When you find the right combination, something just clicks. Call it chemistry, call it kismet, call it cosmic alignment.
Whatever you want to call it, it’s working for the newly-minted Olympic tandem of Stu McNay and David Hughes in the men’s 470 sailing class, who qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in sailing after earning bronze at the 470 European Championship in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.
Four years ago, it may have been seen as an unlikely pairing. Back then, McNay was competing in his second Olympic Games with partner Graham Biehl, while Hughes had his eye, literally, on another class, coaching Erik Storck and Trevor Moore in the 49er.
After London, McNay and Hughes came together as a team, and they quickly realized success, picking up the first of two North American championships in 2012. They also have gold-medal world cup finishes in Miami (2013, 2015) and Weymouth, England (2015), where the London Olympic regatta was held, and have won the last three national titles. The feather in their cap, though, came last year with their victory at the European championship in Aarhus, Denmark.
Ask any athlete how they feel about their Olympic chances when they’ve won a major international competition one year out from the Games, and the answer likely will be optimistic. The golds from the 2015 European and the Miami world cup, along with two top-six finishes at the world championships this quadrennium, mean McNay and Hughes can pack a healthy dose of cautious optimism in their Rio luggage.
“Although they have only been together since 2012, Stu and Dave are both veteran 470 sailors and Olympic team members,” said their coach, Morgan Reeser, on McNay and Hughes’ official website, mcnayhughes.com.
Reeser speaks with authority as a 470 silver medalist himself at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games and as a coach for medalists in the class in Athens 2004 (gold) and London 2012 (silver). He hopes to add to that collection with McNay and Hughes under his tutelage.
“They have worked hard to refine their campaign and reach a gold medalist level,” Reeser concluded. “They have what it takes. They are on the path towards the podium.”