Developing a Clean Class Initiative

Published on January 23rd, 2023

by Joy Martin
Thistle Class Association regatta organizers have been utilizing the resources of the Sailors for the Sea powered by Oceana to run clean regattas for the last five years. Each year the number of regattas utilizing the 20 best Clean Regatta practices identified by the Sailors for the Sea organization has increased dramatically.

During the last year, members of the Thistle Class, led by Class Champion Mike Ingham, have been working to scale up the success of these individual regattas to an initiative which will standardize these practices at every Thistle regatta and Thistle club event.

In addition, the class and Sailors for the Sea are developing a tool kit to help other one design classes explore ways they can help make protecting and restoring the health of our waters a standardized routine while sailing and competing.

The Clean Regattas program provides event organizers with a framework of 20 best practices that will protect and restore the health of our waters, including engaging the local community, reducing pollution, protecting sensitive habitats, and limiting single-use plastics.

In the past five years alone, Clean Regattas around the world have prevented approximately 6.9 million single-use plastic water bottles and 1.7 million plastic straws from polluting our oceans by encouraging events to replace such throwaway plastics with reusable and environmentally friendly alternatives.

Sailors for the Sea certifies the level of sustainability success with designations from participant, bronze, and silver up to gold and platinum level participation. In 2021, the Thistle National Championship and the Cleveland Yachting Club achieved the platinum level with over 450 competitors. In 2022, twenty-six Thistle events registered and ran clean regattas.

In 2023, The Thistle Class intends to have their three premier regattas, the Thistle Midwinter Championship West in Mission Bay, CA; the Thistle Midwinter Championships East in Fort Walton Beach, FL; and The Thistle National Championship in Flathead Lake, MT achieve Platinum Clean Regatta Certification.

The Thistle Class Association is also eager to help other classes protect and restore our waters through the Clean Regattas Program. Contact Mike Ingham of the Thistle Class at to help you get started. (Or help you through the process.)

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