musto-and-morgan-getting-their-silver-medals
Musto and Morgan receiving their silver medals

The sport of yachting is not the sport of the common man. At the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the Crown Prince Harald of Norway competed in the 5.5 meter competition, while Prince Bhanubanda Bira of Thailand sailed in the Dragon competition.

So when Keith Musto and Tony Morgan of Great Britain decided they wanted to be on the British sailing team at the 1964 Tokyo Games, competing in the Flying Dutchmen category, they knew that their class and blood was not going to get them there. As Musto said in this video interview, “we felt if we wanted to go to the Olympics, our background probably wouldn’t allow us to be invited to the Olympics. We had to earn our place.”

The first thing they understood was that they were not supreme physical specimens, but that they could work on their strength.

We felt the only way to address that was to be fitter than our competitors. We went up to the local school one evening, and we asked the PE instructor how we could get fitter. And he said, what do you do? What are the body movements? We told him and then he put us through a process for exercises, and finished up by saying, “If you do that every day between now and the Olympics, then you’ll win a medal.” So we did it every day. Christmas Day. Boxing Day. Everyday. Basically it was the start of circuit training as we now know it today.

musto-and-morgan-in-lady-c
Musto and Morgan in Lady C

As Christopher Brasher says in his book, A Diary  of the XVIIIth Olympiad, considerable strength is required in competitive sailing.

The crew member in the Star Class spends more of his time outside the boat than inside it. He hooks one leg and one arm over the gunwale and then lowers his body over the side to keep the boat as upright as possible. But he, poor lad, spends most of his time with waves breaking over him. Tony Morgan, the crew member on Lady C, does not get quite so wet because he swings out on a trapeze attached to the top of the mast. But to hold this position for half an hour at a time requires tremendous strength in his stomach muscles and hands. It is no wonder that he has had to train for three years.

What’s fascinating is that, according to Morgan, training hard was frowned upon by his colleagues in the sailing world. Perhaps it was a class attitude, that people of privilege should be effortless in their ways, without a thought of having to or needing to win. Here’s what Morgan said a student colleague said to him regarding the training Musto and Morgan were putting in as preparation for the Olympics:

Keith and I were regarded as a couple of people below the salt on the table. One day we were chastised verbally by the most senior person in the class, saying “I hear you train. We don’t do that.” I said, “I don’t know what you mean.” He said, “I heard you do a hundred press ups. I think this is a very in appropriate way to behave.”

Morgan and Musto of course ignored the naysayers. They were going to train. They were going to be selected to the Olympic team. And they were going to win, no matter what people would think. Musto reflected on that attitude, remembering the moment he entered the National Olympic Stadium that beautiful day of October 10, 1964.

At the Opening Ceremony you were waiting outside for many hours, and when you went in through the main entrance to the arena, it was s tremendous shock, the noise and the atmosphere hits you like a brick wall. It was fantastic. Up on the big notice board was the Olympic motto. I forget the exact wording but it was to the effect of “the spirit is to participate, not to win”. And I thought, “Rhubarb to that. I haven’t come here just to participate. I’ve come here to win.”

But alas, while physical prowess and tactical sailing skills are key to success in sailing, a wind shift here and a lack of wind there can change the fortunes of boats instantly. Ahead throughout the competition, Musto and Morgan thought they had the gold medal wrapped up with two races to go. But in the final of 7 seven races, a mighty wind took the sails of the New Zealand dragon class boat, and sent them flying past the British boat on to gold medal victory.

Disappointed, Musto moved on, knowing that the time in Tokyo was just one moment in a long life. Musto would go on to form a successful global fashion and sailing equipment business called Musto, and never look back.

Flying Dutchmen medal podium 1964
The medalists in the Flying Dutchman class yachting event on the podium at the Olympic Games, Enoshima, Japan, 21st October 1964. The gold medalists are Earle Wells (front) and Helmer Pedersen (1930 – 1987), of New Zealand. The silver medalists are Keith Musto (front) and Tony Morgan of Great Britain. The silver medallists are Buddy Melges (far right) and William Bentsen (obscured), of the USA.

Buddy Melges and Bill Bentsen had completed their first two of the seven races in Enoshima. It was the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and the pair from Wisconsin were doing so-so in the Flying Dutchman-class sailing competition: they finished tenth in the first race, but second in the second race. The third race, however, was a disaster.

“We were leading the (third) race,” Melges told me over the phone. “So we put up the spinnaker (the sail), which we should not have done. Our rudder broke, and our mast jumped out of the socket.” Dead in the water, they waited to be rescued. A large ship, part of the Japan Self Defense Forces, which were playing various roles in the Tokyo Olympics, approached Melges and Bentsen’s boat, named Widgeon. But the Japanese barge was coming on hard.

“This big profile was blowing down on us pretty fast! The captain saw our huge eyeballs and us waving our hands. He threw his vehicle in reverse, but he just missed crushing us. He almost sunk us!”

Self Defense Force at Enoshima
From the book, The Games of the XVIII Olympiad Tokyo 1964

Having just averted disaster, the barge brought the men and the boat back to shore. The Flying Dutchmen competition was held over seven days during the Tokyo Games. There was a four-day break between the fourth and fifth races, but unfortunately for Melges and Bentsen, there was no break between the third and fourth races.

“When we got back to shore, we got the Japanese boat repairers on it,” Melges said. “They were busier than hell all night long. We had to jump in and lend a hand because we thought there was no way they were going to get our boat out on time.” Additionally, the Americans needed a little help from the Canadians. The Widgeon’s rudder was made of plywood, so it simply wasn’t strong enough. In the spirit of sportsmanship, Paul Henderson of the Canadian Flying Dutchman team, shared a solid mahogany rudder with his competitor south of the border.

Melges and Bentsen went to bed at 6am on the morning of October 15, and woke up a few hours later to one of the few fine days during the Tokyo Olympics. With the wind blowing North Northeast at a wind speed of 10 m/s, Melges and Bentsen took to the water and shot out to a second place finish.

While the Widgeon finished tenth of the 21 boats in the first race, and was DQ’ed in the third race, they finished second in the second, fourth and fifth races, before dropping to third in the sixth race. In these sailing competitions, points are heavily weighted to top three finishes, so Melges and Bentsen were in strong contention for gold before starting the seventh and final race.

“We were in nice shape going into the last race,” Melges said. “We had expectations of a gold medal. We were a minute away from an imaginary line, the finish line, and we were in a perfect position as the wind was favoring us on the left side of the course. But there was this Star boat, tuning up before its race. He shouldn’t have been there, and he was right in our wind. He was blanketing our wind.”

The Widgeon lost its wind and Melges said that his boat almost sank, so close to golden glory. They ended up in tenth in the final race, giving them enough points to take third place.

“Even to this day, I tell people I didn’t do well,” said Melges. “But my rudder won bronze.”

Canadian Flying Dutchman Team 1964
Canadian athletes compete in the Team’s Flying Dutchman during the Tokyo Olympic on October 15, 1964 in Fujisawa, Kanagawa, Japan.

Flying Dutchmen 1964_Olympic_Report2_800_rdax_60

They came in 18th overall in the Flying Dutchman (FD) competition, but they came in first in the hearts of the Japanese.

Stig Lennart Käll and his younger brother Lars Gunnar Käll were sailing in the third race of seven in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics FD-class competition when they saw another boat ahead of them capsize, and of the two crew members floating in the middle of the Sagami Bay. Making a fairly quick decision, the Käll brothers steered their way towards the sailor in the water and plucked Australian Ian Charles Winter out of the water. Then they proceeded to the capsized Australian boat, Diablo, to rescue the second member of that crew, John Gregory Dawe, pulling him into the Swedish boat, Hayama.

Swedish yacht saves Austrlian yacht

According to the Japan Times on October 21, 1964, the exploits of the Swedish FD crew were publicized nationally in the Japanese press, sparking a barrage of gifts to be sent by grateful well-wishers to the sailing Olympic Village in Oiso, not far from the Enoshima Harbor where the sailing competition was taking place.

Their behavior also led to the creation of the Fair Play Prize. The first winners of this prize – the Käll brothers.

The Swedes still placed 12th out of 20 in that particular race. Seven others, including the Australian boat, did not finish the race. Of the six other races in the competition, this had by far the highest number of boats that could not finish. And yet, the Swedish brothers not only finished, they beat out one other boat – this despite taking time to rescue the Australians, and taking on considerable extra weight with the two new crewmen.

Stig Kall
Stig Lennart Käll