Beach Day at Thistle Nationals

Published on July 27th, 2015

Fort Walton Beach, FL (July 27, 2015) – The Thistle Class National Championship got underway today in light winds, with two qualifying races completed for the 50 boats. Preliminary results show Mike Ingham with crew Dan Fien and Sarah Paisley leading with a 1-2, John Baker in second with a 3-1, and Paul Abdullah in third with a 2-3.

The seven race series is scheduled for July 27-31.

Event websiteResults

Report by competitor Brad Russell:

The Thistle Class National Championship is underway after 2 great races in Fort Walton Beach, FL. After postponing ashore for a couple hours waiting for the sea breeze to begin, 50 Thistles headed out for a great afternoon of sailing.

The sea breeze came in as the locals said it would, but it quickly went further right than normal, making it difficult to predict what was likely to happen next. The question was whether the breeze would continue to move right as sea breezes typically do, or if it would stop where it was and settle in. After an unsuccessful attempt to time the oscillations our boat decided we didn’t have a clue.

The fleet was anxious and the first attempt to get a race off saw a massive number of boats OCS and the race was blown off. The next start with the threat of a Z flag penalty got the fleet to behave and the race went off clean.

The breeze did in fact move further right, up to 30 degrees further than we were led to expect. The shifts and puffs were unpredictable until you could see them. The scores showed it, as only 3 boats had 2 very good races. It proved especially variable as the boats worked further up the course, nearer to the heated land that made staying smart more difficult.

While some say you should always go right, both sides paid at times and the two sides worked in very different ways. Our boat felt like we could see the left advantaged breeze coming and it would last longer but the angle didn’t stay as good for as long. The right, to us, was much more difficult to see what was happening until the boats showed around you showed the change.

Downwind, pressure seemed to pay. With a bigger fleet, the middle was rarely able to work. Boats that did best tended to stay towards the edges.

The top 3 boats were clearly the class of the field. Mike Ingham leads with a 1, 2 followed by John Baker with a 3, 1 and Paul Abdullah is in third with a 2, 3.

On our boat we felt a little off pace tuning up before the racing. The first race proved we weren’t as fast as we hoped, and a shim change between races made a big difference. Our biggest issue and area for improvement is managing risk and consolidating as soon as possible in the variable conditions. The verbal highlight of the day was first time Thistler Liz Walters on my boat worrying about where the spinnaker halyard disappeared to when we were sailing downwind (it was holding up the spinnaker).

The social scene is great and we just had a fantastic shrimp boil put on by the EXTREMELY helpful members of FWYC. We can’t wait for tomorrow and another day with our Thistling friends!

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