Artificial reef eyed to help boardriders with training

Reuben CarderGeraldton Guardian
National junior titles competitor Sophie Butcher makes the best of sloppy conditions at Back Beach earlier this year.
Camera IconNational junior titles competitor Sophie Butcher makes the best of sloppy conditions at Back Beach earlier this year. Credit: Geraldton Board Riders

An artificial reef at Geraldton’s Back Beach would help the Mid West become more competitive in surf contests, top local surfers say.

“It would be a great opportunity to get one (a reef), because we don’t really get many good breaks around and having a break like that will improve our surfing,” national junior titles competitor Sophie Butcher said.

“It’ll be good for the community and bring everyone together and we can do comps better, it’ll be a good spot and you can always rely on it.”

Surfer Shekya Hagan said having an artificial surf reef would benefit training.

“It would get us ready for competitions, because sometimes there’s nowhere to surf and it’s too hard to train, we don’t have the right wave,” Hagan said.

“It’ll allow us to surf more and improve.”

Butcher and Hagan were speaking from the State training camp in Margaret River ahead of the national junior surf titles this week.

They said they had been out at Indijup, South Point and Huzzas in six to seven-foot sets.

Geraldton Boardriders president Nic Chadbourne said Back Beach had fairly consistent swell but did not always offer quality.

“Back Beach has waves most of the year round, although the quality varies immensely due to the sand movement, with a majority of the year only producing fairly average surfable waves,” he said.

“A reef structure has the potential to greatly increase good surf days.”

This would benefit kite surfers and other users as well as surfers, he said.

Most of the swell reaching Geraldton is from the South West, with long average swell periods indicating high wave energy.

A pass in the outlying reefs just offshore from Back Beach, located in Mahomets Flats, favours waves from a south-south-westerly direction, according to a study commissioned locally.

The consistent swell direction and small tide movements also offered an advantage in artificial reef design, it said.

Changes in water depth and swell angle can alter the way a wave breaks over a reef.

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the State Government, through the Mid West Development Commission, had this year completed a high-level pre-feasibility study into the concept of an artificial surf reef at Mahomet’s Beach.

“The study found there is potential for a reef, however a more substantial technical study into design, local conditions and environmental and coastal impacts is required before a project could progress,” MacTiernan said.

“We are examining funding options for the more detailed study and development of a business case.”

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