The Thistle is a 17' open dinghy designed for racing and day sailing. The Thistle was designed in the 1940's by Sandy Douglass, and first built in 1945. The sail plan consists of a main, jib and spinnaker. The boat can be easily rigged by one person. We race them with a crew of two or three, although they can be sailed by one person in lighter air.
The Thistle's classic design is unique among current sailboats. One of the most noticeable differences between the Thistle and newer designs is the fact it does not have a deck. This makes the boat lighter, and, coupled with its hull design, causes it to ride up over waves not through them. This also lowers the center of gravity so that a Thistle not only does not 'turtle' when swamped, but makes it very easy to right by the crew.
The Thistle is a round bottom boat, which causes it to increase in stability as it is heeled, or as weight is added. The boat has a planing hull, and will plane easily in 10-12 knots of breeze. It moves very easily in light air, and it is not unusual to see a Thistle moving along over mirror smooth water, while all other boats are becalmed.
The modern Thistle has changed very little, with the Class Association respecting one-design principles. While accepting certain state of the art rigging and construction, it does so in a manner that leaves the older Thistles competitive. A modern Thistle is of fiberglass construction with built in flotation and metal mast and boom. Rigging is at the discretion of the owner.