Country of the host city
Participating nations reached an all time high, 93, though South Africa was not invited by the IOC. But 42 nations did contest the sailing competition, eight fewer than in Naples, held at Enoshima, a multi-million dollar marina, on Sagami Bay. Though two medals for Canada back in 1932 was the first time a nation outside of northern Europe had claimed Olympic success, the Americans put in a really strong performance in Japan; no gold, but a medal in every class.
There was distinct whiff of 'trade' amongst the competitors, following Elvstrom who had turned his sport into his business. The Olympics remember, were still amateur under the IOC code. The founder and future president of North Sails, Lowell North and Peter Barrett took bronze in the Dragon and silver in the Finn respectively. This was Barrett's second Games with US Olympic Committee having described him in the official book as a 'non yacht owner' when he placed 11th in the Finn class in 1960.
Another sailmaker and another Dane to move countries, Helmer Pedersen won the Flying Dutchman class for New Zealand, particularly impressive in heavier winds and igniting the spark that saw this tiny country's rise into a sailing superpower. Behind 'HP' were Briton Keith Musto, the European Champion, and Harry 'Buddy' Melges, their names to become two brands as well known to sailors around the world as North's. Durwood Knowles won his second Star medal for Bahamas, securing the gold despite retiring from one race with a broken mainsail halyard and bettering his 1956 bronze. But the tightest competition was in the 5.5s. In the concluding seventh race no one was sure of the title but AUS, USA, SWE and ITA all could have done.
It boiled down to American J J McNamara and Swede Lars Thorn had a tack for tack duel up the final beat with McNamara making a desperately close attempt to cross Thorn on the final cross. The American foul prompted McNamara to retire. He took the bronze, Thorn the silver and Australian Bill Northam, clear of the fight, the gold.