Photo of the Month: Thistle Nationals

Photographer Tina L. Deptula captured a classic example of a chaotic pinwheel at a mark with her photo from the 109-boat Thistle Nationals in Sandusky, Ohio.

Sailing World

Thistle Nationals

Thistle Nationals in Sandusky, OhioTina L. Deptula

**Tina L. Deptula's photo of a chaotic mark rounding at the 109-boat Thistle Nationals **in Sandusky, Ohio, caught our eye this month by well-illustrating a pinwheel in a big fleet. Which boat(s) made it out of the mark best?

Tell us about this photo.
This photo was a mark rounding with the fleet bearing away on the first reach. The wind had lightened some, which allowed them to bunch up pretty tight. I had the great pleasure of being on a boat with Denny Dieball, who chaperoned me around the course for the week. He had the ability to put me in great spots without affecting the racing. Yes, there was a lot of yelling but in a Thistle regatta, it is almost required.

What's the vibe like at a Thistle regatta?
It is the most amazing class. At the top end of the fleet you have some of the best sailors in the country, and at the lower end of the fleet you have some of the most hardworking and competitive sailors in the country. In the parking lots, at any given minute, you could not tell who was who. The best help the worst, and everyone mingles and socializes together.

At the nationals this year, we had something like 60 percent of the boats with two or more family members on board. They had 11 boats in women’s nationals and 11 in junior’s nationals. It’s a very healthy class that is dotting all the right I’s and crossing all the right T’s. It’s a great family environment. One of the women skippers/racers is 30-something years old and has been to 30-some Thistle Nationals. How can you not have fun at a regatta with a class that thinks the “I” flag is their class burgee?

What are the challenges of taking photos at a regatta with 100 one-designs?
The biggest challenge is that they split the fleet. So there are two races going on at once. With the Thistle fleet being as competitive as they are, both fleets are putting up top-notch racing. So being where the best action is, you know you are missing other great photo opportunities somewhere else on the course.

Another challenge, and this goes for any regatta but becomes more amplified at one with 100 boats, is respecting that the racing comes first. Denny was great at putting me in perfect locations without affecting the wind or the water for the competitors.

Another challenge is spending some very late nights after some great Thistle parties downloading a ton of photos to free up memory for what you know is going to be an equally exciting next day.

And on the flip side of that ...__
The most obvious upside to a 100-boat Thistle regatta is being able to watch awesome racing from some of the best seats in the house. Everywhere you look there is something exciting going on, and when the wind picks up, you can't click the shutter fast enough.

How did you get involved in the Thistle class?
My principle hobby has been photography for many years. My husband and I have always been very avid outdoors people--hiking, backpacking, kayaking, and sailing. So, they naturally were the areas I spent the most of my free time photographing. It was a natural progression; when we bought hull 16 and started racing in the Thistle class, I should take the opportunity to start photographing the regattas.

Tell me about the sailing you do.__
I have been sailing for 25 years, everything form a 14-foot Banshee (I started out on) to a Hans Christian 43 that we live part-time on in the Sassafras River. Racing is exciting to watch, but I prefer to let the yelling happen on the other boats!

How did you get into photography?

My career is IT at a local hospital, and photography has always been my great escape. Being avid outdoorspeople, it started as a way of bringing our outdoor adventures and the amazing sights back to friends and family, but slowly the love of the art itself crept in. My mother-in-law says it because I’m a Taurus who’s born in May.

I spent this last weekend driving from state park to state park looking for butterflies. None were to be found until arriving home I realized they all were in my neighbor's bush in her backyard.