There were cheers all round as the first section of Europe’s first artificial surf reef slowly rolled off a barge to be laid on Boscombe seabed in Bournemouth. The first section makes up one sixth of the volume of the reef and is constructed from a geo-mat, webbing base and 16 huge geo-bags with an area of 50m x 50m.
David Neilson, the Construction Manager for the Surf Reef, said: “This is D-Day. We’ve been for several weeks for the winds to drop and today has provided us with the perfect conditions to accurately place the reef section on Boscombe sea-bed. After years of planning, it’s very exciting to get to this stage. If we have consistently good weather, we should get the reef completed by the end of October.”
The eastern-end of the reef was attached to five-tonne anchors on the seabed by a team of expert divers. The barge was then slowly winched along the reef site, allowing the section to gradually unfold and peel off into the water. Winches then pulled down the reef onto the seabed and SCUBA-divers secured it in place.
The reef is now ready for filling. Each of the 16 bags on reef section 1 will be filled one at a time. This takes between 1-4 hours each, depending on the size. Once this has been completed, section 2 (already built on land) will then be deployed and filled and so on, until the reef is completed when fifth section is deployed and filled.
Councillor Beverley Dunlop said: “It has taken 10 years to get to this point. This regeneration project is unique and innovative and is turning Boscombe into a fantastic place to both live and visit. The surf reef will turn Bournemouth into a water sports Mecca, as it will be a free facility to be enjoyed by surfers, snorkellers, windsurfers and divers. To accompany the reef there will be a new seafront restaurant, café, surfing facilities and retro beach huts. Boscombe is the place to be.”
Stay tuned for updates!