But it’s not just wetsuit-wearing gnarly dudes who will benefit from the construction of this £1.4 million venture. By putting Bournemouth, or more specifically, Boscombe beach, on the surfing map, it’s hoped a lot of businesses will flood into the area. Stacks of new shops, hotels, surf schools and restaurants should pop up along the sea front and redeveloped pier, creating fun for everyone on the south coast, whether you’re splashing in the surf or flashing cash in a boutique hotel or funky cafe.
Marine life will also score as the man-made structure will provide more habitats for various species to thrive in the ocean — as seen in the artificial reefs of Australia and New Zealand.
The materials used to build the reef are ecologically sound, unlike the environmentally disastrous tyres used in the reef off the coast of Florida. Bournemouth’s reef has been constructed using about 55 huge sausage-shaped geo-textile bags sourced from Australia, which have been pumped with up to 2500 tonnes of sand. These were placed on top of a giant ‘spider’s web’ base shipped from New Zealand. Beneath this sits an enormous mat preventing the whole get-up from disappearing into the sea floor.
Historically, Bournemouth attracted families on holiday and the blue-rinse brigade (it wasn’t called God’s waiting room for nothing). However, over the last decade, with the increase in the number of bars and clubs in the town, partygoers from all over the country, and even further afield, have descended on the coast.
Now, the reef will build on Britain’s third largest surfing community and attract tourists of a different, more adrenaline-loving ilk, who previously would have headed to Cornwall or Devon to get their rush.
There are only currently 77 good surfing days a year in Bournemouth, though the local surfers are so keen to get in the water they don their boardies for 153 days of the year — that’s a lot of bobbing up and down waiting for a good break. With the finished reef, the number of good surfing days is set to double, as is the height of the waves.
The reef is built so the swell will come in all different shapes and sizes — from small and hollow, to steep or Malibu-style. It mimics the effects of its natural counterpart, creating a sea-bed profile that ‘bigs up’ the wave energy. The reef doesn’t create the surf — it isn’t a wave machine in a popular resort swimming pool — it simply enhances it. If the sea is calm and flat the reef will have no effect at all, but if there’s a 1m swell, a 2m wave is produced, resulting in a longer, more exciting ride.
Before the reef was built, the surf conditions at Boscombe meant short rides, which left surfers yawning and unsatisfied, and saw them heading home to watch Point Break instead.
So, if you don’t want your autumn to be a total wipeout, head to Boscombe for some seriously awesome water sports, and all the extras that come with it.
Will Kay, resident of the aptly named Boscombe apartment block The Reef, can’t wait. “This reef has been a long time coming and I can’t wait for the waves and babes to arrive on my doorstep.”
Other nearby attractions
Not feeling the wave energy? No probs, there’s plenty more to do in and around Bournemouth besides surfing.
Just because you’re not in the water, doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate the ocean. This aquarium houses turtles, stingrays, sharks and Nemos. Sorry, we mean clownfish. See www.oceanarium.co.uk.
A trip to this rescue centre is a great day out. Watch the residents — many of them endangered — monkeying around in the 65-acre grounds. See www.monkeyworld.org.
Zoom down this dry slope on skis, a snowboard, or even a ringo! See www.snowtrax.eu.
Jump inside an enormous plastic ball and roll down a hill for the most unique and exhilarating day. See www.zorbsouth.co.uk.
Bournemouth International Centre (BIC)
In November, gigs and comedy acts are out in force. There are loads to choose from, like The Mighty Boosh, Steve Coogan, Katie Melua, Mcfly and, er, The Lady Boys Of Bangkok. See www.bic.co.uk.