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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

38 Comments leave one →
  1. Nat Leigh permalink
    June 15, 2009 4:07 am

    gold article hambo… def not the most successful project ever, i just don’t get how they’re still getting away with building more when they haven’t had a successful one to date? skips comparison to simpsons monorail episode… amazing… summed it up right there.

  2. June 16, 2009 6:07 am

    some sweet journalism here…
    i remember when i was 13 (2003) sitting in the ASR office in Rags with my Dad being shown these reef models, science, etc… the guy (i had met while surfing) sounded like his heart was in the right place and he was so optimistic about the Mount reef… but my Dad was claiming nothing would work from his knowledge of reef work, diving, restoration,oceanography, etc.

    sorry to hear its still dragging on and suckling money.
    could one shooting waterhousing out there in the barrel(s)?
    or is it completely worthless…..

  3. trying very hard - very trying permalink
    July 17, 2009 6:43 am

    There are many negatives to the Mount reef- one positive point does seem to be present and that is the designers did make the effort to keep going back and doing some more to try and fulfill the dream that they instilled into everybody for the support needed to raise the money to attempt what they did.

    The overall results and the surfer satisfaction level though does not seem to show reward for all and the difficult time they have had trying to create reality from a dream.

    There are many things that took a number of generations to complete.
    the ships chronograph , the thames tunnel, the cross atlantic telegraph, the brooklyn bridge, the polio vaccine and I am very sure many more.

    These all paid for themselves over and over again with benfits that compounded with time and give great credit to the scientists, technitians and engineers that in some instances sacrificed all to achieve results.

    The cost/benefit of artificial surfing reefs takes time to fully appreciate -but where there is so much nature that already works well for little cost this competion is going to be hard to beat with the way the costs are mounting up by the artificial attempts.

    free market forces based on reliable honest evaluation of past and existing efforts will as with everything -rule the day

  4. Chris Scown permalink
    August 21, 2009 6:09 am

    All very true Hambo.
    I tried to surf the thing once or twice and can testify it was crap. People can justify it all they like when they say you have to try these things to eventually get it right, which is true, but as a business you don’t make your clients pay for your experiments, you get your product right first and then sell it.
    I think ASR has a fulltime PR team trolling the net for any negative comment about them and then they quickly try to shoot down the opinion of anyone who disagrees with them. They are quick to say they have had lots of positive feedback, all I can say is that anyone who claims to get good waves out there would have to be a full blown kook.
    The really sad thing is that they tarnish New Zealands reputation with their history of failure and angry customers. I’m sure the ASR PR team will be on to us soon!

    • ramboestrada permalink*
      August 21, 2009 6:31 am

      Thanks for your comment bro! Ha ha, yeah ASR stalked me hard when I wrote my original post about what they’ve been up to. I thought it would be good for them to read this new one and get a feel for what all the top surfers in the Mount think of the thing. Haven’t heard a lot from them since…..

  5. speaks4itself permalink
    August 22, 2009 5:08 am

    Friday, August 21, 2009
    Boscombe Reef and The Beast of Kimmeridge Bay

    Yesterday, 20th August Gregg and I sailed the just finished Boscombe surf reef, to check out it’s potential for windsurfing. We had full on 4.7 / 5m wind and some wind blown swell that the reef bowled into a chest high peak.

    But it wasn’t really much good for windsurfing – not even for jumping: the water in front of it and just to windward of the reef is incredibly choppy – almost like wind against tide – as the windchop gets refracted against the windward edge of the reef.

    The wave rises from nowhere in a second and creates a small powerful barrel that is only about 3m across, a shoulder then sploshes downwind along the side of the reef. None of it is really fun to ride.

    At low tide the middle of the reef dried out and the carnage began. The tally was one nose job (back loop), a ripped sail panel (getting a rinsing) and some slightly shorter twinser fins (oops, where’d the water go).

    After some maximum effort trying to make the best of the reef we then headed downwind two hundred metres where the conditions were surprisingly good, and so much better than the reef – and just to keep this blog on topic I did a nice forward on Gregg’s RRD twinser.

    We then had a proper wave sail at Southborne with a few other locals, including Mr Big-Salty-stalled-forwards James Cox.

    Gregg’s observation that the reef was just too small to be useful was completely evident the next day when we sailed Kimmeridge ledges. Here the ledges shape and form the wave for hundreds of metres before it actually breaks. The wave walls up way out to sea – and today it was perfect, chest to head high sets rolling through clean and well spaced with acres of chop free flat water in between. We hurriedly rigged the 5.2/5.4s and headed out… the wind dropped… so we came in rigged the 6s… and then the waves dropped…

    Never mind, we were at Kimmeridge, one of the most beautiful spots in Southern UK and it was a sunny, warm August day, perfect for a picnic and we had proper imported spanish Serrano in our sandwiches and a flask of fresh coffee… and then we saw it…The Beast of Kimmeridge Bay, his eyes were fixed on me. His jaws opened, and he licked his lips. A catastrophe… the Beast had eaten ALL of our Serrano sandwiches. Bad Grubby, very very bad Grubby.

  6. September 23, 2009 5:21 am

    awesome “expose´” mister hambs.
    one million five hundred thousand dollars later…
    damn! for that i bet you could pay some grommies to fill sand bags everyday, row them out in a dinghy and drop them deep in place till the reef was finished.

  7. Carlos Becker permalink
    October 9, 2009 7:47 am

    Loving your work bro! I remember heading down to the Mount surf club with all the christian surfers crew when I was 14 which is over 11 years ago and its was always supposed to be not only an amazing wave with a whole lot of environmental prospects but also this great boost for the local economy (I know Tay St shop has been spruced up, but for some reason I don’t think the funds came from the millions of post surf pies).
    I don’t get home as often as I’d like these days but I’m always keen on knowing if the reef has been breaking, but get the same responses every time. It sucks, its just a big rip, Ashman got one barrel about two years ago, only boogers surf it etc.
    I agree totally with gromo, put the bags next to rabbit island for an epic left, but that’s another story. I would be interested to see an actual breakdown of expendature that went into the reef just to see where the $1.5 million went. for a semi small community it is a lot of money and I know many people including myself have contributed to the reef.
    Anyway, good job Hambos, stick it to em!

  8. bros in arms -PJ2 permalink
    October 22, 2009 10:26 am

    news from our uk bo-s

    hey Papa joe, you seem very well qualified to comment on the reef. I’m confused that what you say seems at odds with what the local proponents for it have said. Also the claims made for its designed performance goals and the reasons that the price (with extras) went from a little to a great deal. How can such divergence in cost/benfit occur in both illusion and reality by people of various well qualified duties, skills and responsibilities? What do you think about the size of the wave is meant to be amplified along the entire length of the reef , as asked of Phew above? Also is there any truth in the gossip that the way it was built was opposite to its design and contract? The BBC graphics and video seem to suggest something is different?
    I’ve been involved with the reef project in one way or another for the last 10 years.
    Now part of the problem is that Dr Kerry Black got slightly carried away with the promises to what we can expect from the reef.
    At this point you must bare in mind that ASR still have not built a reef that is successful and that is delivered on time, in budget and to a set performance.
    Performance wise, the reef’s bags are laid too far apart which causes the waves rather that break on the reef itself as a whole forces the waves to surge down the bags. The location of the reef is effected by the poole bay tidal flow – due to the head of the pier being changed (which used to stem the tidal current) and the recent beach replenishment programme -That explains why the beach/shoreline becomes very deep very quickly and is a safety risk.
    The wave is very short with a very steep shallow take off point. ( I can think of only a few people in the local area, who would be able to surf it on a big day) This is due to a lump in the sand bags.
    My conversations with ASR has led to a point that the reef is positioned too shallow for use on a low tide and to deep for any inpack on a high tide, so you are left with a very small window of usage at mid tide. Not ideal for an area with double high tides caused by water bouncing off the Isle of Wight.
    After a surfer catches the wave (that is if they haven’t been pinned to the sandbag or been runover by the other 15-20 surfers all sitting in an area the size of a minibus) then they will have a wave to surf. It is short with an end section that will break before they get to the end.
    It may become great once or twice a year, but lacks any real promise on the typical waves we have arround here. The sad thing is that the council destroyed 3 surf areas/waves that where far better than the reef init’s creation. (And they where free)

    Now I don’t know if I can post a link here but this photo does give you a clue to what is going on.

    Their are a small group of professional, highly skilled surfers come engineers who can sort the issues out for the council. Sadley it will fall on deaf ears.

    The way I see it, for me it’s not about the surfers – It’s about our towns reputation, getting our moneys worth for a product and looking after the best asset we have, the beach for our children.

    The best thing that can come out of this is the fishing!


  9. great global reef swindle permalink
    October 22, 2009 11:59 am

    designers try to figure out why it’s not working.

    mount reef all over again

    The Boscombe Reef, built as a cost of £2.6MILLION, was expected to attract thousands of surfers.

    But its official launch has been delayed while designers try to figure out why it’s not working.

    Disappointed surfer Anthony Bulger, 26, said: “Today should have been a perfect day to catch some good waves, but we haven’t seen a single one.”

    Read more:

  10. Tommo permalink
    December 2, 2009 2:29 am

    You know guys, this really cracks me up. I grew up on Tay Street and I remember when this entire bullshit idea was put to the surfing community years ago and EVERYONE was fizzing about it. I also know that the board at Sun Pacific Villas had done a lot of research on ASR and this Dr? Black. The research showed that there were a couple of reefs that ASR and Dr Black had been involved with and that they ALL had sucked more money than initially quoted out of the community and none to date were working. The board then put these facts to the surfing community and basically were lynched by the surfing community for being negative and not wanting the Mt/ Tay Street progress. It is funny that after nearly 10 years the truth is finally coming out. I wonder if the board of Sun Pacific Villas will get an apology? Probably not, imagine how much money could of been saved if we had only listened? I guess we live and learn aye?

    Hambo, too much for putting your balls on the line with this brother, kia kaha! 1.5 Million, faaaaaaaark, a lot of money boys, we could of done a few MEAN Bay Surfers trips with that coin!

  11. californiasurfer permalink
    April 21, 2010 10:29 pm

    This is an interesting blog post but I find it sad that NZ surfers are so quick to tear down and exciting and interesting concept. It seems pretty obvious that the author has some sort of vendetta against the company building these reefs.

    I just started following the company and its projects, and I think the promise they hold is really exciting. Coming from California, I couldn’t be happier to see my tax dollars spent on sustainable coastal engineering projects rather than another harbor or breakwater ruining yet another wave.

    It makes sense that you guys are upset considering none of you believe the reef has any potential. But you should know that outside of your community, surfers are excited and inspired by these projects. I really think you are missing the bigger picture. These projects promote a responsible approach to coastal development. If you really care about waves, why are you not protesting Chevron ruining Harry’s in Baja or the recent proposed harbor expansion. Instead you guys are set on tearing down a company trying to do something different and exciting.

    On another note, I surf a number of reefs that are not rideable everyday and even some surfers think don’t produce good waves. But they could not be more wrong. There are a number of reefs that produce great waves if you’re willing to put in the time to understand the conditions. From these interviews, it doesn’t seem like any of these surfers have even bothered.

    There are some videos on youtube of the wave breaking, looking quite surfable. I understand it doesn’t break that way everyday but what exactly do you expect. Building an artificial reef that creates any surfable wave at all is a huge accomplishment that shouldn’t be overlooked and has obviously caused a lot of international buzz. Also, one of the interviewers said the beach breaks adjacent have improved and the body boarders like the wave; what exactly is the problem?

    Anyone who is environmentally educated also knows that artificial reefs have all sorts of ecological benefits as well. Like I said, this is obviously and exciting future and your community is one of the pioneers of this technology; I would be excited.

    • ramboestrada permalink*
      April 22, 2010 12:28 am

      You expect the local surfers to be excited about the potential of the company? You have to be kidding. The majority of money was raised by community, not tax payer dollars.

      The guys interviewed are every local surfer in the area that has either represented NZ at an international level or holds a national title. These are the best surfers in Mt Maunganui.

    • Ron permalink
      June 5, 2010 10:51 am

      “It seems pretty obvious that the author has some sort of vendetta against the company building these reefs.”
      California surfer, what do you know of how the project has been conducted? NOTHING!
      I’ve seen the whole project here at The Mount.
      ASR promised.
      ASR mismanaged.
      ASR failed.
      Worse of all: ASR is in denial and has no or very little accountability or self- criticism.
      ASR tries to shut people when they speak the truth.
      I say fix the reef before promising to others and wasting their money.
      I come from the world capital of “small” reefs, surfed and studied those complex beings. If ASR is willing to listen, I can help solve their “little” problems.
      Serious design to topography issues going on that need to be looked at.

      To the question:
      The reef seemed to have potential when it first went in, but now seems to be worse. Why do you think this is?
      I’d like to give my own answer:
      I’ve surfed the reef during construction and after construction. It was better at the beginning both on the beach and on the reef. Reason being that at the beginning, the sand was laid like the rest of the beach. The reef had a bit more “swell catchment” and “smoother sides” thanks to the surrounding sand. The swell was even refracting around and reforming on the beach with nice peaks at the beginning. Problem is The Mount Coast is side swept by rips. (east/west or west/east depending on the dominant winds and currents) so the reef naturally caused a big gutter between itself and the beach and the sand moved further along. Simple mechanics really. So the reform has quickly disappeared and a big trench was created. Deep water around the reef has made the reef wave worse than originally.
      This resulted in stronger rips and dangerous swimming in front of it, also poor banks straight in front of it. Sometimes there are good banks either side when the sand banks balance the gutter between the reef and the beach and the swell is right.
      I believe it can still be saved but it will cost a lot more or take a lot of work. But first, ASR needs to take ownership of the fact that it is a failure so far. (apart from a marine perspective I guess : sea weed, shellfish, fish, etc…)

  12. Leisure Suit Larry permalink
    April 22, 2010 2:06 am

    It’s a bummer it didn’t work. I’ve surfed many very short slabby b waves on reefs and was hoping that’s what this might make. I like the jetty idea. Look at Florida or Southern California when it’s going off, little peaks butting up against the jetty’s everywhere. Or putting up against a headland or cliff or something to get some bounce. Can’t you just dive down and tear those things open? You could sell the bags back to ASR and they can use it on there next sand bag reef job.

  13. californiasurfer permalink
    April 23, 2010 7:14 am

    Uh no, I don’t expect you guys to give a crap about the company…I expect you guys to care about the future of surfing and the health of coastlines.

    It’s pretty clear that you really don’t like the reef and the company that builds them; That’s cool. What you fail to understand is that these kinds of projects could really make a huge difference in the surfing world and for the coastal environment.

    I’m also trying to point that while you think the reef sucks, other surfers around the globe are really into the idea and see your community, because they were willing to invest in the idea, ahead of the curve. California is a long way off from considering alternative projects like that. And like I said before, I’m tired of seeing another breakwater thrown up on a beach.

    Just some things to consider. And I feel like if I were a surfer in your community, I would totally try it out and use it to promote my local scene.

  14. Mike permalink
    May 25, 2010 8:41 pm

    I was asked by a friend of mine who lives in Tauranga and has a bit of extra disposable income whether he should make a donation to the reef project as he had been approached about it. I told him to run a mile. I thought it would be a miserable failure and I can’t believe that Opunake and Lyall Bay were even considering one. I completely agree that the obvious thing to spend money on would be a groin like Duranbah or a pier. Look at Lyall Bay. A completely crappy close out beach break made into epic left handers by a groin sticking into it. A pier with some development on it would have been great. There are so many examples of piers and groins making great waves but not one of a “reef” successfully placed on a beach. Its just silly. If you are going to create a reef it surely has to be created in very deep water. It is hard to believe the number of people and communities beguiled into believing ASR’s promises. Bournemouth in North England is the latest to experiment with ASR’s promises at great cost $3m with modest success. The whole concept of using geotextile bags on the sea floor seems to be fundamentally flawed. Having said all that I’d be thrilled to be proved wrong.

  15. I knowwhocaliforniasurferreallyis permalink
    June 11, 2010 10:15 am

    I can reveal that ‘californiasurfer’ is actually ASR’s Social Media Director Adam Daigian, who has also been on other forums trying to hold back the wave of criticism of ASR. Key phrases in his posts give him away.

    Forgot to mention you are on ASR’s payroll again Adam?? My how forgetful you are!!

    • Ron permalink
      June 11, 2010 5:58 pm

      I thought Californiasurfer was a bit strange and opinionated – although he was supposed to know very little about the Mount Reef and have no surfing experience of it.
      Totally makes sense now!
      Pretty low of ASR, doesn’t help their case.

    • ramboestrada permalink*
      June 11, 2010 10:24 pm

      Ha ha yeah, I think you are right. His email is is the same name so that makes sense.

  16. July 2, 2010 12:02 am

    At the time those comments were made, I was not yet an employee of ASR. So you might want to get your facts straight while you call me out from the veil of anonymity.

    Furthermore, I do not feel that this post accurately represents the general consensus of a project not yet finished. I’ve now spoken directly with residents of the area that have a significantly different take than the individuals who take to the internet to air their grievances.

    Fact of the matter is I know exactly who ousted me. This individual constantly spams internet forums and blogs spreading information that is neither accurate nor represents any shred of reality. What effect do you believe this would have when you are unwilling to even reveal your identity, or for instance, at least use the same ‘handle’?

    Regardless, I stand by what I wrote. While you individuals ironically bash the only company developing alternative solutions to coastal protection, trillions of dollars are spent annually dumping rocks, building seawalls, and nourishing beaches. These funds come from your ‘rates’ or ‘tax dollars.’ Yet none of these so-called ‘surfers’ object to any of this. In fact, the information is disregarded or even disputed, despite obvious statistics and facts.

    Honestly, I have zero interest in trying to hold back the wave of ASR criticism. It’s quite obvious that a number of individuals blatantly hate our organization, which is completely fine. It gives someone like myself the opportunity to educate people on the reality that there is a much larger coastal protection story desperately needing solutions.

    • ramboestrada permalink*
      July 2, 2010 2:13 am

      I don’t have a problem with the potential of artificial reefs. I have a problem with ASR selling our community on the promise of a man-made quality surf reef, taking their money, giving them a piece of shit reef that doesn’t produce waves to 1/10th of the quality promised, and then trying to make out that the project is a success.

      Also to say the reef is not completed yet is a joke. Like it’s ever going to have more work done on it?

      And these locals you talked to? Were they actually surfers? The guys interviewed above are pretty much every surfer in Mount Maunganui that has a national title, or has represented NZ on a national level that was contactable at the time. They are the best surfers in the area.

      Who are these local residents you have talked to?

      • Ron permalink
        July 2, 2010 10:34 am

        Yeh Rambo. Well Put. I totally agree. Nothing against art. reef either…But SHOCKING behaviour from ASR…

  17. July 2, 2010 8:17 pm

    I understand what you’re saying and agree that it’s an unfortunate situation. Also, I’m not trying to claim that Mount Reef is currently a success.

    I would point out that to some, Mount Reef represents an exciting future and a step in the right direction. I was recently in NZ, and given that I spend a lot of time monitoring what Individuals say regarding ASR, I was quite surprised to learn that not everyone in NZ considers Mount Reef an unmitigated failure.

    Yes I spoke with surfers of the area. But I’m certainly not trying to discount what the surfer’s you interviewed have said. I’m merely pointing out that there is more than one way to look at the situation. And what might come as a surprise to you all is the fact that a lot of people are excited about what ASR is working towards. It’s a subjective matter.

    Frankly, there are a lot of complicated issues surrounding Mount Reef. For instance, did you all know that ASR did NOT build Mount Reef? That construction was contracted out, and that the construction firm was later fired by the Trust. Furthermore, ASR is currently working for the Trust free of charge. I’m also wondering if you all know that a certain key figure in ASR’s past is no longer with the company.

    I’m not trying to downplay the situation at Mount Reef. A lot of mistakes were made and not all of them ASR’s fault. I’m fairly confident that if you all knew the full story, It would more or less dissolve the resentment towards ASR. But unfortunately, we have an obligation not to point fingers or play the blame game, resulting in ASR taking the brunt of the criticism.

    Regardless, I do hope you all recognize that it’s a complicated situation tied into a much larger coastal protection story. Currently, Kovalam Multi-Purpose Reef is showing very exciting results, possibly representing the exciting future that I believe we all want to see.

    • Aron permalink
      July 3, 2010 9:36 pm

      We can understand that is a complicated and unfortunate situation, and I think everybody appreciates that. What is wrong is the way ASR did not front up and denied it was a full or partial failure. ASR tried to prove it with a few random pictures and semi-fake testimonials or at least choosing the (very) few positive feedback over the overwhelming majority of negative feedback.
      “Currently, Kovalam Multi-Purpose Reef is showing very exciting results, possibly representing the exciting future that I believe we all want to see.”
      Ye sure.
      I went and had a look at the video made by ASR.
      I first thought, great, they made progress.
      I watch it again and I realised the video “pre-Reef” was hiding the right part of the wave (which is the lefthander) and only shows the close-out righthander.

      Then when they show the Reef you see the part of the beach that was first hidden. You can see a first hollow then nice peeling (but short) left-hander.
      I thought, ok, why would they hide the right hand side of the wave? I went on Youtube and found that there was already a left hand wave where they put the reef!!! (video from2008)

      and pix from 2005 on wannasurf
      I also read on a site that local lifeguards were complaining of the dangerous rips created by the reef (like the Mount) and local kid surfers that the wave only works over 3ft now and that it’s super shallow and dangerous…
      So here it is, more misleading information from ASR.
      I think ASR needs to fix the unsuccessful projects like Mount Reef and England before selling their (unfinished) products all over the world…and lie about the final product…
      just does not look good and not very honest…

      • ramboestrada permalink*
        July 4, 2010 3:53 am

        Good looking out. I also heard there was a decent left-hander in India already. The shit they throw out there is definitely mis-leading and anytime someone actually tells it like it is, the have a cry about it.

        Check out this rubbish, yeah you got some barrels! Good one!

  18. Aron permalink
    July 3, 2010 11:31 pm

    He, just found a proper study on the Reef in Boscombe England, results are not good…

  19. I knowwhocaliforniasurferreallyis permalink
    July 5, 2010 11:16 am

    Adam, you do make me chuckle. I have in fact never posted against you on a forum, but have read your battles against others (I assume you think I am ‘Poo Stance’).

    I work in the industry as a coastal engineer (so please don’t say I’m ‘uneducated’, ‘uninformed’, or any of the usual put-downs, from what I read you are a law graduate so quite how feel able to provide informed comment about this is beyond me) and have followed ASR’s exploits for many years, with a mixture of amusement and amazement that quite so many people are taken in by them. Given this thread is about ASR dishonestly representing their projects – may favourite is their publicity regarding the Narrowneck Reef. They have two photos next to each one marked ‘before the reef’ and one marked ‘after the reef’, with the latter showing a much healthier sandy beach, to show of course the reef to be excellent at beach building.

    What ASR forget to mention is inbetween the two photos being taken, the NSW government had 1 million cubic metres of sand pumped onto those beaches! Proper professional organisations would not dream of doing things ASR do, those in the know think they’re nothing but a joke.

    • July 7, 2010 7:13 pm

      I’m discouraged to hear you say that, and surprised that as a coastal engineer, you don’t chime up on the Magic Seaweed forum and lend some education. I’d assume you would do that, and as an expert, you might do so not anonymously so that we can gauge your credentials.

      I’m not a law student or a coastal scientist. I am proponent of submerged offshore reefs for a number of reasons related to coastal protection and marine habitat primarily. I also believe that there is incredible potential for artificial reefs to serve as excellent surf spots. An email I received last night from a happy customer in Boscombe not only confirms this, but also reassures my own sense of promise.

      If you’re a coastal engineer, then presumably you’ve seen both of the independent studies on Narrowneck that point out its positive influence as a coastal protection element. But then we all know that monitoring coastal erosion and establishing a base line measurement from which to make assessments is basically an objective equation. Also, I have no idea what document you’re pointing to. Is it safe to say that you’re not a proponent of submerged offshore breakwaters as coastal protection devices?

      Also, if you’ve been following the thread then you’ve seen the underwater photos of Narrowneck and know for sure that marine habitat is NO JOKE:

      And that given the circumstances facing ocean ecosystems, there is a viable argument for artificial reefs providing marine habitat alone…

      While you talk about ASR not being a professional company, know that we were asked to present at the ICCE, which was very well received.


      I’ve examined hours of footage of Kovalam Beach and it is primarily a closeout. The conditions during monsoon season are super variable with powerful short period monsoon swell. And because it’s an enclosed beach, there are a ton of rips, especially when there is a lot of water moving.

      However, if you take a look at some images of Kovalam before the MPR, you’ll see that there was a rip in the left hand corner, which transported sediment away from the beach. This is no longer the case. Regardless, any beach break is going to throw up the occasional wave and Kovalam MPR was really designed for coastal protection. The fact that there was a barreling left in those conditions is icing on the cake.

      Also, when those videos were brought up in the thread at Surfer Mag forum, the poster was immediately called out. There are videos of weak lefts and rights lapping up to the shore. But if you can’t see the difference between those waves and the waves breaking on Kovalam MPR, then I’d be concerned about your sense of judgment. (sometimes I wonder if I’m even talking to other surfers)

  20. Aron permalink
    July 8, 2010 11:10 pm

    Hey Adam,
    I’m not saying ASR hasn’t improved the (average) wave there already was. I’m saying ASR chooses not to say the whole truth, hides bits and pieces to their convenience and chose very specifically the pictures they publish to their advantage, not necessary to represent the reality (like the “barrels” pix of the Mount Reef). And we all know the Mount Reef does not barrel but throws up some deformed hollows.
    I do recognise that ASR seems to have improved the Kovalam wave to a certain extent.
    In terms of coastal erosion, I don’t have enough expertise and mostly haven’t been monitoring it… I know the Reef at the Mount has created a rippy gutter.
    The marine habitat is definitely positive but you guys have some though competition on that level – see:
    I also think ASR had an arrogant attitude. Before the reef at the Mount was started, not enough consultation and debate was made with the local surfers regarding the reef setup.
    If I remember well I think the goal and swimming pool test was “A-frame barrel like Pipe”. (barrelling lefthanders in Easterly swells and barrelling righthanders in Northerly swells)
    I always thought that was a co*ky target. Some “nice peeling rights and lefts” would have been more suited to the Mount Coast topography and wave expectation (remember there’s a world class A-frame barrels beach break a few kms from Tay St already!!!). It would have been an easier target to achieve too. I believe the design and positioning was wrong since day 1 but there was no public consultation. Hence the result.
    ASR needs to change their attitude and approach to gain back some respect. Own up to your fu*k ups, that’s what grown up people do…then people will give you a second chance. Denying does not help at all.

    • August 5, 2010 8:52 pm

      Thanks Aron, I appreciate your honost feedback. In promoting your product, it makes sense to use the best materials available. And frankly, what we present is really all we have. ASR does have a reputation for over-promising — something we’re keen to move away from. But you have to understand how difficult that is when journalists are constantly misquoting you to appeal to readers.

      Another factor you may be interested in knowing, is that no where near 1.5 million has been paid to any of the parties involved in the project. Only a fraction of what has been paid, went to ASR. Also, the construction company was nearly sued by the trust but instead the trust cashed in on an insurance claim.

      We do hope, and believe, that our reputation will continue to improve in the eyes of surfers around the world. It’s important for our business, but frankly not crucial — though we don’t want to alienate the people (surfers) we’re actually trying to help. What might surprise you is that some people, even ones that use our Multi-Purpose Reefs, actually like what we’re doing and our developments. For instance, this facebook page dedicated to Boscombe Reef was started only two days ago and now has 40 members and a number of positive comments:!/group.php?gid=136933823008480&ref=ts

  21. Tommo permalink
    November 17, 2010 11:18 pm

    Adam, you should really just stop talking!! Fact, the reef is not what was promised!! Fact ASR sucked out 1.5 million dollars out of our small community, for WHAT?? I can’t get me head around that you are still trying to suggest that ASR are a plausible company. If they were commercial builders they would have been taking to the cleaners by now for building half a subdivision with roads but no power or gas??? How would that go down?? What if ASR were drug dealers, “Ohh, we supply you with wicked bags, but no cocaine! We haven’t worked that part out yet?” What would happen then, I f..ken bullet in the head thats what!!!

    ASR NEED to be stopped before the rip off other small communities around the glob! I

    • Adam permalink
      January 19, 2011 10:23 pm

      Tommo, that’s not an accurate statement. At no time was that amount ever even raised or dispersed and as I mentioned before, a majority of what was raised, was given to the contractors who were fired.

      ASR basically only received payment for designing the reef which was never even completed. The trust also cashed in on an insurance claim so if anyone feels that they deserve to be reimbursed, they should take it up with the trust.

      Look at Kovalam: completed reef = coastal erosion mitigation, marine habitat, and a completely surfable, barreling left.

      agree to disagree,


      • Brent permalink
        March 31, 2011 9:44 am

        Unbelievable really…. Adam I think you are missing the point. The surfers of the Mount, who fund raised for this project were essentially buying a surfable reef. They didnt get one. Does ASR do refunds?


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