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Story Contributors: Mike Ingham


North Expert Mike Ingham Shares Clinic Tips

📸 Tina Deptula

North Sails expert Mike Ingham hosted a one-day clinic for over 20 Thistles in preparation for the 2020 Midwinters West in San Diego, CA. Boats were overpowered at first, but later in the day, the wind softened.

“It was nice to see both wind ranges,” Mike says. “Reviewing the on-the-water videos, I found some common threads that were well worth talking about with the group.”

If you couldn’t be there, here’s what Mike saw.

Flat, Flat

The Thistle likes to sail flat, especially in Mission Bay where there are no waves.


To keep flat when overpowered, you need to depower. Here are a few thoughts on how to do that in flat water:

  • Outhaul – Tight the outhaul until the foot looks stretched. That shelf is important.
  • Cunningham – Make sure your main halyard is up all the way and your cunningham is reasonably snug. Wrinkles are great in lighter wind, but as it builds, pull it on to smooth them out.
  • Pinch – In flat water when overpowered, it is okay to pinch.

Jib Trim

A great starting point is to trim the jib leech in until it lines up with a zip tie taped to the middle spreader 10 ½” away from the mast. A lot of people did not have that zip tie, and their jib trim was inconsistent.

In Heavy Wind: If you have to ease the main out to keep the boat flat, ease the jib as well until there is just a hint of backwind in the main.

In Lighter Wind: When underpowered, if the jib leech tell tale near the middle spreader is stalled, you are trimmed too tight. If it is flowing, you may be able to trim tighter.

Mainsail Trim

When overpowered:

  • Vang sheet. Pull hard on the vang, and then let the mainsheet out to keep the boat flat.
  • If you have the North Proctor mainsail, traveler sheet.

When underpowered:

  • Keep the vang floppy loose so you can control the leech tension with the mainsheet.
  • As a starting point, try to keep the top main leech telltale flowing 50% of the time (if it stalls behind the main for a few seconds, then flows straight back for a few seconds, that’s 50%)
  • In flat water, you can have it flow less, say 30%
  • In waves or chop you will want it to flow more, say 75%

Mike’s next stop – the Thistle Midwinters East in St. Pete.

Learn more about North Sails Thistle sails.

Story Contributors

Thistle Midwinters West: Coach Notes headshot
Mike Ingham

One Design Expert —

Mike Ingham has over 25 National and Continental Championships in multiple competitive one-design classes. He has a passion for sharing with others through coaching and writing. He was recently named 2017 Coach of the Year by US Sailing for his...

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