Page last updated at 13:48 GMT, Monday, 22 March 2010

Annual spot for Boscombe artificial surf reef contest

Surfer at contest in Boscombe
Event organisers said they received positive feedback

The first surfing contest to be held on Boscombe's £3m artificial surf reef has been hailed a success and will now be held annually, organisers revealed.

An estimated 5,000 people turned out to the Sorted Surf Festival, held on the redeveloped seafront, over the weekend.

It gave tourism chiefs the chance to show off the underwater reef, which enhances waves but has come in for criticism from some surfers.

Organiser Shaun Taylor said the two-day event "couldn't have gone better".

The artificial reef, which opened in November, more than a year late and at double its original cost, is the first of its kind in Europe.

Tourism 'enhanced'

Mr Taylor said that although surfing competitions had been held in Bournemouth and Boscombe in the past, it was the first time the reef had been used and it had attracted positive feedback.

"The thing that a lot of people don't seem to understand, if the sea is flat the reef will be flat, it enhances the waves," he said.

Mr Taylor added that conditions on Saturday made the reef better for bodyboarders, while stand-up surfers used the west side of the pier and the east side for junior competitors.

Mark Smith, director of tourism at Bournemouth Borough Council, said the festival was a "great example" of how the regeneration project had successfully extended the season.

"Boscombe can now have a vibrant, busy events calendar throughout the year which provides the area with its own strong identity," he added.

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