A GROUP of bodyboarders love using the Boscombe Surf Reef despite it being officially closed on safety grounds.

They say around 20 bodyboarders – and a handful of stand-up surfers – still use the reef, which they claim is far less dangerous than a natural reef.

But Bournemouth council has repeated its advice that people should not use the reef.

Paul Middlewick, 29, an aerospace engineer from Southbourne, said: “We know we are in the minority of those who do actually think it’s alright.

“It’s faster and more difficult than the waves at the beach.

“We have been around the world and all completed at national level and we know what we are talking about.

“The longboarders wanted waves where they could stand up for 200 metres. They hate it because it’s a dumpy, difficult ride, and they haven’t got the long, perfect wave they were promised.

“The quality is quite unpredictable but there’s no issue over safety at all. We’ve all been in a lot more dangerous positions than on the Boscombe Surf Reef.

“If you go in, the RNLI warn you, but they can’t stop you.”

He added: “This was a run-down area before and no one came down.

“£3million for the regeneration of this area is peanuts, really.”

The reef was opened in November 2009 but closed in spring 2011 after the council discovered two damaged bags had partially deflated, following a reported boat strike.

Clive Stopper, 28, from Southbourne, said: “The power of the reef waves is tenfold that on the beaches.

“I paddle out knowing even a small wave will pack a punch, something that will never happen on the beach.

“I don’t think you will find many surfers travelling up from Cornwall because the variety and quality there will always be that much greater.

“But I have been using the reef consistently and it has provided some of the best surfing I’ve had in Bourn-emouth.

“And you cannot have a safer alternative.

“If you get slammed on the bags, all you do is bounce!”

James Blackwell, 23, from Southbourne, an aerospace engineer, and former national bodyboarding champion, said: “It’s a really good wave for bodyboarders, really powerful – you can go a lot faster than you can by the beach.

“Any reef in the world is a lot more dangerous than this.”

A Bournemouth council spokesman said: “The reef has been closed for safety reasons and therefore we would advise people not to use it.”