The secret behind the Thistle class

Published on August 12th, 2013

After Superstorm Sandy destroyed the venue for the 2013 Thistle National Championship, the class was rescued by Sandusky Sailing Club in Ohio, which last week hosted 109 boats for the event. Here Mike Ingham comments on the how and why the Thistle class keeps rumbling on…

By any measure, a 109 boat Thistle National Championship is an achievement. For that, the Thistle class should be proud.

Let’s cut to the chase; Allan Terhune with wife Katie and Sam Parisi sailed fast and consistently to take his second consecutive Thistle National Championship. He did so averaging about 8th (ordinarily the winner averages half that) and not winning a single race (I have never seen that). They did a great job of rarely getting in trouble, and from my view on a motor boat, it is hard to describe how impressively hard that was to do in such a large fleet, particularly in this venue of shifty light breezes with big holes.

Before getting into the racing, I would like to point out why we got 109 boats; the Thistle Class is social. A Thistle regatta is fun whether you finish 1st or 109th. To help illustrate just how social…

-I think about 1/3 of the competitors were 30 and under.

-54 boats had two or more family members

-8 of the top 10 had 2 or more family members, most are couples.

-There are even boats with 3 generations of the same family on them

-Over half the fleet camped. Tent city was huge -and very fun.

-There is a fairly even mix of guys and girls

-Most everyone there are lifelong friends with each other. It’s like a huge yearly family reunion.

-There are lots of extras: babies, babysitters, grandparents all contributing to the scene.

-The Thistle class partners with grass roots venues. Sandusky Sailing Club is a spectacular volunteer family run and oriented club. They cater to the sailors -both on and off the water.

Thistle sailors know how to have fun, but rest assured, once on the water they are quite competitive. Here are my daily reports… read on

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