American chasing Southern 80 glory - Andrew Johnston

February 10, 2018

International impact: American Justin Legere has come from California to compete at his first Southern 80.

The waters of the Murray River are different to anywhere else in the world.

Especially to those in the United States, but that does not worry skier Justin Legere.

Legere, 31, from Camarillo, California, about an hour west of Los Angeles, cannot wait to take it on.

‘‘I’m absolutely stoked to get to race the event,’’ Legere said.

Legere is competing this weekend in the Southern 80, racing behind Race Marine boat, driven by Dave Bishop.

‘‘Dave reached out to me in November,’’ Legere said.

‘‘He gave me the opportunity to ski this event and when you have a race with the reputation that this event has, you jump at those kinds of opportunities.

‘‘What you hear about this event from all around the world is that this is the greatest ski race going around the world. So I can’t wait to get that experience.’’

Legere is not new to the sport, having skied some of the biggest events in the world in his years on the water.

‘‘I’ve skied in Australia before,’’ Legere said.

‘‘I did the Sydney bridge ski in 2016, I’ve skied Catalina five times as well.

‘‘I’ve skied the US open five times, the world championships in Seattle, so I’ve done a lot of stuff around the world.’’

Now, he is adding the Southern 80 to the list.

‘‘I’ve done a lot of reading and listening on the race, I’ve watched a few videos of different parts of the event and you can see it’s an incredibly challenging event,’’ Legere said.

‘‘What I’m used to is more of that circuit style of racing. This is completely different. Having an event shut down an entire river, 120 turns over 80km, it doesn’t get more intense than that.’’

Most people go into the Southern 80 with the goal of winning their class.

And while Legere wants to win, it is not his only priority.

‘‘I don’t really go into a race like this with any expectation about how things are going to go,’’ he said.

‘‘I’m going into a class where a lot of these teams have been competing together for a long time now whereas this is my first crack at the event.

‘‘I’m really hopeful things go well for us as a team and we can get the kind of result that we want to get. But at the same time, I just want to see us get through it in a good time.’’

After multiple trips down under, the 80 is not all Legere is looking forward to at the event.

‘‘I have a few friends in Australia now so I’m looking forward to catching up with them,’’ he said.

‘‘Last time I was here it was all in Sydney, so I can’t wait to come down to Victoria.

‘‘I’ve heard some amazing things about Echuca, it’s apparently an absolutely beautiful part of the world and I can’t wait to have a look around and get to know the people around the town.’’

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