THE man behind the failed £3 million surf reef at Boscombe has disappeared, according to the company trying to contact him.

As reported by the Daily Echo in November, ASR, the firm that won the contract to build the reef, is in liquidation.

Now, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), the company handling the liquidation of New Zealand-based ASR, has published an update report.

It said it had been unable to contact director Nick Behunin, who it said was understood to be ‘overseas’.

PWC has now sold the company’s assets – two cars, one trailer and office equipment for a total of 7,447 New Zealand dollars – around £4,100. The company held $36,436 in the bank, roughly £20,100.

Bournemouth Borough Council is not listed as a creditor, but said it had applied to be one.

It said it was ‘close to finalising an insurance settlement’ over propeller damage to the reef.

It would not comment on the situation regarding ASR.

Mark Smith, service director for tourism, said: “The huge potential of the reef as an all-year-round attraction can be more fully developed through the Coastal Communities Fund initiative we received to ensure that it contributes still more to the economic regeneration of the area.

“These plans include a commercial dive centre, a try-dive facility and a dive and snorkel trail around the existing reef, with additional submerged artefacts for more experienced divers.”

Bournemouth’s Labour leader, Cllr Ben Grower, said: “The disappearance of Nick Behunin is no surprise to me and is symptomatic of the whole fiasco surrounding the surf reef and the lack of control, checks and balances when it comes to spending council tax payers’ money.”

Chris Skone-Roberts, a Boscombe-based surfer and photographer, said: “They should tear the bags open, let nature take its course and turn it into a natural marine environment.

“It’s a danger to life in the state that it’s in.”

David Weight, an engineer who came up with the original idea for a reef almost 20 years ago, said the council was and still is ‘being a bit blinkered’.

“Even now I think they should invite proposals on what could be done. I don’t think all is lost as you have a foundation there; most of the bags are in place.

“It could be profiled in a different manner and there are opportunities, but I don’t trust the council to decide what those opportunities are,” he added.

The Echo has been unable to contact anyone from ASR via phone, email or through its website, which is still live.

See all our stories and videos on the surf reef and an interactive timeline at