Tathra Wharf to Waves reaches Africa

INTERNATIONAL WAVES: Annabelle, David and Chloe Jane Forrest of Tathra are volunteering aboard the Africa Mercy hospital ship.

INTERNATIONAL WAVES: Annabelle, David and Chloe Jane Forrest of Tathra are volunteering aboard the Africa Mercy hospital ship.

For two years the Tathra Wharf to Waves has had a long-reaching impact. 

David and Justine Forrest with their daughters Annabelle and Chloe have been working with the Mercy Ships program in Africa and introduced the concept to the coast of Madagascar previously. 

However, the ship is ever-travelling and this year Mr Forrest and his family will host the 600 and 1200-metre ocean swims off the coast off Cotonou in the Republic of Benin.

Mr Forrest said he enjoyed keeping up the tradition as the Wharf to Waves took on a strong meaning to him. 

”On Saturday we will create history in the inaugural ‘La Mer Nager au Benin’ (the swim in Benin),” Mr Forrest said. 

He extended an open invitation to eager swimmers from the crew to join him for a dip.

Meanwhile, locally there are already hundreds of early bookings to take part in this weekend’s events including a number of swims and the popular mountain bike ride. 

As a physical education teacher Mr Forrest always encouraged students to take on life-long physical activity. Many of his former students still take part in Wharf to Waves.

“I challenge any of my former students from Sapphire Coast Anglican College, who have not done the swim to give it a go this year,” he said.

Mr Forrest said there were around 450 permanent residents on the Africa Mercy Ship and the swim draws a crowd from both the deck and the shoreline, but now heading to his third year isn’t likely to do it alone. 

He’s had guest appearances including an Alaskan swim champion and hopes a few will join him for a dip again this year. 

“To me this is more significant than New Year’s Eve,” he said. 

“It marks the end of one year and the beginning of another.”

Forrest is already a ‘Squidgy Club’ member for those who’ve dived in for 10 years or more and a number of entrants are expected to chase their membership this weekend. 

Organisers said the water is warm and crystal clear with a good forecast to the weekend ahead.

Entries for all events are open online at www.wharf2waves.com.au.

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