Thistle Clean Class Initiative

Several members of the Thistle Clean Class Initiative holding up a Sailors for the Sea flag

What is the Thistle Clean Class Initiative?

The Thistle Clean Class Initiative is a partnership between the Thistle Class and Sailors for the Sea. The goal is to register as many Thistle regattas as possible under the Sailors for the Sea Clean Regattas program. Formed in 2020, this is a pilot for Sailors for the Sea to develop a program/model that can be applied to additional classes of sailboats.

Click to learn more about the Sailors for the Sea Clean Regattas program.

What is our Mission?

The purpose of the Thistle Clean Class Initiative is to recognize and take responsibility for our impact on the environment.  We will provide resources, share successes, educate, and demonstrate effective solutions to achieve this goal for our Thistle community, fleets, and event organizers.

Want to Get Involved?

If you’d like to join our efforts in helping to protect our environment, there are many ways to help!

  • Do you want to help at the national level and join the committee?
  • Would you like to help at the regional or local fleet level in registering and organizing regattas?
  • Can you help spread the word? Do you love posting on social media? We need help socializing the program and events!

Let us know, and we’ll get you set up!

How to Run a Clean Regatta

We invite you to join the growing Clean Regattas community and follow these steps to ensure a successful event! Sailors for the Sea Clean Regattas logo

1. Register Your Event as a Clean Regatta

Signing up as a “Clean Regatta” is easy, just go to, and sign up for the level you think makes sense for your regatta.

Here are step by step instructions on how to register and certify your event.

2. Select Clean Regatta Best Practices

The Clean Regattas Toolkit, which is available for download after you register your regatta, outlines a total of 20 Best Practices:


Select those you plan to accomplish and check them off on the online registration page. From there, you will learn what level of certification your efforts will earn: Participant, Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum.

The following eight Best Practices are easy to start with – achieve Bronze certification by just doing these simple things!

  1. Organize a green team ✔
  2. Eliminate single-use water bottles and provide water refilling stations ✔
  3. Eliminate plastic straws ✔
  4. Use or provide reusable bags ✔
  5. Award practical items or use a perpetual or upcycled trophy ✔
  6. Prevent toxins from entering the water ✔
  7. Encourage green boating practices ✔
  8. Use paperless event management ✔

3. Organize Your Green Team

Coordinating a Clean Regatta on your own is near impossible, and defeats one of the purposes of hosting a Clean Regatta: involving the community. Find a core group of people dedicated to sustainability to help you plan, communicate and execute your initiatives.

4. Publicize Your Clean Regatta Efforts

Communication is key when undertaking a Clean Regatta. Let your participants and attendees know about your sustainability efforts ahead of time. Highlight them on your organization’s website, social media channels and in email communications to participants. Don’t hesitate to repeat your message – repetition helps to instill lasting behavior change.

  • Use social media, NORs, email, and announcements at other regattas to share your event and best practices.
  • Post info on Thistle social media pages (FacebookInstagram) and tag these accounts in your own posts
    • Include some or all of these hashtags on social media: #sailorsforthesea #greenboating #greenboater #cleanregattas #thistlesailing
  • Encourage attendees to:
    • Bring reusable water bottles instead of single-use plastic bottles
    • Bring their own cups, utensils, plates, straws, etc.
    • Use reusable bags instead of single-use plastic bags
    • Carpool or use alternative modes of transportation
    • Use sunscreens with natural ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide
    • Bring sails to recycle (if recycling provided at regatta. For more info go to
  • List your regatta on the Thistle calendar page. You can add the “Clean Regatta” icon to your event on the Thistle calendar by selecting “SFTS Clean Regatta” under Regatta Level pulldown menu.

5. Document Your Clean Regatta Success

  • During your event, be sure to take lots of photos of your Best Practices in action
  • Collect quotes from participants
  • Collect any data or metrics on your efforts

6. Get Certified

Log into your account, check off the Best Practices you completed, and check the box marked “Complete – Submit for Certification.” Your official certificate will be emailed to you only after this step is complete.

For regattas aiming to earn Platinum Level Certification, you will also need to complete our Sustainability Reporting Form once the event has occurred. It will require pictures and descriptions of each Best Practice achieved. You must certify your event within the year that it occurred. Events happening in December have until the end of January of the following year to certify.

Clean Regatta Resources

Committee Information and Contacts

For general information or to join our committee, contact Mike Ingham at mikeoingham (at)

To share your success stories in the Bagpipe, contact John Duckworth at johnduc (at)

Need help running your clean regatta? Our committee members can help guide you through ideas and best practices that might work at your venue and even help with the online submission. Please contact us if you need help with registering or organizing a Clean Regatta event in your Thistle region:

Thistle Class Region Contact(s)
Atlantic Coast Cairn Krafft: cairnkrafft (at)
Trudy Hudson: tcahudson212 (at)
Danielle Buehler: bowerdanielle (at)
Central Southern Vacant
Great Lakes John Yingling: john.yingling (at)
John Duckworth: johnduc (at)
Pacific Coast Laura Graham: lagraham.0 (at)
South Eastern Darby Allison: dcreddaway (at)

Thistle Clean Class Initiative Committee Members:

  • Mike Ingham (Chair)
  • Darby Allison
  • Danielle Buehler
  • John Duckworth
  • Laura Graham
  • Trudy Hudson
  • Marilyn Hunger
  • Cairn Krafft
  • Joy Martin
  • Mary Pat McNulty
  • Sally Rusk
  • John Yingling

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