SOMETIMES winning isn’t everything.
For two crowd favourites, finishing was the goal.
Ben Pettingill finished ninth skiing behind 99PC in the 60mh Expert.
Luke Johnson was sixth in the disabled class behind Floor-It.
What matters is that the two blind competitors competed in — and finished their events.
For Johnson, it was magical first time racing at the event.
‘‘I’m really happy to be finished,’’ Johnson said.
‘‘I dreamt of racing here and now I’ve done it, it’s a wonderful feeling.’’
Pettingill, in his second Southern 80 — though his first on the full course — was more focused on his team performance than his personal achievement.
‘‘The boat handled well and was incredibly driven. Unfortunately I made a couple of mistakes on the water that cost us a fair bit of time,’’ Pettingill said.
Jessica Pearse, who drove the boat, didn’t see it the same way.
‘‘We put together an incredible effort as a team,’’ she said.
‘‘Benny skied an fantastic race, we were overall very happy with how things went. It was amazing to get Benny over the line in front of this crowd.’’
It was a crowd that were filled with love for the people’s champion.
For the second year in a row, Pettingill was met with the roar of the crowd, ecstatic to see the team across the line.
‘‘I can’t thank them enough,’’ Pettingill said.
‘‘I have been treated with so much warmth by the people of the towns for not only today, but the whole time I’ve spent here for the event.’’
While Pettingill says he doesn’t like to think of his condition as holding him back, he admits that it is a surreal feeling being the first blind man to complete the full 80km course.
‘‘It’s the most amazing feeling,’’ Pettingill said.
‘‘When I took it on, I knew I wanted to do the full course. Before last year it was always about doing the full event, I only stepped into the shorter one just to get the feeling right.
‘‘Now, I feel like I’ve finally achieved my goal and done what I dreamt of doing. It is a great moment for me.’’