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Re: Lightning vs Thistle
The Thistle requires more vigilance but less strength than the Lightning. Their Portsmouth handicap numbers are very similar but the Thistle manages to achieve the same speed with a significantly smaller sail plan. If you sail in light air the Thistle will perform much better.
The Thistle has a much simpler set of controls: mainsheet, traveler,movable jib sheet cars, outhaul, cunningham, adjustable jib halyard, centerboard, pole lift, and some have barber haulers. The Thistle does not have a backstay, therefore, there is no backstay adjustment. The Lightning has the same controls as the Thistle plus, backstay adjustment, jib cloth, and jib wire but does not.
If you sail in chop the flat sections of the Lightning slaps maddeningly. A couple of hours of that will make you want to take up golf. I don't much credit the notion of the hard chine of the Lightning "digging in"; both boats want to be sailed flat.