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Independant review of UK reef: “not producing right waves”

May 19 2010 | Artificial reefs, Jim's Blog,
by Jim

The subject of artificial surfing reefs seems to be getting more interesting, and increasingly polarizing, every day.

Artificial reefs enjoy a distinct group of followers, people that believe the reefs will produce quality, consistent waves that will somehow address the crowds we feel at our local breaks. They also think these man-made reefs offer a solid return on investment and don't harm the ecosystems--in fact, they believe they help the ecosystems.

There is another group, seemingly
made up of local people, that emerges from the surrounding areas where artificial surfing reefs have been deployed. This group could be described as "unbelievers" and in some cases they are quite angry. The anger stems from being sold a bill of goods that wasn't delivered as promised. Some of the people in this group are calling for the reefs to be taken out.

The tension between these two forces is where the future of artificial surfing reefs lives. Thus, it's always interesting when new data, from independent sources, is shared.

Many of us have been waiting for the independent review on the Boscombe reef in England and it just came out (I'd love to see and share the full report, if anyone has it please send it to me).

The BBC has summarized the report and essentially labeled Boscombe a failure. But of course don't take my word for it, watch the video.

My personal opinion is that technologies fail all the time, but not all technology failures are equal. It's one thing for a new tech to fail, but the sting (and what's fueling that second group of people) comes from the over-sized promise that the reef would deliver "Hawaii-quality" waves. They received something very, very different than that.
People aren't just mad, they're bitter. Over 200 comments were left on this post about this reef. That's about 200 times the normal number of comments I receive. That's not feedback... it's something else.

I'm not anti-artificial surfing reef. In fact, based on my background of being a geek at times, I am quite intrigued with this technology. That's why I researched every angle into every reef on the globe and wrote a series that asks the simple, open-ended question "do artificial surfing reefs work?" I then invited the world of surfers to weigh in and agree or disagree with each of my posts. If you're a serious believer in this technology I encourage you to read this series and people's comments.

If any of us are going to get any value from this, it has to be an open dialog. We are all learning about this technology--please add to the conversation. Agree or disagree, but please cite real data to back it up, not just personal hunches.

In the meantime, let's double our efforts to protect the waves we already have.

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