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Team Ingham Wins the 2016 Thistle National Championship

posted Aug 10, 2016, 5:25 PM by Thistle Class   [ updated Dec 12, 2016, 8:12 PM ]
There were 58 teams that completed in the 2016 Thistle National Championship that was hosted by the Eugene Yacht Club from July 25-29, 2016.  The conditions were the best that the Thistle Class has seen in many years, with all 7 races being sailing in 10+ knots of wind, sunny skies, and comfortable temperatures.   Mike Ingham, Delia Ingham and Dan Fien dominated the fleet with all single digit finishes including three race wins.  They ended up with an 11 point victory over second place finishers Paul Abdullah, Brian Swingley, and Sarah Paisley.  Third place went to Kyle Finefrock, Brad Russell, and Nicole Shedden.  Fourth to John Baker, Aaron Holland and Joy Martin, and fifth to Mike Gillum, Bill Dexter and Alison Gillum.  The Presidents Division was won by Graham Vaughan, Doug Stumburger, and Liesel Mordhorst, with a 22 point lead over the second place team of Dean Iwahashi, Dave Keran, and Leanne Botello.
The Eugene Yacht were the perfect hosts for the competitors.  Nearly all the competitors camped on site and the club volunteers were able to provide three meals daily for everyone. Special thanks goes to Regatta Chairman, Stuart Ramsing and his assistant Nicole Tiffany for putting on a fantastic event. 

See the writeup below from Mike Ingham, which was posted on the North Sails web site:

"Eugene YC is a special place both on the water and off. We had been to the there for the last 2 Nationals, so we immediately signed up this year barely consulting our calendars –everything else could take a back seat.  When asked what it is like, I would say "The wind comes in like clockwork (no foulies required), the RC is spot on, the club members are gracious hosts, the camping is perfect, the scenery beautiful and there is never a drop of rain.”  Fortunately, the 2016 Nationals lived up to those exaggerations.

North Sails were represented well both on the water and off. Paul Abdullah and I helped many customers tune their rigs and we gave a “Dock Talk” to a packed audience. Thistlers are hungry to learn. North Sails claimed and impressive 19 of the top 20 spots! Just as interesting, all four North cuts were represented in the top 10 – North has a cut for every sailing style!

We got all 7 races off in Northerly winds 12-15kts out of the north: the thermal direction. This is the long direction on the lake, so the legs were full nationals length, which is a lot of hiking. The water was pretty flat, and the shifts pretty big. The high end of the puffs blew into the low 20’s and the low end was light where we had to sit in. Tricky stuff! The reaches were full on planning. It was good fun racing. I thought he tricky part about going fast was shifting gears. Those that shifted well differentiated themselves. We did that well and that was one of the keys to our win. Here are some of the things we did:

  • Constantly were looking out for puffs and lulls and communicating. Delia counted down the puffs and lulls: “puff in 3, 2, 1 puff on”, or just as important “big lull in 3, 2, 1, lull”. She was relentlessly observant.

  • I was clear about what mode we were in. If it was marginally overpowering, I would say: “full hike” and I would balance the helm by easing just the right amount. But if it got lighter I would say; “I am fully trimmed” so Dan and Delia would know to balance the boat by moving their body weight and I would trim to the top telltale.

  • Dan played the vang a lot with the increased wind. The more it blew, the more he would put it down to match my easing the mainsheet to keep the mast bent. He would make his best guess at where he thought it should be and then we would talk to fine tune it.

  • Same with the jib. If I eased the main enough to get a big bubble up front, or even flog it, Dan would crack the jib just enough to get that bubble down a little. We found if we eased too much, we would lose height, so the ease was subtle.

  • In the lulls when we were in that mode where Dan and Delia balanced the boat, I was very careful to trim to the top telltale of the main. It was easy to sheet too hard because having just come off a puff, I would trim in as it got lighter. So I kept looking up at that telltale and Dan would too. He would take a quick look every time the wind changed significantly and we would talk about how much trim was right. It was flat water, so I could stall it a good amount and still keep the boat moving.

  • We adjusted the cunningham and outhaul a little, but not much. Things happened quickly and getting the “big lines” (main sheet, jib sheet, vang, and boat balance) right was way more important than the “little lines” (fine tuning of controls like the cunningham).

    Most of the fleet camped out to perfect weather. There was dinner served at the YC every evening, and then we hung out by the fire and “karate chop” sailed through the evenings. Then we started it all up again over breakfast together in the morning –there was no reason to leave the grounds. We all are looking forward to the Nationals in NY next year. Those that make the trek keep in mind that there are 2 other regattas in NY, one in late Aug and the other the first weekend of Sept. So feel free to leave your boat at Rochester Canoe Club and stick around or fly back for those. Let me know and I will set you up!"

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