Cool rowing interview: Mike Hughes, US Naval Academy Women's Varsity Coach

Mike Hughes is the head varsity Women's Rowing Coach at the US Naval Academy, located in Annapolis, MD. He has been at Navy for many years, and has coached at several other schools, such as University of Penn. and Richard Stockton College, to name a few. He also was the team manager for many national USRowing teams, including the 1988 Olympic Rowing team that competed in Seoul, and is an instructor for USRowing's Coaching Education Program. I caught Mike in the time period right after his very successful Navy Rowing Camp for Girls ( Besides coaching, he consults and puts on some great Performance Enhancement Clinics, which are very popular (check out the latest USRowing magazine for an article by Mike). Following are a few thoughts from Mike about rigging.

Q. In terms of maximum boat speed, how important do you think rigging is?

A. I don't think that proper rigging makes a boat go faster, but it does allow a crew to demonstrate maximum speed.  In other words, improper rigging can impair a crew’s ability to reach top speed whereas proper rigging gives a crew the freedom to reach top speed.

Q. How much time do you devote to rigging per week during the season?

A. Once the boats are set for racing most of the rigging work is checking to make sure nothing has shifted or is about to break. So only a few minutes a week unless there are personnel or boat changes during the season. If I feel that the rigging on a boat is right, I rarely change things to adjust for wind or current unless they are severe.

Q. What is your favorite part of rigging?

A. When it is done and done right!

Q. What is your least favorite part of rigging?

A. Initially putting the riggers together and on the boat. I'd rather clean all the bathrooms in Grand Central Station with my tongue!!!

Q. Do you have one rigging tip that you would like to share with the readers?

A. Assume that things are always shifting in your rig even if it doesn't appear so. That will encourage you to check it more often and be sure that it is correct.

For more information about Mike and his Performance Enhancement Clinics, visit his Web site at