North Sails NEWS

August 7, 2019


Breathtaking Venue Delivers Great Racing & Lots Of Fun

thistle sails
North Sails expert Paul Abdullah and team Crime Scene 📸 Paul Bickford

The 2019 Thistle Nationals were held in Sandpoint, Idaho July 20th-26th. Sandpoint is a beautiful resort town located in the Northwest part of Idaho. Wayne Pignolet and his team followed the script: “If you build it, they will come.” They did a fantastic job! The sixty-six teams that attended left with a smile on their face.The Thistle class loves a good destination, and everyone enjoyed the experience Sandpoint had to offer.

On Saturday morning the teams were finding their way through measurement and over to the beach where the boats would be kept for the week. A clinic was postponed until later in the day when the wind was going to be better. North Sails experts Mike Ingham and Paul Abdullah with Greg Griffin provided on the water coaching to the group. Greg and Paul had a little scare when their boat took on some water while trying to rescue a capsized Thistle. They successfully returned the boat to shore. It’s true… You can’t sink a Boston Whaler!

On Sunday the Women’s and Junior Nationals were held. There was a great breeze for four races. Nicole Shedden notched another win to her string of Woman’s Nationals, and Conrad Miller won the Juniors. Congratulations!

thistle mainsail
📸Mike Jewell | Sandpoint Sailing Association

The Thistle Nationals format is not about winning or leading on the first day, but more about not losing it. The first three qualifying races determine the Championship and Presidents divisions. The Championship fleet has to keep its scores, so points are very important. Doug Kaukeinen was the leader at the cut posting a 1-1-6. As tradition goes, Doug would be passing the Mint Juleps around the awards banquet later in the week.

The Thistle Nationals format is not about winning or leading on the first day, but more about not losing it.

Heading into the last four races, 5-6 teams had a shot of winning the Nationals. Paul Abdullah won race 4 and was leading on the water, but Tom Lawton had a great day and was the leader after race 5 was over. It was all going to come down to the last day, and the field had thinned itself. Tom was leading with Greg Griffin close behind, and then there was 12 and 13 points between 3rd and 4th placed boats. Tom had a bad 6th race and fell a bit, and that left Greg Griffin in a good position going into the last race. Scott Meyer continued to have a solid regatta and was able to fight off Paul Abdullah for 2nd beating him by a point, but it was Greg’s week capping off a lifelong journey to win the Thistle Nationals. Congrats to him and his team, Mark Reddaway and Amy Thompson for accomplishing a dream!

Paul Abdullah’s Takeaways For Success

  • First And Foremost Is Preparation! I am OCD when it comes to boat prep and making sure that everything works. The last thing I want is gear failure. Make sure the rig is tuned properly after a long cross country trip.
  • Be Sure The Team Knows Their Roles. In the heat of battle you need to have everyone focus on their job and not get caught up spectating. I know personally that driving fast takes a lot of concentration, and trusting your team allows me to be my best.
  • Sailing Flat And Fast Was The Key To Our Success. We had great breeze in Sandpoint. Steven (our middle crew) did a great job playing the vang and the jib sheet in the puffs and lulls, and Marie (forward crew) adjusted the jib halyard and main cunningham accordingly. As a team, we kept to boat balanced so we sailed fast instead of fighting it.

North Notes

  • Fifty-seven out of the sixty-six boats were powered by North fast Thistle sails.
  • Championship Division: 2,3,4,5,6,7,8 used North Sails
  • President’s Division: 1,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 used North Sails

We are looking forward to the 75th Thistle Nationals in Cleveland in 2020!

Learn more about our fast Thistle designs.

thistle sailboat
📸Mike Jewell | Sandpoint Sailing Association
thistle spinnaker sail
📸Mike Jewell | Sandpoint Sailing Association
thistle national championship
📸Mike Jewell | Sandpoint Sailing Association
thistle jib and mainsail
📸Mike Jewell | Sandpoint Sailing Association
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