Tathra Wharf to Waves highlights safety as priority

Surf life savers patrol the waters on their boards and ducks, as Tathra Wharf to Waves contestants line up in the water to race.

Surf life savers patrol the waters on their boards and ducks, as Tathra Wharf to Waves contestants line up in the water to race.

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THE Tathra Wharf to Waves had safety paramount on its list in light of the tragic shark attack which occurred off the town’s beach last year.

In April 2014, Christine Armstrong was killed by a shark as she swam from Tathra Wharf to the beach.

At this year’s Wharf to Waves, the ocean was speckled with lifesavers on boats and boards, and the buzz of an aircraft could be heard overhead.

“We probably had more than what we needed, but I suppose that’s better than not enough,” race coordinator Andy Johnson said.

Mr Johnson said during the races there were four ducks (inflatable rescue boats) on the water, as well as 15 watercraft lifesavers in order to ensure everyone’s safety.

In addition, he said the Westpac helicopter Lifesaver 3 did aerial inspections to make sure there were no “marine critters” and a plane did an hourly check.

There was also the police launch craft and marine rescue boat, which are present every year.

In case of a mass rescue, the emergence plan was to pick up everyone on these crafts before taking them to the beach and checking them off to make sure everyone was accounted for.

But Mr Johnson said there had been no sightings of any shark, and as far as he knew swimmers were comfortable as the lifeguards kept a close presence to everyone.

Operations manager Linda Badewitz-Dodd said attendance to the event was a little bit down on previous years, and she hoped fears of a shark attack didn’t impact on people’s decisions not to come.

“But people are people, and it probably did,” she said.

She also said reports of increased sightings of sharks along the East Coast possibly influenced people’s decisions not to attend. 

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