State of Reef: What if the next world-class wave will be your backyard beachbreak?

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What if the next world-class wave will be your backyard beachbreak?

Or what if you soon become accustomed to perfection down the street from your inland dwelling, peeling in a palace of pooled pleasure?

Imagine for a moment...

Huntington Point. Arizona A-Frames. PB Pipeline. Cocoa-bank. Texas Tabletops. Rhode Island Rincon. Oceano Open Doors...

If you've been reading up on your surfing news lately, you already know it's the real deal: artificial surfing reefs. This concept has moved far beyond the experimental stage and is currently changing (or planned to change) the wave faces of the world.

Global efforts are now underway, with the last few years seeing a tremendous growth in activity, worldwide interest, and enthusiasm to start new projects.

Phase or fad, this clearly is not; we have a bona fide emerging phenomenon.

Strong forces are at play – driving ideas, technologies, and unprecedented momentum towards a very exciting future for today's board riders. At every level, be it coastal reef or inland surf park, people are banding together to reshape the water traveling beneath your feet.

One such individual is the founder of Amalgamates Solutions Research (ASR), Dr. Kerry Black of Raglan, New Zealand.

After hosting the 5th International Surfing Reef Conference in Lombok, Indonesia, Dr. Black embarked on a typical two-month odyssey during the fall of 2006, traveling to 10 countries to consult on, or completely oversee, the development of new artificial reef projects.

"As of today, we have 25 reef projects worldwide at various stages of completion,” Black says. Among the countries are New Zealand, the United States, the UK, Australia, India, South Africa, Indonesia, and Mexico.

Initially, most of ASR’s projects evolved from beach communities looking to control beach or coastal erosion. "However," as Black explains, "Pure surfing reefs, as a percentage, are a faster growing concept."

Today, almost half of ASR's projects (40%) have been driven from surfing primarily. Bournemouth, England, and the reefs at Opunake and Mt. Maunganui in New Zealand are examples of such initiatives where the local leaders are banking on the idea that these new waves will have an economic impact from new tourism.

The remaining 60% of ASR's projects are derived from issues related to coastal protection and beach nourishment projects, with good surf as an intended byproduct of careful design. While the use of man-made coastal structures (harbors, jetties, sea-walls, etc.) for erosion control date back to 3500 B.C., littoral structures designed to serve more than one specific purpose, especially those involving recreation as a component, are a modern-day phenomenon. ASR dubs these "multi-purpose reefs" as the frontier in coastal engineering.