BOSCOMBE’S artificial reef – the only one of its kind in Europe – is to host its first surf contest.

Organisers hope some of Europe’s best surfers and bodyboarders will come and test out the South Coast reef in a men’s open, 35+, ladies open, and under-18s junior contest on March 20 and 21.

Construction finished on the £3 million reef in Boscombe last November after bad weather delayed it by more than a year.

The Sorted Surf Festival will also play host to the first leg of the British Bodyboarding Annual Championships.

The event’s main sponsor Rip Curl will provide the prizes and there will also be demonstration equipment such as surf boards, paddle boards and kayaks to try out.

Gul team riders Mar Harris, known as Igor, and Russel Winter were also expected to be on hand to give advice and sign autographs.

An after-party at Urban Beach for contest organisers, sponsors and contest competitors as well as spectators will take place with a barbecue, drink and live music.

The contest will be a chance to silence critics who say the reef does not work and is in the wrong place.

The reef, which more than doubled its initial cost, was built by New Zealand-based ASR to enhance waves and is part of an £11 million regeneration of the seafront.

It was created to improve surfing conditions using 55 sand-filled bags which are 225m out to sea and cover the size of a football pitch.

It is designed to provide a grade five wave on a day with good swell which is in the challenging range and compares to the Hawaii Pipeline which is a grade-eight.