We had a great time (and perfect weather) photographing Thistle Midwinters East here in St. Pete earlier this month. Here are some excerpts from my WaterViews post about the event, and the fleet.

The Thistle fleet is very competitive yet extremely family-centric. Not just parent and child, we’re talking entire extended families. Last week a competitor explained to me proudly that he’s on his second Thistle. He had sold his first boat to his brother-in-law. Oh, and he had bought that boat from his father. That’s how it goes.

The Thistle fleet is also incredibly dedicated to the Thistle “brand.” On the last day of Midwinters East, somebody from the class (@Thistlesailing) tweeted “Someone got a Thistle tattoo last night”. I figured some of the competitors had hit the St. Petersburg bars too hard the night before, and somebody had gotten carried away and gotten a Thistle tattoo. As if they were the first, or the only. But at the awards ceremony, one of the class officers called out: “Stand up if you got a Thistle tattoo last night.” Two people stood up and were applauded by their peers. I wanted to ask: “How many of you have Thistle tattoos?” Now I was starting to think it could be the majority. By comparison, I doubt there’s a single sailor out there with a Melges tattoo. The Thistle sailors have a lot of spirit.

See the 2012 Thistle Midwinters East photos here.