Airwave – World’s First Inflatable Surf Reef

All eyes will be on Bunbury in November as it becomes the focus of the surfing world. The Airwave is the first inflatable surf reef, bringing a ‘world’s first’ initiative to the City of Three Waters.

After ten years of research, design, patenting and product development, Waveco Pty Ltd is ready to install and test the world’s first inflatable surf reef approximately 40 metres off Bunbury’s Back Beach.

The Airwave is a two-metre high, dome-shaped bladder, twelve meters in diameter at the base, designed to make an a-frame, where there was merely a close out before.

The inflatable dome is shaped to mimic a surf reef’s shallow leading-edge, lifting, peaking and hollowing the swell to create a concave, tapered wall of water. Because the Airwave is installed in relatively shallow water, the concave wall retains its shape as it peels towards the beach.

The Airwave is designed to work across a wide range of swell and tide conditions. Its subtle hydrodynamic design, allows water and sand to pass smoothly over it, helping to form sandbanks in the surrounding beach environment and limit beach erosion. They can be installed as close as 30 meters from the beach.

Airwaves are simply constructed from a long life, super strong, environmentally safe compound, designed to have minimal adverse effects on the surrounding environment. They are very simple and quick to install.

As the Airwave is installed relatively close to the beach, it has the added advantage of being very quick and safe to paddle out to, ideal for beginner and grommies, while still working for more experienced surfers in larger swells. Its air-filled ‘top’ also provides a softer landing point and alleviates the chance of cuts and injury from natural reefs.

The design will allow for a consistent wave breaks so that the take-off zone is in the same compact area, making the most of every swell. Waveco will be accurately recording swell data, wave shape and length as well as the effects of sand movement around the installation. The long-term aim is to install airwaves in multiple locations along Bunbury’s Back Beach, creating multiple surfing peaks. 

Bunbury provides a unique location for surfers; within 5 minutes of leaving the water, you can be sipping a latte in the CBD, no 4WD is required and you’re only 1 hour and 45 minutes from Perth and just over an hour from Margaret River. Start getting excited!

What to know more? Journalist Dianne Bortoletto chats to Troy Bottegal, the founder of Airwave in the latest edition of BunGeo FOUND Magazine.

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