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Local surfers say artificial reef plan would pay for itself

REEF BREAK: Surf school operator Lee Winkler says an artificial reef would bring tourism benefits to Coffs Harbour.
REEF BREAK: Surf school operator Lee Winkler says an artificial reef would bring tourism benefits to Coffs Harbour.

IF TOURISM and economic benefits to Coffs Harbour were key factors in the North Wall's redesign, the artificial reef concept would gain an instant rubber stamp.

That's the feeling of a dedicated group of locals who have formed the Surf Reef Coffs Harbour community group.

Headed by Ken Dovers, they have liaised with the Crown Lands department since the State Government confirmed a North Wall upgrade was being planned.

In a big drawback to their ambitions, the government's initial costings indicate the artificial reef concept would be the most expensive of the four options on the table.

Former professional surfer Lee Winkler says the reef would more than pay for itself in economic return to the city.

"If you understand the ocean and its power, this option is the best solution to the harbour's ongoing development issues," he said.

"This could be a huge opportunity for Coffs Harbour - a reef that protects the marina and in the right swell conditions pitches up a world-class wave, and then when the seas are flat is a perfect dive and snorkelling site."

Lee Winkler has ridden the best breaks in the world and wants to see Coffs Harbour get its own world-class wave.
Lee Winkler has ridden the best breaks in the world and wants to see Coffs Harbour get its own world-class wave. supplied

Ken Dovers said the natural rocky outcrop stretching along the wall currently provided protection by causing right-hand breaking waves that dispersed the energy of the waves away from the wall.

"Our suggested solution in line with the consultant's Option 4, is to replicate this natural occurrence with the construction of a submerged reef that would cause the waves to break and refract away from the breakwall," Ken said.

"Surfing is an iconic part of Australian culture yet receives virtually no public expenditure on facilities.

"This is an opportunity to solve a problem for the harbour and spread the benefit across the community."

Topics:  lee winkler north wall



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