About The thistle Class

Meet The Thistle Class

Welcome! So you’re interested in sailing a Thistle? Let us introduce ourselves.

About the Thistle Class Association

We’re a community of people who love the Thistle and get a thrill out of sailing it with our friends – new and old.

The Thistle Class has been around since 1945 when Sandy Douglass introduced his new one-design sailboat and amazed the naysayers. The class is still growing and active; you can find Thistles – and Thistlers (that’s what we call ourselves) – all across the country.

We have as much fun on shore together as we do racing. You might see group yoga on the grass, a camping chair circle (always room for more!) or an impromptu training session at someone’s boat. We love sharing knowledge and getting people up to speed. Walk up to anyone in the parking lot and ask about their strategy, rigging, mast tune, anything! We’re glad to help.

You’ll find lots of family boats in the Thistle Class, and it’s not unusual to see young kids sailing with their parents or grandparents. Quite a few marriages have come from people getting to know each other through Thistle sailing!

Thistlers are competitive, but we value the camaraderie we have in the Thistle Class.

We often call these people our “Thistle family.” Join us!


Would The Thistle Class Be A Good Fit For You?

“I’ve never really sailed (unless that one time counts?), but it sounds cool.”

New to sailing? You might become a Thistler if:

  • You enjoy being outside and appreciate nature, especially water
  • You’re looking for an exciting new hobby (Like hiking, biking, climbing? So do we!)
  • You want to do that hobby with great people and find your tribe
  • You’re up for a (doable) challenge
  • You love a good adrenaline rush every now and then

In short, if you love being active outside, try sailing a Thistle with us. You’ll enjoy being in the boat – it’s fun and fast – and you’ll be welcomed by a great community of people. (Don’t be stuck on shore…give it a shot!)

Thistle Class Association fun

“I regularly sail other boats, but the Thistle looks interesting.”

Do any of these sound like you?

  • “I just finished college sailing and need to find a new boat to race.”
  • “I don’t have a ton to spend on a boat, but I want something that’s fast and competitive.”
  • “I want great racing in a class where it’s not about the money or the paid crew.”

Looking for fun people to sail with and against? We’d love to meet you and get you in a Thistle. You’ll be part of a welcoming community, and you’ll love the speed and responsiveness of the boat. 

Here’s what new Thistlers who’ve sailed in other classes say
about why they participate in Thistle sailing:

The Thistle provides a great challenge and an opportunity to grow your skills with a fun group of people. If you’ve just bought your first Thistle, your first year of TCA membership is free. And if you’re under 27, the class offsets fees for the big regattas to make them fit into your budget.

The Thistle Class is a proud member of US Sailing
💪Thistlers.Women have been sailing these boats since the very first Thistle race in 1945. Celebrate #internationalwomensday by tagging some of your favorites. ... See MoreSee Less
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One of our classic East Coast Fall venues is doing some early spring spruce ups. Chip in a little if you like. ... See MoreSee Less
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Eight bells to Wade Hough. From Michael Gillum -Sorry to report that Wade Hough passed away from cancer this past Saturday at 80 years old.Wade was a fighter as cancer had nearly consumed him several years earlier but he was able to win that battle.Wade was passionate about sailing, Thistles, woodworking and his wife Bettie Ann though not necessarily in that particular order.My introduction to Wade was a phone call introducing himself and telling me he had found a wood Thistle in a used car lot that he was going to restore as he had sailed a wood Thistle with his father in the ’50s in Tampa Bay as I recall.Several months later Wade shows up with a beautifully restored #812 to be measured.Wade was an early convert and advocate of WEST Epoxy which he used restore Thistles #812, #1021 & #769 as well as many fiberglass Thistles and other boats over the following decades.A year or so later Wade asked me how he could get better on the race course so I asked him what he did for living and he replied he was a Kiwi Farmer. I told him that he needed “Tiller Time” and Bettie Ann needed time in the boat so they started sailing afternoons a couple of times a week and within a year or two they won NCAL Thistle Districts.Wade was the spark plug that started and grew a thriving Thistle Fleet at Oroville Forebay [California] where the attached photo was taken late one winter afternoon after it had rained all day and then the sun came up so we went blast reaching in 25-30 knots back and forth for an hour or so with huge grins!So many fond memories and we’re all so truly blessed to have had Wade Hough in our lives!Sail on my friend. ... See MoreSee Less
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