Page last updated at 15:56 GMT, Monday, 2 November 2009

Surf reef opens after year delay


Bad weather delayed the construction of the artificial surf reef

Europe's first artificial surf reef has been officially unveiled in Dorset, more than a year late.

The £3m project was expected to open in October 2008 but construction was delayed until April due to bad weather.

Bournemouth council finished its safety checks with RNLI lifeguards before the official opening at 1030 GMT.

The reef, which has more than doubled in cost, was built by New Zealand-based ASR to enhance waves and is part of an £11m regeneration of the seafront.

It was created to improve surfing conditions using 55 sand-filled "geotextile bags" which are 225m (740ft) out to sea.

It will all be paid for, it will be self-financing and it's a hugely successful project
Councillor Beverley Dunlop

ASR said it was enlisted to help Bournemouth improve its surfing conditions in order to increase tourism.

It said the reef would provide a much more "substantial benefit" to the beachside community in terms of coastal protection.

Bournemouth Borough Council said on its website that conditions were "perfect" for surfing the reef on Monday.

Sean Wade, 39, of Poole, said: "Since it's been finished there has been no swell at all.

"Our season of surf normally starts September time but with the high pressure we've had nothing.

"Yesterday (Sunday) it was licking - it was really good.

"It's like nothing around the beach here because it's hollow. You don't get a really hollow wave on this coast.

"At the moment the wave is better for bodyboarding because it's so hollow.

Brad Petrus, 24, of Boscombe, who has also surfed the reef, said the reef was "aimed towards advanced surfers".

Surfers give their verdict on the surf reef

He said: "It's a shallow reef and if you come off you're going to hit it. When the tides swing it can change the conditions.

"When it was finished we haven't had the conditions we expected. The last few days have been the first swell we've had."

Councillor Beverley Dunlop told BBC News that the surf reef was part of a "huge regeneration project" bringing prosperity to the area.

"It amplifies the natural wave, if there's no surf the reef can't do something out of nothing, but when there is surf it amplifies and improves that," she added.

"It is value for money because of what it is doing for the area. It will all be paid for, it will be self-financing and it's a hugely successful project.

Tourism chiefs have enlisted the help of a specialist team at Plymouth University to monitor the reef's performance over the next 12 months to assess that it is delivering the surfing conditions expected.

Graphic showing how the reef works

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