Dave Hughes: Powered by the Past

Published on June 24th, 2016

by Nick Zaccardi, NBC Sports
Dave Hughes went to the 2004 Olympics as a training partner for an Olympian. He went to the 2012 Olympics as a coach. This summer, he will head to the Games for the first time as an Olympic sailor.

“I love Olympic competition,” Hughes, 38, said. “At its very soul, it’s something that keeps you young. In other ways, it’s such a unique activity that triggers the senses.”

Peel back Hughes’ story, and it triggers much more.

In 2012, Hughes coached the U.S. 49er team of Trevor Moore and Erik Storck to a 15th-place finish at the London Games.

Moore was last seen June 25, 2015.

He left a U.S. Sailing Center in Miami in a 15-foot inflatable powerboat. The boat, with Moore’s belongings, was retrieved later that day. Moore was not found.

Hughes and Moore were more than coach and athlete. They became housemates in Coconut Grove, Fla., after the London Games, as Hughes transitioned from Olympic coach back to Olympic-level competitor for one more try at qualifying for the Games.

To help, Moore took on an adviser-like role for Hughes and Hughes’ new partner in the two-man 470 class, two-time Olympian Stu McNay.

McNay, who spent blocks of time living with Hughes and Moore in what everyone called the “Olympic House” in Coconut Grove, described Hughes and Moore as best friends.

“I admit that it is an interesting story,” Hughes said. “At its base level, it is two best friends go to the Olympics, one as a coach, one as an athlete. Athlete unfortunately disappears. Coach turns to athlete. Coach qualifies for next Olympics. That’s the story.

“I know it sounds emotional, because it is, but there, how should I put this? Every Olympic athlete is driven by a multitude of reasons as to why they’re competing. Is it the pleasure of the sport? Is it for their family? Is it for themselves? But, for me, competing for Trevor is no small part of what drives me… he will be there with me in Rio.”

Hughes’ Olympic journey began leading up to the 2004 Athens Games. He had just started a 470 class partnership with Michael Anderson-Mitterling with an eye on the 2008 Olympics.

So they decided not to enter the 2004 Trials, but Hughes was selected as a training partner for the U.S. men’s 470 team that was going to Athens. That pair, Paul Foerster and Kevin Burnham, won gold. They remain the most recent U.S. pair to win Olympic gold in any sailing class.

Hughes took that experience into the next Olympic cycle, but he and Anderson-Mitterling came second at Trials. The winner? McNay, and then-partner Graham Biehl. They finished 13th in Beijing.

Hughes and Anderson-Mitterling considered another Olympic try for 2012 before deciding they couldn’t put forth a strong effort. Mitterling went into commercial real estate.

Hughes went into coaching. He would turn 34 in 2012 and understood that his best shot at competing at the Olympics may have been in his rearview.

Full report… click here.

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