North Sails NEWS

Story Contributors: Mike Ingham
Images © Chuck Allen


Local Thistle fleet sailors joined Mike Ingham for a clinic and some fun weeknight racing – A solid start to a beautiful week in Newport, RI

Thanks to the new and growing Newport Thistle fleet and IYAC for hosting.  We spent some time in the parking lot getting boats ready then headed on the water to help out while the fleet sailed 3 races.  It could not have been a nicer night with 10-13 knots SW breeze.  There were a couple of themes that came out of the on the water coaching as well as the follow up discussion prompted by Chuck displaying the photos on the big screen at IYAC.

Keep the boat flat.  Really flat.  It’s easy to think you are sailing flat, but really you have a little heel.  As a sanity check, the helm should be really neutral.  It’s almost uncomfortably flat.  It does not “feel” fast, but a flat hull and neutral helm IS fast.

A good example of a reasonably flat boat.

If it’s windy, keep the boat flat by feathering and easing the sails.  The right amount of each is a bit of a “hunt and peck” thing.  But you can feather quite a bit without losing too much speed –especially in flat water.  Either way, you need to be aggressive about each – heeling is slow!

If you get a lull and you are fully hiked, keep hiking and keep it flat with main trim and feathering less.

What you do NOT want to do is stop hiking if you have things you can do to get power back (trim in, bear off). Sure you have to lean in to balance the boat if the lull is big enough, but until then, keep hiking and keep the flat by powering up.

The mast bend on these boats is critical. Since the mast is deck stepped and there are no swept spreaders or lowers, not chocks, and no backstay the bend comes from compression of the mast on the mast step and from vang / mainsheet.

Getting that right is the magic part of tuning a Thistle. When you look at the main, it will likely have overbend wrinkles.  If they go more than halfway back, your mast is too bent. If you can barely see them, you are not bent enough.

You can fix this by experimenting with shims behind (or even in front –but this would be to fix an unusually flexible mast).

A good example of overbend wrinkles going just a bit too far back on the main because they go past the middle of the window.

Heel to windward downwind and get the spin out from behind the main by squaring the pole all the way back and flying the clew about at the forestay.

This is an example of nice heel and trim.

It’s a fun group with the right Monday racing attitude. Thanks to IYAC and the fleet for making it happen!


Get involved with Local Thistle Fleet 169 !

We were lucky to have the tuning session, on the water coaching, and video debrief with Mike and Chuck. These guys know how to make Thistles go fast and they did a great job raising the bar for the whole fleet. NorthU is something I would suggest for every fleet. We call ourselves the fastest growing fleet in North America, so grab a boat and come join us! Ervin Grove, 626


The Monday night clinic with Mike and Chuck was fantastic, and very thorough. From tuning tips and advice on land before, to on the water coaching, to pictures and video afterward is incredibly helpful. In only a few hours on Monday night after work, it made our entire fleet better. – Patrick O’Connor, 1021

Will Bomar handling the bow.

Story Contributors

North U hosts Monday Night Thistle Clinic with Expert Mike Ingham 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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