About The Thistle

The Thistle is a high-performance one-design racing sailboat that is generally sailed with a three-person crew. Thistles have a main, jib and symmetrical spinnaker sail plan. They’re:

  • Consistently fast due to the high sail area to weight ratio
  • Quick to plane thanks to the wide, flat stern
  • Built to slice through waves with the plumb bow

It’s a fun, fast, responsive boat that does well in a wide variety of conditions. Thistles plane easily in 10-12 knots of breeze and glide effortlessly in light air. 

What's the ideal Thistle team composition?

The typical Thistle crew has three people with a total weight of 450-500. Because there are no weigh-ins or crew weight requirements, you’ll see lots of different crew set-ups.  

What do our one-design principles mean for you?

The class holds firmly to one-design principles (“a form of racing where all boats are virtually identical or similar in design” says US Sailing), which rewards the quality of the sailor rather than the dollars invested in the boat. What does that mean in practice?

The TCA has implemented measures to keep costs reasonable and avoid an “arms race.”

  • Boats need to meet weight and measurement requirements to be allowed to participate in regattas.
  • No one is coming to every regatta with a crispy, new set of sails because boat owners can buy only one suit per year.
  • We don’t allow coaching during regattas (“paid hand” onboard or in a coach boat).

There’s a strong history of leadership and governance in the Thistle Class. Our class officers:

  • Enforce the spirit of the rules as well as the letter
  • Uphold the rule that says that if something is not in the rules, it’s prohibited
  • Encourage a unique balance of top-level competition, affordable racing and a family atmosphere

Where Can I Buy a Thistle?

Whether you’re looking for a new boat or a used one, there are plenty of quality Thistles for sale. New boats are available from the class-approved builder: Beacon Composites. Search through a collection of used Thistles for sale at a variety of price points on the Thistle Marketplace.

One of the things you’ll love about the Thistle is the affordability for such a competitive class. A new Thistle runs around $25,000 for the hull, spars, blades and rigging. For a very competitive used boat, expect to spend between $10,000 and $15,000. Want to try the boat and upgrade later? You can pick up a ready-to-sail used Thistle for under $10,000. 

Need help figuring out what’s right for you? Let us know, and we’ll set you up with a local Thistler who’ll be happy to walk you through your options. 

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