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Thread: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

  1. #36
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Spiffy. Maybe reef points are the key.

  2. #37
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    By the way, the Thistle centerboard is ballasted, I doubt you'd gain anything by going to steel.

  3. #38
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    No need to change the Center Board. The original weighs 95#. It was weighted so the boat could be kept on a wet mooring.

    I think the big issue with a Thistle as a daysailer is too much sail and two low a boom. Reef points will fix the too much sail. A second sliding gooseneck could take care of the boom. I think I'm going to try that with mine next Summer, unless someone buys it first.

  4. #39
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    I would consider installing a second sliding gooseneck. Then get a used racing mainsail and have a sailmaker cut it down and install a couple of reef points. More headroom and less sail area (130sqft) would be a good recipe for a nice relaxing ride.

  5. #40
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Cohen View Post
    This boat is set up for roller reefing as is.
    If you need to reef, it's windy...and there's probably a good bit of chop building. Single-handed, with some practice, you might be able to tuck in a reef with a slab reefing system. With the Thistle's roller reefing, you'd better reef before you leave the dock...and then you're gonna have a crappy looking reefed main.

    The Thistle rig is pretty powerful. 15 kts. of wind is enough to keep 3 large men hiking flat out. A smaller rig will make life much more pleasant. And get rid of that lump of lead in the centerboard. It doesn't help much, it's a pain to handle, and the boat is livelier without it.
    Schooner captains love to get blown offshore!

  6. #41
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    It dawned on me when I got my first boat at 45, an Int'l FJ, why I never saw pictures of chubby sailors in little boats. Who knew it could be that much work jumping back and forth is such a confined area?

    But 240#s comes in very handy when you have to hike or right a boat...if only for that! On the bright side, I count as a crew of two all by myself.

    If this happens, I will rig a slab reefing system. Most of my sailing is on small to midland inland lakes. On days when the wind is really howling, I would likely find something else to do. But it wouldn't hurt to practice my skills just in case.

  7. #42
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    I was seduced by an old fiberglass thistle once. Cleaned and fixed her up. Cut two feet off the foot of an older mainsail and added a reef. Bought a hank-on JY15 jib from Intensity sails (raise tack 6-8" or maybe put jib leads on aft side of grate.) Took her out in steady 15 knots and held on. I weighed about 175. I had the reef in before long. A couple hundred pounds of sand bags would have been useful to dampen things down a bit, but the only way to overcome the tenderness of the hull shape, I think, is to put weight on the rail. Inevitably, I came to the conclusion that it is just too much of a stretch to make her a single hander. It was not too hard to part with her finally. For all that, I would not attempt to dissuade anyone. It's a fine boat. And pretty, which is important and, in my opinion, rare among production boats of the size. Obviously the varnished example in question is particularly pretty. Will probably make you feel good just having her around, and you'll certainly have some good fun.

    Lately I've wondered about an albacore . . .

  8. #43
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Before I commit I'm taking a ride upstate NY to see the Albacore mentioned earlier. It needs some work, but nothing major. The aft decking is delaminating and needs to be replaced. I could probably just cut it out and use the old one as a template. I have plenty of 1/4" Okuome ply laying around from the GIS project that never was. Then just a lot of sanding and varnishing and rigging.

    There is a wood Lightning, #6499, for sale. It is in mint condition and supposedly is the hull was used to make the mold for the glass ones. There is also a Coquina available. Both are in the $10K range and bit rich for me.

  9. #44
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Great boats. I have owned a Thistle since 2004 and used it mostly for daysailing. I do have a main with a reef point but have not used it. The boat is well behaved and seaworthy.

  10. #45
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    You could sail it with just the main, and pull the centerboard halfway up to move the clr aft. It would also be possible to get a smaller main from Intensity Sails for not much money, all the way from a Daysailer main to a 420 main.

    http://www.intensitysails.com/

    That would leave you with the full-sized main when you want to sell the boat.

  11. #46
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    My Thistle boom was designed for roller reefing, but I don't know how you make it work, since the last block for the main sheet is in the middle of the boom, and the Vang is attached about 28" aft of the mast. I can't imagine sailing that boat with the main sheet going from the aft end of the boom to the block on the rear of the centerboard trunk. It would be an invitation to being clothes-lined during a tack or especially a gybe..

  12. #47
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Just curious . . . what is it that makes a Thistle so fast?

    I have heard very good Lightning skippers talk about mixed regattas where Thistles were part of the mix, and the consensus was there was no way to keep up with a well-sailed Thistle.

    I get that just having a much lighter boat with close to the same sail area as a Lightning must be a big part of it, but I am wondering if it is also the hull shape. Is the rounded hull shape of the Thistle inherently faster than the hard chines of a Lightning? Or is it something else about the hull shape?

    Just curious . . .

  13. #48
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    A Lightning just popped up near me in Joisey. Pics here: https://get.google.com/albumarchive/...e4YOlN7ST6S2_4

    1961 Olsen Boat Works (Red Bank, NJ) Lightning #7799 and custom, heavy-duty trailer with brand new tires. Full, meticulous restoration completed in 2011 (#7799's 50th year) with every effort made to keep her as original as possible. Olsen Boat Works delivered a well-crafted, quality boat using full-length select western red cedar for planking and honduras mahogany in other areas. New wood was introduced, only, as necessary, with the deck, stem, transom, skeg, and some deck framing being replaced. New mahogany rub rail was installed and original wooden spars and rudder were, also, completely, refinished. All surfaces were sanded to bare wood and treated with Smith's CPES (Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer) before being varnished or painted. Boat is outfitted with Harken hardware and large, stainless-steel bailers. All lines, assorted sails (2 mains, 3 jibs, 2 spinnakers), and an extra centerboard are, all, included. Since restoration was completed, #7799 has been day sailed (about 10 times) and has, only, seen fresh water (Manasquan Reservoir). When not in use, #7799 has been stored in a garage and it has a NJ title and registration and original Lightning Class measurement certificate. Selling, only, because this was boat project #2 of 4 that I have completed and I'm running out of, both, storage space and time to use the Lightning as it should be used. Boat is, extremely, solid, fun, and fast. In 2014, First Place recognition in the -Sailboats w/o Aux- category was received at the 31st Annual A.C.B.S. Barnegat Bay Chapter Rendezvous in Bay Head, NJ. $2000.

  14. #49
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Seibert View Post
    Just curious . . . what is it that makes a Thistle so fast?

    I have heard very good Lightning skippers talk about mixed regattas where Thistles were part of the mix, and the consensus was there was no way to keep up with a well-sailed Thistle.

    I get that just having a much lighter boat with close to the same sail area as a Lightning must be a big part of it, but I am wondering if it is also the hull shape. Is the rounded hull shape of the Thistle inherently faster than the hard chines of a Lightning? Or is it something else about the hull shape?

    Just curious . . .
    The Lightning is a 700# boat with 172sqft of sail area. Thistles are 515# with 191sqft. It's like when Sunbeam put a 260cuin V8 in the 2200# Alpine and made the Tiger.

  15. #50
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Succinctly put The Thistle is not only lighter and has more sail area, but the soft chines do reduce drag and the Thistle has considerably less wetted surface to boot. The Sunbeam analogy is perfect.

  16. #51
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Well, perhaps a Thistle with Albacore sails would be sufficiently tractable for single handing.

  17. #52
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    I don't know anything about the boat, but I paid $ 1000 for my old Lightning, and it had no trailer and needed a 15 month restoration. 7799 looks like a bargain by comparison, and it looks like most of the hard work has been done. I think I have seen Craigslist ads for the last few months. Who knows, there may be some room for negotiation on the price at this point?

  18. #53
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    The Thistle has a Portsmouth Rating of 83, across all conditions. (It is the standard around which other boats are rated.) There are only about a dozen boats with lower (faster) ratings, and most all of them have Trapezes. The Lighting has a rating of 87 in light air but drops all the way to 83.9 in heavy weather, where the Thistle is overpowered. For comparison, an International 14 is 85.3 going down to 84.10 in heavy weather and it has two trapezes.

    The Thistle is much lighter than the Lightening with a minimum total weight of 515# not including sails. Bare hull is 300#. The upwind sail area is a bit larger than a Lightening, though the spinnaker is smaller. It is narrower than a Lightening, and has less wetted surface. Beacause of the plumb bow, the Thistle has a WLL that is closer to the Lightening than the 2' difference in the LOA would indicate.

    Sandy Douglass originally intended it to be a day sailer as well as a fast racer. I don't know if the original sail plan was any different that the current one. If not, his idea of a day sailer was pretty ambitious. According to Thistle history, at their first open class race on Lake Erie, everyone laughed at this small light boat competing against larger Dingys, but he and his wife won by a huge margin.

  19. #54
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Seibert View Post
    Just curious . . . what is it that makes a Thistle so fast?

    I have heard very good Lightning skippers talk about mixed regattas where Thistles were part of the mix, and the consensus was there was no way to keep up with a well-sailed Thistle.

    I get that just having a much lighter boat with close to the same sail area as a Lightning must be a big part of it, but I am wondering if it is also the hull shape. Is the rounded hull shape of the Thistle inherently faster than the hard chines of a Lightning? Or is it something else about the hull shape?

    Just curious . . .
    The big part of that is that her stern sections are flat and slippery, and her fine entry beautifully transitions into her back end. Put her on a reach, pump some wind power in her sails, and she'll jump up on her bow wave and fly over the water surface. OKAY. That's a little dramatic, it's not a foiler; but the difference in speed between a planing boat and a boat pushing water in front of it is dramatic. And it kinda feels like flying. I used to be the front man, and I was often sitting in front of the boat's first contact with water. I used to call the Thistle a "Lazy man's I-14




    This is the first image of a planing Thistle that Google treated me to. Nice easy day. Only one skinny guy is hiking, and he's not really enthusiastic about it. The skinnier little thing up front is calmly setting up for the spinnaker hoist, and the guy driving is standing amidships, tiller between his knees, trying to sort out the fouled spinnaker halyard. (that last bit is conjecture, arrived at from what the photo seems to show and a bit of "been there, done that").

    It's hard to tell...a photo always takes a knot or so out of the estimate...I'd say that's not much more than 10-12 kts of wind. It does look like there's a nice long rolling swell for her to do some surfing on. Thistles do that nicely.

    Now dial in another 5 kts. Things get much more exciting very quickly. When the wind reaches 20 kts, your primary focus moves from going as fast as you can to not becoming a mark of the course.

    Almost as much fun as an I-14.
    Schooner captains love to get blown offshore!

  20. #55
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    There is no sound in this vid, but you can almost here the crew going...wheeeeeee!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHkAV0VQ_m4

  21. #56
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    More curiosity . . . are Thistle drawings and plans available?

    I am trying to piece together the class specs to just doodle around (quick and dirty lofting) with drawings on my Rhino CAD. I've got the basics from the Measurement Certs but don't have the details, such as height of stem above baseline and anything about the diagonals.

  22. #57
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Supposedly the plans are available from Thistleclass.com. Here is an image from an article called “building thistle”
    Attached Images Attached Images

  23. #58
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Alan - thanks much, found the plans for $28 in the Thistle Asso. Store. They are on the way . . .

    After working a little on drawings last night, I realized I how easy the Lightning is to loft with its hard chine and straight topsides. I will learn a lot from lofting a Thistle!

    It also struck me that the Thistle bears at least some resemblance to the planing dinghies of Uffa Fox back in the 1940s. Is that just a coincidence or was it more than that?

  24. #59
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Seibert View Post
    Alan - thanks much, found the plans for $28 in the Thistle Asso. Store. They are on the way . . .

    After working a little on drawings last night, I realized I how easy the Lightning is to loft with its hard chine and straight topsides. I will learn a lot from lofting a Thistle!

    It also struck me that the Thistle bears at least some resemblance to the planing dinghies of Uffa Fox back in the 1940s. Is that just a coincidence or was it more than that?
    Douglas enlarged one of the Fox dinghies, I think it was ALARM. Interior layout was the same. Douglas also built 14's; as I recall Mystic has a Douglas built 14.
    Ben Fuller
    Ran Tan, Liten Kuhling, Tipsy, Tippy, Josef W., Merry Mouth, Imp, Macavity, Look Far, Flash and a quiver of other 'yaks.
    "Bound fast is boatless man."

  25. #60
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    I always thought the Thistle WAS an Uffa Fox design since it's a dead ringer for any number of the fast dinghies he designed. And now, as I read Ben Fuller's post, and look it up in Wiki, I see that is basically is one after all.

    I think it's pretty cool that you're actually going to loft a Thistle. It'll be a thrill to see those awesome lines take shape full size in front ofyou

  26. #61
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Quote Originally Posted by earling2 View Post
    I always thought the Thistle WAS an Uffa Fox design since it's a dead ringer for any number of the fast dinghies he designed. And now, as I read Ben Fuller's post, and look it up in Wiki, I see that is basically is one after all.

    I think it's pretty cool that you're actually going to loft a Thistle. It'll be a thrill to see those awesome lines take shape full size in front ofyou
    A lot of people followed Fox's lead, including Morgan Giles, who had dominated the I-14 class before Fox.

  27. #62
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    We shouldn't expect too much from my lofting . . . I only learned the Rhino basics for lofting my Lightning so it will my 1st try to draw a boat with so many curves. And I have no idea how I would post my Rhino drawings here . . . lots to learn between Rhino and a boat with so many curves.

  28. #63
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Seibert View Post
    We shouldn't expect too much from my lofting . . . I only learned the Rhino basics for lofting my Lightning so it will my 1st try to draw a boat with so many curves. And I have no idea how I would post my Rhino drawings here . . . lots to learn between Rhino and a boat with so many curves.
    Just do a screen grab and post that.

  29. #64
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    A good read from the TCA History Chapter 1 on Sandy Douglas' thought process behind the Thistle:

    In an article on the Thistle written for Rudder magazine in the mid-Fifties, Sandy
    gave us a few glimpses into his background, and into the birth of the Thistle.
    Whereas yachting had been, “in olden days”, purely a rich man’s sport, the need for
    – and the advent of – such eventually popular craft as the Snipe and Comet opened
    the door for ordinary blokes like you and me, and the rush was on.


    So far, so good - but that was just the beginning. And right here, perhaps it would
    be best for us to step aside and let Sandy tell the story, with our thanks to Rudder
    magazine for permission to reprint the following passages from the
    aforementioned article:

    “As the new generation grew in skill and discernment there was soon a need for a
    better boat, a boat to give better performance, a boat equal to their growing
    ability. Also, with the continuing change in the world’s economic structure some
    sailors, finding they could no longer afford their own big boats, looked around for
    something with the handling quality they knew. But in a smaller size.

    “The one missing ingredient in cooking up a boat such as the Thistle was an
    economical method for building one at a price competitive with chine boats. This at
    last was provided by the Vidal process for molding hulls of laminated wood which
    first was put into practical use in 1938. The process made possible, at a modest
    cost, the strong light hull demanded by the light displacement planing
    centerboarder. The stage was set.

    “There were a number of definite objectives behind the design of the Thistle,
    most of them in conflict with each other because that is the nature of boats.
    Every boat is a compromise between what we would like to have and what we can
    afford to have. The most successful boat is the most successful compromise...

    “Needed was a family day sailer with excellent handling and performance
    characteristics. She must be big enough to carry a large party in reasonable
    comfort, small enough to fit into the average small garage, light enough for two
    men to be able to load her onto a trailer, and fast enough to give a good account of
    herself under all conditions. She must be reasonably dry and safer than the
    average. She must plane well and handle like a thoroughbred...

    “With these requisites in mind, suppose we look into the problem from the view
    point of the designer? . . . First comes problem of size. We must figure on
    sufficient displacement to carry at least six persons well and to race with a crew
    of three. A length of fourteen feet we know to be too small. Twenty feet? Too
    long to fit into many modern garages. Nineteen feet? Eighteen feet? Makes a
    pretty heavy boat. Sixteen feet? This is better for weight, but too short to carry
    the weight well. Seventeen feet. Sounds right. This is the length of most
    automobiles so we know she will fit into the garage. What beam? For this length
    six feet is about normal. If we can utilize the full beam there will be plenty of
    room inside, but if she has to have side decking she will tend to be cramped even if
    we stretch the beam another few inches. Also, a six foot beam keeps her down to
    the width of the car for easy trailering. Narrower than this, she may be tender.
    Let's try six feet.

    “What type of hull? We know that length on the water is probably the most
    important single factor in the all-around speed of a sailboat so if we are looking for
    good performance we must make her waterline length as great as possible and the
    only logical answer is to have a plumb bow and a plumb transom. With seventeen
    feet overall you then have seventeen feet of waterline length. Some people may
    object to the appearance, but is not performance more important than looks?

    “How about decking? The public may not like an open boat because people
    associate decking with safety and seaworthiness, and rightly so in many cases
    because some of the popular one-designs would founder in a short time if they did
    not have decking and splashboards to keep out the green water of Lake Erie seas.
    If we give our boat greater freeboard and flare, with her lighter weight she would
    lift over the seas instead of plunging through or under them. Without the weight
    of decking her bow will be lighter and will lift better than if she had it. Proper
    design will keep the water from coming aboard at all.

    “What type of rig? Inasmuch as our boat is to be a trailer boat she should have
    a simple easily set-up rig. Why not follow the rig developed for the International
    14? The mast staying is of the fixed-diamond-stay variety which requires only a
    single main shroud on each side and a jibstay. Two clip pins and a single turnbuckle
    attach them. It takes but two minutes to rig or unrig. No tuning is required.
    What could be simpler? Also for simplicity we will use grooved spars and will run
    the halliards down inside the mast onto small winches. There will be no cleats, no
    blocks, no mess.

    “What shall the sail area be? Interestingly enough, the classes with plenty of
    canvas are the ones which have lasted longest, such as the fourteen foot dinghies,
    the Stars and the bilgeboard scows. These are among the fastest for their size
    and it is significant that they tend toward a low aspect ratio mainsail and small jib
    with low fore triangle. So let's give our boat enough canvas to make her
    interesting, to perform well, and to be fun to sail even in light weather. I think 175
    square feet sounds about right, especially if we use a moderately low aspect ratio
    which will keep the center of effort low.

    “Now we come to the lines, the actual shape of the hull. With the greater length
    and beam we find that the displacement has come up rapidly so that we can ease
    the lines quite a bit as compared with the International 14 which has to be pretty
    chunky. Then a compromise. We want firm bilges to give stability, but if they are
    too firm she will have too much wetted surface, which will make her sluggish and
    sticky in light weather. Suppose we see what happens if we put the fullness of the
    bilge just above the waterline. This cuts down the wetted surface greatly, yet the
    power is there as soon as she heels a little and the big bilge sinks into the water.
    She may seem a little tender at the dock, but once underway she will stiffen like a
    house.

    “Here, also, may lie the solution to the riddle of designing a successful racing and
    family boat. With her normal crew of three persons her bilges are out of water,
    her wetted surface is moderate, and she is light and lively. But as we add
    additional weight and she sinks deeper into the water her bilges become immersed,
    she gains tremendously in displacement and stability. She appears to carry five or
    six persons almost as easily as she carries three and she becomes a comfortable
    family day sailer.

    “If we want our boat to be dry she must have a fine entrance to slice through
    the waves. A fuller entrance might give a little more speed, but the dryness of the
    fine bow is worth the sacrifice. Fullness higher up will provide the lift to get her
    over the seas and the flare to throw the spray down. The forebody, deeply vee'd,
    will take her to weather, will give her an easy action in big seas with no slapping or
    pounding, and will lift her into planing and give her plenty of dynamic stability at
    high speeds. The forebody blends into a flattish afterbody for planing. Her run,
    which starts forward of amidships, is almost straight for good planing, yet the
    bilges are tucked up just enough to keep them out of the water in light weather,
    especially if the crew will move forward a few inches.

    “Now we must calculate displacement, run the curve of areas, find perhaps that
    we need a little more fullness here, a little less there, rerun and adjust the lines to
    compensate until she is as she should be. And then we have the seemingly
    interminable wait while she is being built and finished before we can know how
    sound our decisions and compromises have been.

    “Many people do not realize that the great contribution of the various hull
    molding processes lies not in just giving us light and watertight hulls, but is more in
    liberating the designer from the restrictions imposed by the heavy inflexible
    materials used in traditional boat building. It used to be that the boat must be
    designed so it could be built from the materials at hand. Curves and shapes had to
    be simple. Now, dealing with materials such as one-sixteenth inch veneers or glass
    cloth, the builder can follow almost any reasonable shape and the result is better
    performance and handling qualities in our boats.

    "We have given a description of some of the Thistle's background, our hopes and
    aspirations for her. What of her actual history? The start of the Thistle Class
    Association was auspicious although unusual. In the autumn of 1945, as soon as it
    was evident that the war would end, the prospective Thistle owners, those who had
    placed orders for boats to be built on an "if and when" basis, met and formed the
    Thistle Class Association, complete with constitution, by-laws and officers, several
    months before the first boats were built. The class was so well organized that in
    1946, at the end of the first sailing season, the first national championship races
    were held, the site being Maumee Bay at Toledo, Ohio.

    “What had caused this great interest in a boat which was almost unknown? It
    has been said many times, and with reason, that it was the Thistle's first race
    that, because of it's unusual nature, made the Thistle Class. Because the race
    told such an eloquent story of the nature of the Thistle a brief account of it here
    will serve to give a better understanding of the boat.

  30. #65
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Part 2:

    “I had completed the Thistle prototype early in the summer of 1945 and for her
    first real test took her to Put-in-Bay for the annual regatta of the Inter-Lake
    Yachting Association. She was a double planked boat with very light framing, as
    close an approximation as possible of what a molded boat would be. She obviously
    was fast, and an open boat. The "experts" sadly shook their heads as they
    muttered that she was no boat for Lake Erie's nasty seas. If the weather had
    remained fair and mild it is possible that the Thistle might have remained unsung.

    “Fate was kind to the Thistle in providing an exceedingly boisterous northwester
    with seas which appeared to be at least twelve feet high but probably were not over
    six or eight. Being the only one of her kind, the Thistle had to race in the Universal
    class, a catch-all for the bigger boats that did not fit into any of the various racing
    classes, with handicaps based on the Universal Rule. There we were, faced with the
    prospect of sailing the big boat course, a fifteen mile triangle out on open Lake
    Erie, in winds estimated to be forty miles an hour and higher in the gusts. My wife
    Mary was my jib tender and our crew was enjoying his first sailboat ride.

    "Our competition consisted of a fair number of keel boats, the largest a big
    schooner, and of which the best performer proved to be a 22 Square Meter. The
    22s, coming from the leeward side of the Atlantic, are designed for and at their
    best in strong winds. The little Thistle, less than half the length of the other
    boats, was given time by all of them. Under such circumstances my hope was that
    we might complete the course creditably and perhaps save our time if all went well.
    I myself did not know what she could do.

    “We were given a windward start. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed that a
    few of the other boats were so smothered by the wind that they were unable to get
    across the line on the first try. I was astounded to find that we not only were
    holding our own, but soon were leading the fleet, footing as fast as the 22 and
    making good a full point higher. Just about every boat on the course was taking
    green seas aboard, plunging under solid water. The crews of some of the larger
    racing boats even formed bucket lines to stay afloat. We never once took solid
    water aboard and with a small tomato can my wife occasionally dipped out what little
    spray blew into the boat.

    “Soon we caught up to the stragglers of the class ahead of us. By the time we
    reached the weather mark the sail of the 22 was only a white dot in the distance
    behind us. Then came a wild planing leg and a broad reach home in a lightening wind.
    The race committee was astounded to see us coming sailing in, almost completely
    dry, more than twenty minutes. ahead of the second boat and some forty minutes
    ahead of the stragglers of the class.

    "We also won the remaining two races in moderate to light winds, being first boat
    in, never once calling on our handicap. But the old timers still mention "that race"
    which was the making of the Thistle class because it removed from the minds of
    those who were there any doubt of whether the Thistle could go out and take it.
    Now lightweight planing centerboarders have demonstrated their abilities in
    convincing fashion in such events as the One-of-a-Kind series that we know what to
    expect, but at that time they were almost unknown.

    “Needless to say, I was kept busy after the regatta taking people sailing by the
    dozens. Everyone wanted to try out the Thistle. And that is why there were so
    many anxious Thistlers-to-be chomping at the bit long before we were able to
    commence production.
    Last edited by Alan Cohen; 11-19-2018 at 06:27 AM.

  31. #66
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Central Vermont
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    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Alan - just found your article . . . thanks very much for posting that. I found it fascinating although there was a lot I didn't understand. The thing that struck me was that, in those conditions in the first race, Sandy Douglas must have been a world class sailor with the nerve of a snake charmer.

    I have looked through a number of Thistle threads and the jist was that the Class has all but excluded the possible certification of new home built wooden boats to the Class. Molds have to be approved in advance, techniques certified, ya-da-ya-da-ya . . . The conclusion of folks writing the thread was that the Class was concerned that, if modern techniques (e.g. cold molding and epoxies), etc, were used to build a wooden Thistle, it would ruin the Class because it would be so much better than its competitors. Because to be competitive you would have to get a new wooden Thistle, and the price of them would drive people of the Class, etc., etc.

    I don't get that . . . The offsets would be the same; the weight would be the same; the sails would be the same, etc, etc, etc.

    Is the issue that a cold molded Thistle glued with epoxy would be stronger and stiffer? That may be correct when compared with wooden Thistles built in 1950, but how could it be stiffer and stronger than modern FG Thistles?

    In the Lightning Class, Tom Allen's FG boats are the gold standard. He told me that, with today's FG techniques, he can build a minimum weight Lightning stiffer than you could possibly build a wood Lightning, and that is why his boats never lose to a woody. He knows what he is talking about and seems to be saying the exact opposite of the thinking that is attributed to the Thistle Class.

    So I'm confused . . . can someone help me out here?

    Why do I care? Because I think it would be great fun to try to build a competitive cold-molded Thistle. I may not be able to sail them, but I would love to build one and then see if the hot kids could make it go fast.

    Mike

  32. #67
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Central, NJ USA
    Posts
    271

    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    I am far from an expert on anything, let alone Thistles, but from what I've gathered so far it has been the practice of the powers that be to keep very tight reins on the class. Very few commercial builders, (D&M, Schock and Clark) have been certified over the years and I don't know of any official one-off Thistles.

    The upside of this policy has been that not one Thistle ever built has been made obsolete. Early wooden Thistles are just as competitive as their modern fiberglass versions, maybe more so. It seems the hot-molded wooden hulls retain their stiffness better that the fiberglass models, which tend to soften up after years of beating surf.

    They are so tight about the class, that even though I am buying hull #186, and official D&M boat, I believe I would need to have it measured again before I can register it with the class and race with other Thistles.

    They only began discussion on aluminum masts after the "Mast Breaker Nationals" of 1968. You can read about it in Chapter 14 of The History of the Thistle here: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/f...1lJVGhBYUIzTXM And it took a few years to finally agree on a mast that had similar bending characteristics and performance to the wooden ones

    The rest of the chronicled story is archived here: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/f...1lJVGhBYUIzTXM including how Lightnings were shamed time and again.

    I have only come to hear of Thistles over the past couple of weeks. But its obvious from the passionate stories and detailed documentation of the class members that these are very special and well-loved little boats.
    Last edited by Alan Cohen; 11-20-2018 at 09:00 PM.

  33. #68
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Central, NJ USA
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    271

    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    Re: the Thistle/Lightning thing, it seems there was a bit of smack talking going on back in the 50s.

    Screen Shot 2018-11-20 at 9.26.53 PM.jpg

    Screen Shot 2018-11-20 at 9.27.20 PM.jpg
    Screen Shot 2018-11-20 at 9.27.33 PM.jpg

    The result:

    Screen Shot 2018-11-20 at 9.28.18 PM.jpg

  34. #69
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Central, NJ USA
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    271

    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    I found an entry on Thistle 186 in the May 1948 issue of Bagpipe, the class rag. It was first purchased by Jim Nicolls and named "Wooden Nicholl".

    Screen Shot 2018-11-20 at 10.41.19 PM.jpg

  35. #70
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Central Vermont
    Posts
    317

    Default Re: Thinking about buying a Thistle (woodie?)

    I got my Thistle plans and am having a great time reviewing them and starting with the lofting project. But, before I get in too deep, I thought I'd better ask a few questions.

    When I lofted my Lightning, I hoped to loft a boat that was fast, at least on paper. I quickly learned that the builders of the winning Lightnings used the tolerances in the offsets to achieve a faster hull shape.

    Among other things, I learned:

    1. Loft to max allowable length - because long is fast;
    2. Loft the ends of the boat as low as allowed, to take advantage of the max length;
    3. Loft the forward section with high and narrow chines to create a finer entry;
    4. Shape the bottom of the forward section as round as possible;
    5. Gradually flatten the bottom arcs until you reach the flattest bottom allowed just aft of midships;
    6. Loft the middle section to max height at the centerline and make the chines aft of midships as low and wide as allowed to reduce rocker;

    So far in my Thistle lofting I have hedged my bets. Each of my drawings has one line going right down the middle of the original offsets. But there is also a second line where I have attempted to incorporate the Lightning ideas.

    But the truth is I don't really know what I am doing on the Thistle. For all I know, it may perfectly shaped right down the middle of the original offsets. On the other hand, there have been lots of improvements made in spars and sails over the years, and they may work better with a Thistle shaped a little differently.

    So, anyway, I was hoping that someone might be able to share what they know about how to loft a fast Thistle. The only thing I have come across so far is some references to builders who had gained some advantage with a finer entry than was standard.

    The Thistle Class allows a tolerance of 1/2" on either side of the original offsets, so there is some room to work with.

    Thanks in advance,

    Mike

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