SMALL BOAT REVIEW
Thistle Story By Jabbo Gordon Photos by Deb Fewell Originally, these boats were of molded plywood, and the spars were spruce. Some Thistles are still built at home using wood, but they are not very competitive if their owners choose to race them. Most construction has gone to fiberglass hulls and aluminum rigging.
ecognized as one of the best and largest competitive one-design classes in the country, this high performance racer is sailed by rock stars as well as youth and families. Therefore, the class welcomes new and experienced sailors alike, attempting to match them with available new and used boats. The Thistle is similar to the International 14’s hull design that includes a plumb bow, and some sailors refer to International 14s as the Thistle’s little sister since they are three-feet shorter. There’s a reason, but it will require taking a short tack down a rabbit trail. Sandy Douglass and Uffa Fox had been sailing canoe buddies around the United Kingdom before World War II. Fox had created two breakthrough hull designs for the International 14, a developmental class, in 1931 and 1935, but four years later, Europe was at war.
Douglass had liked the looks of his friend’s creations, but wanted something a little larger. So, after the war, he drew up plans for the Thistle. (Continuing to commemorate
Specifications LOA Beam Draft Weight Sail area Sail area Mast height
17’ 6’ 4’ 6”/6” (board down/up) 515 pounds (hull only) 191 square feet (main and jib) 220 square feet (symmetrical spinnaker) 25’
The Facts Has centerboard (off a drum) Trailerable Sloop-rigged For racing or recreation Designer: Gordon K. “Sandy” Douglass First built: 1945 Website: www.thistleclass.com News & Views for Southern Sailors SOUTHWINDS