1949 - Thistle Beats Chesapeake 20s

Posted in: 1940s
By Ted Weihe
Aug 5, 2009 - 1:30:01 PM


VOL. 3 Mo. 7 84 Alpine Drive. Rochester 10. N.Y. March 1949




On July 1, 1948 there were only three Thistles in the entire Chesapeake Bay Area. When they raced, they were in the handicap class, and were somewhat of a problem as it was quite a problem to give them a sufficient handicap.


Last August, Sandy Douglass was visiting in the area at the time of Oxford Regatta. Someone suggested he race around the course with the Chesapeake 20's - no one thought he could stay with them. The Chesapeake 20 is a round bottom centerboard with about 250 square feet of sail (20 ft. long of course) - and was considered the fastest small sailboat in this area. It was blowing about 18 knots and the 20's were carrying four man crews (one man needed to bail). Mrs Douglas and Mrs. Wiley, wife of his host crewed for Sandy.  He finished nearly five minutes ahead of the nearest 20 and there wasn't a sponge full of water on board. The next day Sandy was challenged by one of the foremost Star Skippers in the area (now a Thistle Skipper) and the performance was repeated in a very light breeze over a much longer course.


At present (1949) there are 23 Thistles ready to go in the spring and a long series of races have been arranged in nearly every Bay Club in which Thistle will race Thistle Only.  The new Thistle Skippers are all well known racing skippers, for the most part they have been recruited from Chesapeake 20s and Star classes.


(Editor’s note, one of those Chesapeake 20 skippers to shift to Thistles was Billy Heintz, founder of the West River Sailing Club and an early Chesapeake 20 racer.)