David Hughes is no stranger to the Summer Olympics, having participated in 2004 and 2012. But when he and his sailing partner Stuart McNay take to the water next week in Rio de Janeiro, it will be the first time he competes as an Olympic athlete.

Hughes, 38, is a graduate of Yarmouth High and the University of Southern Maine who now lives in Miami. He will race with McNay in the 470 class – a two-man dinghy – during sailing competitions scheduled for Aug. 8-18.

Hughes was a training partner in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, where the U.S. 470 team of Paul Foerster and Kevin Burnham won a gold medal. Eight years later, Hughes coached the U.S. 49er team of Trevor Moore and Erik Storck to a 15th-place finish at the London Games.

Following the 2012 Olympics, Moore convinced Hughes to make one more try as a sailor.

Moore, a close friend of Hughes, was lost at sea in June 2015. His death has been a driving force in Hughes’ quest for an Olympic berth.

“Every Olympic athlete is driven by a multitude of reasons as to why they’re competing,” Hughes told NBCSports.com. “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 was born in Ithaca, New York. His family moved to Maine and he attended schools in Yarmouth, getting involved with a youth sailing program at the Harraseeket Yacht Club in South Freeport. He attended USM, where he was a member of the Huskies sailing team in his final two seasons. According to his bio there, he sailed in the A boat his senior year.

He graduated from USM in 1999 with a degree in American government. While at USM, he secured internships in the U.S. Senate (1996), U.S. House of Representatives (1997) and the White House (1997-98). He was named a Rhodes Scholarship finalist in 1998.

After USM, Hughes became director of SailMaine, which oversees the Maine high school sailing league in the spring and fall.

Australia’s Matt Belcher and Malcolm Page are favored in the 470 Class in Rio, but Hughes and McNay could be medal contenders. They won gold medals in 2015 at the World Cup and the European Championships, and earned a bronze medal at the 2016 European Championships.

“Is that a guarantee of a medal at the Olympics? For sure not. But it does mean we’re on the right path, absolutely,” Hughes told The Associated Press.


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