This has nothing to do with the ARC, except that it’s revolutionary as well … enjoy this newsline:
Boscombe’s long-awaited surf reef is now ready for use and conditions this last week have been perfect for surfing the reef. The RNLI undertook their training at the weekend (Sunday 1st November), and following this, it was just a case of waiting for the right weather to declare the reef officially open.
Jon Weaver, Marketing and Events Manager for Bournemouth Tourism said, “For once, the weather appears to be on our side. Almost no sooner than the RNLI have completed their training, the final stage we had to go through before we could launch, the swell is perfect – decent waves, around eight seconds apart with a gentle breeze. We couldn’t miss this opportunity so took the decision this morning at 10.30 to launch the reef.” He continued, “This means the reef is now officially open, and ready for experienced surfers to use at their leisure.” He added, “It is important to remember that the reef is not a wave machine – it works to enhance the conditions that occur naturally and so, when there is no swell elsewhere, there won’t be swell on the reef either.”
Barry Heathfield, RNLI Divisional Manager for Dorset said, “In addition to the usual high quality and standardised training in rescue and first aid all RNLI lifeguards undergo, Justin, Andy and Mike, the three RNLI lifeguards who will be patrolling the reef 365 days a year, have undergone further training on other surf beaches in the south west, in order to develop a thorough knowledge of rescue and recovery in surf conditions. However, the site specific training on the reef yesterday was essential in order for the lifeguards to understand the different currents moving around the man-made construction when the surf is breaking, as well as the depth of water on the reef at different stages of the tide which will affect their rescue technique. Conditions yesterday were great and we are happy that the RNLI lifeguards covered the variety of procedures and rescue scenarios needed to complete this phase of the training.”
The reef’s performance will be monitored by Plymouth University for the next year, to assess that it is delivering the surfing conditions expected – the quality of the waves (they should ‘peal’ rather than break in one go), and the number of surfable days.
So maybe for one of the last time (fat chance!) this winter before the first dump of snow, the water becomes too cold or more likely we get too fat from Christmas, Source will be pulling on their wetsuit and heading for the coast for some surf!
Before all of that though here is some information on the reef itself and how the team at Plymouth University will conduct their research:
“The waves at Boscombe are generally small and break close to the beach; therefore surf rides are generally short. The reef is 220m offshore and so on days with good swell, decent-sized waves will peel down the right of the reef, creating a longer-ride of around 50m. An occasional swell from the east may also generate a short left-hand breaker with a ride length of around 15m.
Because the breaking section of the wave will run down the reef (peeling) instead of a wave breaking in one go (closing out), the waves on the reef are better for surfing. Therefore, the surf reef will see waves peeling from left to right down the reef (a right-hand break) and breaking with more power than on the beach.
The prevailing swell means the wave can begin peeling at the start of the reef and continue peeling until the end of the reef. The angles that waves break across the reef are in the range 53º to 66º on the right hand wave and approximately 70º for the left hander. The lower the angle, the more challenging the break is to surf.
The reef is designed to work on days with good ground-swell, coming from the South West, as opposed to wind swell, which creates messier, choppier waves. The reef acts as a ramp, pushing existing waves upwards and shaping them into better quality surfing waves. The reef is not like a wave machine as it doesn’t create waves. Similar to a natural surf break, it will only make a difference on days when there is already good sized swell occurring naturally in the right direction. If the sea is calm and flat, it will remain so. The reef is more likely to produce results in the surf season; late-September through to April.
It’s free to surf the reef. Changing facilities and warm showers are located in the Overstrand building. The Council will regularly inspect and maintain the reef and provide year-round lifeguard cover in partnership with the RNLI. The reef area is marked out by buoys to help control motorised watercraft.
It is suitable for competent, confident surfers who are beginning to initiate and execute standard surfing manoeuvres on at least one occasion, as well as surfers who can do standard manoeuvres consecutively on a single wave. The surf reef is not for beginners. The reef is 220 metres out to sea, and so surfers need to be physically fit and competent to paddle out to it.
Plymouth University have reviewed the design of the reef and found it to be well-designed and well-positioned. For 12 months from completion, Plymouth University will monitor:
• The shape of breaking waves – are they now peeling instead of closing out, and within the stated angles? Are waves breaking with more power than on the beach?
• The number of surfable days, compared to previous years and the number of surfers at both the Pier and the reef areas, compared to previous years. They’ll do this through site visits and by monitoring data collected from on-site cameras.
Boscombe’s reef design takes into account a number of key factors to obtain the optimum solution for this specific location:
• Wave Climate – The waves at Boscombe are generally small and so the reef has been designed to increase the breaking wave height as much as possible and maximise the number of surfing days.
• Wind Climate – a high number of surfable days have south westerly winds which cause choppy sea conditions. Design criteria for the reef was that it should take this into account.
• Crest Height – The level of the reef crest determines the frequency that waves break on the reef. Due to tidal factors, it is necessary for the crest height of the Boscombe reef to be relatively high so that better quality breaks waves are achieved more often.
The reef is designed for surfing, using only sustainable power of nature to make it work. Research suggests the reef will also protect the coast from erosion. Already divers have seen a variety of marine life making the reef their new home, including cuttlefish, spider crabs and a variety of fish”.
To monitor the progress and view regular updates of the reef, visit www.thesurfreef.co.uk.