Ripped seam puts world's first inflatable surf reef on hold

December 17, 2019 | Surfing
Airwave: the inflatable surf reef is two-meter-high, and 12-meter-wide | Photo: Airwave

The installation of the world's first inflatable surf reef has been put on hold at Back Beach, in Bunbury, Western Australia.

According to Troy Bottegal, the inventor of the Airwave, the device has been torn at the seam while being lodged on the ocean floor, 50 meters from shore.

"A very deep swell that we weren't expecting created an undertow that was pushed through the lineup. The current - going back and forward - put some pressure on that particular seam," explained Bottegal.

The good news is that, apparently, the under-current hasn't ripped the rubber. The developer says it is "the strongest and most durable rubber in the world."

Although the Airwave is not yet completely anchored to the seafloor, Troy Bottegal says that "the installation is 90 percent complete."

Back Beach, Bunbury: Western Australia is installing the world's first inflatable surf reef | Photo: Airwave

Positive Vibes

The Airwave a two-meter-high, 12-meter-wide, vault-like bladder.

When filled with air, sand, and water, it will redesign Bunbury's Back Beach bathymetry in a specific surf zone, making waves bigger and better.

The inflatable reef's prototype cost the City of Bunbury $75,000. The ultimate goal is to attract surf tourists to the region.

If the surf reef's bladder cannot be repaired, another Airwave will need to manufactured overseas, delaying the trial by at least 30 days.

"The dive team were blown away by the beauty of the structure and convinced of its ability to stay securely anchored and endure high swell conditions after installation," added Troy Bottegal.

"Our learning curve has been massive, and we know so much more about the technology than prior to installation."

Waveco, the company behind Airwave, confirms it is 100 percent committed to the project and hailed the City Council and people of Bunbury for their encouragement and support.

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