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R.I.P ramboestrada.com

September 13, 2010

I’ve decided to discontinue this site. I’ve left the post below about the Mount Reef as there are a lot of articles on the web linking to it. I’ve got a new website ramboestrada.tumblr.com

If you want to get hold of me email ramboestrada@clear.net.nz

The truth about the Mount Reef

June 11, 2009

A while back on my other blog I wrote a post about the many failed artificial reef and wave pool projects around the globe which ASR has been involved with. Well 5 months later I figure one of the 3 readers of my blog must have sent a link to the ASR guys as I have had some lengthy emails and phone calls from them in the past couple of days. Apparently I had some of the facts wrong?

Well I know our local Mount Maunganui community threw over 1.5 million at this project which I’m pretty sure was the asking price for a 100% completed reef that would produce quality surf. The reef was scheduled to be completed 3 years ago. All the money has been spent, and more. I have no idea what percentage of completion the reef is at, and I have no idea if it’s ever going to be finished?

that triangle looking thing at the top is the "reef"

I’ve read plenty of bullshit on the web about how the Mount Reef has been producing great waves, which as I can see the thing from my front yard, I find quite hard to swallow. I thought about writing something about the reef myself, but instead I conducted some brief interviews with some of Mount Maunganui’s most successful and well respected surfers. Have a read and make up your own mind.

None of these photos were taken on the reef, but were taken on near by beaches that pick up the same swell as Tay St.

Matt Hewitt at Matakana Island

Name
Matt Hewitt

Surfing Credentials
NZ National Champ Open Mens 2009

When was the last time you surfed the Mount Reef?
Never surfed because it when it has broken it’s not surfable

Imagine the swell is 3ft and clean, describe what a set wave would look like when it breaks on the reef.
A 3ft perfect wave would peak up and have 3 or 4 lips and then close out.

The reef seemed to have potential when it first went in, but now seems to be worse. Why do you think this is?
Everything. It’s not deep enough and it’s too close to the beach, it’s a myth. They would have been better off spending the money on making some groins along the beach. Or a wave house! Because they took to long to complete it and did it in too many stages so I think the bags must have moved and the bags apparently were not filled up enough.

How has the reef affected the surf in the Tay Street area?
I think it’s made the beach worse and dangerous for swimmers. We don’t get any shore breaks anymore, and the sand is different.

Anything else you’d like to ad about the Mount Reef?
The only guys I have seen out there is the boogie boarders and I have only seen that a couple of times.

Owen Barnes at the Island

Name
Owen Barnes.

Surfing Credentials
U16 National champ 1989, U18 National champ 1990. Matakana tuberiding guru.

When was the last time you surfed the Mount Reef?
Can’t say that I have had a wave off the reef. Have tried to surf ‘the reef’ once but all the swell did was surge on itself and faded out to nothing.

Imagine the swell is 3ft and clean, describe what a set wave would look like when it breaks on the reef.
You would see a set coming and then it would just surge and close out. Normally the waves at that size would break 100mtrs out further then hit the reef for the surge effect.

What do you think is wrong with the reef?
In theory sounded great but the practical side was no good. You are dealing with mother nature.

The reef seemed to have potential when it first went in, but now seems to be worse. Why do you think this is?
It never seemed to be far enough out where the water is deeper to create the barrel to stand up before it would hit the shallows of the reef.

How has the reef affected the surf in the Tay Street area?
The reef has created a huge hole in front of it. Our local board riders, The Bay Board Riders, have had two seasons of comps (10 comps in total) held at the Tay Street reserve and not once did any surfer surf the reef in a heat because there was never any waves on it.

Anything else you’d like to ad about the Mount Reef?
It’s a bummer for the community, these are the people who have nothing to show for all the money and time that they have put into the project.

Alex Dive at the Island

Name
Alex Dive

Surfing Credentials
2008 U16 national champ, 2008 U16 Billabong and Ripcurl series winner, 2009 U17 Volcom VQS champ, 2009 U18 National Scholastics champ

When was the last time you surfed the Mount Reef?
I live 100m from the reef and it has only been rideable twice, when it was first built. The wave only worked on low tide, but if it got too low then the sandbags were exposed. The wave was about 15 metres long and really intense; also it was really hard to take off and get a proper barrel. More suited to bodyboarders.

Imagine the swell is 3ft and clean, describe what a set wave would look like when it breaks on the reef.
At present if it was high tide it would peak up and not even break at all. At mid tide you might get the wave crumbling for 10 metres and at low tide the bags would nearly be sticking out of the water and the wave would have steps in it and not even look surfable. Well you wouldnt want to paddle 200metres out there anyway.

What do you think is wrong with the reef?
The design sounded as if it would be amazing but to be honest it seems as if everything is wrong. It’s far too short to create a rideable wave. It only hints at breaking when conditions are near perfect for the area but is still not rideable; it goes fat straightaway, and closes out.

The reef seemed to have potential when it first went in, but now it seems to be worse. Why do you think this is?
We have heard different theories but I reckon it would not be possible to keep the sandbags in place and they have shifted and changed all the time. They have split several times.

How has the reef affected the surf in the Tay Street area?
Tay St has lost its banks straight out front; the sand seems to have built up and there are no peaks, though there are some to the left and right of Tay St. Would have to say conditions are generally worse now.

Anything else you’d like to ad about the Mount Reef?
Who’s going to pay to take it away??

James Skivington at the Island

Name
James Skivington

Surfing Credentials
Former New Zealand Junior Team member, tube-riding photo guy.

When was the last time you surfed the Mount Reef?
Never have. I haven’t seen a decent wave break that was worth the paddle out. I spent the last 6 months living directly in front of the reef and could see the whole beach and reef from our second story living room. Not once did I see the reef produce “high quality surfing waves at a fixed location” as stated by ASR. However I did see surges of white water, fragmented swell lines and torrential rips.

Imagine the swell is 3ft and clean, describe what a set wave would look like when it breaks on the reef.
If the swell was 3ft you would be lucky to see a breaking wave. What you might see would be looming swell followed by a possible surge and if the tide was right you might see some white water….

What do you think is wrong with the reef?
Not sure. Wrong Design? Too deep? Bags incorrectly placed? Bags not filled? Bags shifted? Hole in bags? Its only 1/2 complete? No its only 3/4 complete? We ran out of money?? I guess only ASR can answer that. There seems to be a very grey area over the reefs current status, very little information is being made available to the public and as far as accountability goes nobody really knows who’s in charge.

The reef seemed to have potential when it first went in, but now it seems to be worse. Why do you think this is?
Yes the reef did seem to have more potential to work when the first stages went in, as for it’s decline, I am unsure of why? Again, I guess only ASR can answer that.

How has the reef affected the surf in the Tay Street area?
Rips. Normally rips are a blessing for surfers as they create good banks but because these rips are so close together it creates one big washing machine with short peaky waves and extreme currents. I have seen several swimmer’s swept out in these rips and have had to save a kid on his boogie board. There also seems to be an extraordinary amount of seaweed build up directly in front of the reef. There were several days this summer that were unsurfable out Tay St because of the amount of seaweed in the water.

Anything else you’d like to ad about the Mount Reef?
A similar scenario happened on The Simpson’s once, ‘The Monorail Episode’. The story goes:
An out of town salesman named Lyle Lanley suggest’s the town construct a Monorail, he then leads them in a song, which convinces the town to buy the Monorail. Lanley succeeds in winning over the entire town and they decide to go head with the Monorail, even appointing Homer as Monorail Conductor. Anyway the Monorail is a total flop an eventually crashes and leaves the town in ruins. Lanley (Salesman) grabs his money and jumps in a taxi to the airport, never to be seen again. Its a hilarious episode but at the same time the similarities are frightfully obvious. Watch the Simpsons monorail pitch by clicking here.

Matt Hall at the Island

Name
Matt Hall

Surfing Credentials
Director of Mount Maunganui based westuit company Bodyline, Island charger.

When was the last time you surfed the Mount Reef?
Never surfed it and never seen it good enough to surf. Paddled out to it on a small day a couple of years ago to check out the configuration of the reef but wasn’t breaking. Stood up on it, very shallow. The boogers seem to get off on it.

Imagine the swell is 3ft and clean, describe what a set wave would look like when it breaks on the reef.
I was told at a meeting before it was built that it was supposed to be a steep take off with a fast breaking/barreling indicators (Raglan) style wall breaking left and right peak – But I have never seen anything like that. I have seen photos of it, but??

What do you think is wrong with the reef?
I don’t think it is out far enough and I don’t think its covering a big enough area. When the swell is small it tends to break on the inside beach breaks and when the swell is bigger it breaks out past the reef. From what I’ve heard it still isn’t really finished. Sand bags only half full and buried. Get it finished!

The reef seemed to have potential when it first went in, but now seems to be worse. Why do you think this is?
It had the potential because it was talked up by the ASR crew. Every surfer at one time or another has thought about putting a reef in at their local beachie to make the swell break better. This was supposed to be their dream come true! They had some bad luck with weather at the start etc. I still don’t think it’s totally finished and that’s why it doesn’t break. I know they had certain constraints placed on them to how far out the reef could be laid….

How has the reef affected the surf in the Tay Street area?
Inside the reef the banks have slightly improved either side, but that is not what the reef was designed for.

Anything else you’d like to ad about the Mount Reef?
Get it finished and prove to the local surf community, ASR, that you do what you say you’re going to do and provide our surfing community with our reef break. There have been countless days over the last few years when the swell, wind and tide conditions have been perfect for the reef to break and so far it’s only produced poor quality surf. Why bother trying to surf the reef when just across the entrance you have a world class beachie!?

Mark Dovey

Name
Mark Dovey

Surfing Credentials
Opens Mens National title 2001, NZ team member Brazil 2000, NZ team member South Africa 2002

When was the last time you surfed the Mount Reef?
Never surfed the reef because there is always better waves breaking on either side of it. Also have never really seen a good wave break on it that’s made me want to paddle out that far.

Imagine the swell is 3ft and clean, describe what a set wave would look like when it breaks on the reef.
A set wave on the reef looks like it is going to be a good wave when a large swell approaches. It then hits the reef, doubles up to the point where only a boogie boarder could make the late drop without hitting the bottom. It then runs off quickly for a few meters, then all of a sudden goes fat and stops breaking. The wave is pretty much all over as quick as it begun!

What do you think is wrong with the reef?
I don’t know what is wrong with the reef but it has never looked like working from the time it was put in.

The reef seemed to have potential when it first went in, but now seems to be worse. Why do you think this is?
Last I heard the bags were covered by too much sand making it impossible to finish filling them. Too many hold ups from the start, problems with council consent etc. I think they needed to get it finished quickly from the start to avoid the problems they encounted.

How has the reef affected the surf in the Tay Street area?
It seems to have created a lot of sand build up closer to the shore in the area. This has provided good banks for surfing and a some good erosion protection for the beach. And a lot of sea life so I have heard.

Anything else you’d like to ad about the Mount Reef?
I never thought it would ever work well as the reef on the Gold Coast has never worked, which was designed by the same people. But apparently the bags were ripped by boat anchors etc over there? From a surfers point of view I think it is a total waste of time, effort and most of all money!

Matt Bennett at the Island

Name
Matt Bennett

Surfing Credentials
Former NZ Team and Maori Team member; Arataki Surfer

When was the last time you surfed the Mount Reef?
Paddled out for a look about 3 or 4 years ago but looked way too shallow (or I was too soft) to test my brand new board.

Imagine the swell is 3ft and clean, describe what a set wave would look like when it breaks on the reef.
I probably don’t check it enough but when I have most of the time it looks similar to the rest of the coast.

What do you think is wrong with the reef?
I don’t have enough reef making experience to have any solid thoughts.

The reef seemed to have potential when it first went in, but now it seems to be worse. Why do you think this is?
It did show good potential at the start but I think mother nature/Tangaroa was too much for some newishly man made stuff.

How has the reef affected the surf in the Tay Street area?
I don’t think it’s better otherwise you’d see heaps of people surfing out there but not worse either.

Anything else you’d like to ad about the Mount Reef?
I hope the designers etc have learned heaps from this one and maybe one day while I’m still alive I will witness some mean artificial reef waves.

Andy Jordan

Name
Andy jordan

Surfing Credentials
2001 NZ masters champ, Mount Maunganui’s #1 surfboard shaper from Jordan Surfboards.

When was the last time you surfed the Mount Reef?
One year ago,only caught four ridable waves. I`ve only surfed it three times and four waves riden is my best surf out there.

Imagine the swell is 3ft and clean, describe what a set wave would look like when it breaks on the reef.
Well every time I look at it, it is either breaking and there going fat or just sucking dry on the reef.

What do you think is wrong with the reef?
Two things I think, first there is no under water valley out in front of the reef to focus the swell into the reef, or it just doesn’t go far enough out so all the waves just break all over the place and not focus in to reef.

The reef seemed to have potential when it first went in, but now it seems to be worse. Why do you think this is?
Not sure maybe same as last question but also could have somethink to do with the sand that they are taking out of the harbor and the harbor board are dumping out between the reef and rabbit island which has clogged up that area in to much sand?

Anything else you’d like to ad about the Mount Reef?
I think they are a good idea but just need to be put in the right places like the tip of the blowhole to make a good right hander or the left of rabbit island were both places have some sort of wave but we are just doing the last 20% that nature didn`t do.

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