Dave Hughes: Ready to Perform

Published on July 13th, 2016

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Dave Hughes

Americans Stu McNay and Dave Hughes are among the medal favorites at the Rio Games in the Men’s two person dinghy event (470 class). Scuttlebutt editor Craig Leweck checks in with Dave for an update…

Tell us about your training.
The European leg of our 2016 came to a close with Hyères in April. We had a solid triple-header in Europe with the Princess Sofia, Europeans, and Hyères, plus all the training between events. It was a super productive spring for us. Now, it’s all about Rio!

We did three weeks there in May, finishing off with the Act-1 regatta. We repeated that formula in June with more Rio-based training, culminating with the Act-2 regatta. We’re now in Rio again for our final training session and the Act-3 regatta. After US Olympic Team processing in Houston in late July, we’ll head down one last time for the Big Event. Our first race is on August 10.

Time is the enemy. How’s the battle?
Time is always the enemy, however, our perspective is that we’ve properly scheduled our quadrennial so that we enter the final stages before the Games fully prepared. That includes all conclusions on equipment. As of now, we are settled on our gear and quite happy with how it’s performing!

The Games are held during Rio’s winter. What does that mean?
It means the sun sets early. Right now it is at about 5:23 pm, and when the Games start in a month it will only be about 10 minutes later. As for the normal Rio weather patterns, they are a mixed-bag of conditions regardless of the actual month. In truth, the best approach is to ready for all possibilities — 25+ knots in the Bay, 5 knots outside in the ocean swell, and everything between.

You will be competing on a variety of race courses. Explain the situation.

There are three courses inside, plus a fourth on reserve; and there are three courses outside. The challenge of the event is how each course has its own distinct character and different set of rules. The “Escola” and “Pao” courses on the inside, for instance, are known for patchy, shifty breeze and intricate current lines. The outside courses of “Copa”, “Pi”, and “Niteroi” can be hit with big swell and have entirely different wind than the inside on any given day. Whether inside or out, it’s always “eyes-open” sailing. You can rarely put the blinders on and hit a side.

We hear a lot about the pollution and health risks. Have you guys ever gotten ill?
We haven’t been ill and hope to keep that trend going through the Olympics. Rest, hydration, and all the normal healthy practices seem to be the best medicine. Is there pollution in Rio? Yes. Do I want to see cleaner water? Of course. Will the pollution distract me from competing? No. My personal reality is that I’m there to perform on the Rio water, not test it.

Recent Rio headlines have turned to the Zika virus and crime. Does it feel like a crisis?
It does not feel like a crisis here, but a heightened sense of alert is obviously good measure. We haven’t concentrated on these issues. Perhaps this is due to an over-enthusiastic media elsewhere; or, perhaps due to our own extreme focus on training and the bubble that creates. Either way, you must always be responsible in a large city and at a major global event. That’s a constant no matter the location.

Is Rio buzzing with now a month to go?
Rio is constantly buzzing! It’s sometimes hard to discern what’s Olympic fever and what’s normal. It’s such a vibrant city.

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