Hull Weight: 41kg
Commissioned by John Peet and designed by Des Townson in 1969. The designer’s brief was for a teenager’s sailing dinghy with easy handling yet good performance, both up and downwind, and could be built by amateurs. At the time there were no designs that sat between the P-Class and the adult dinghies suitable for sailors weighing between 50 and 70kg. Des Townson gifted his design to the Glendowie Boating Club in 1970 and that club has been responsible for the management of the class. The boat proved to be the ideal teenager boat and rapidly spread, becoming a nationally recognised class in 1972.
Unlike his other small boats, Townson designed the Starling with a hard chine (a sharp corner where the sides of the hull meet the bottom) and to be built with a plywood skin over wooden frames. The first prototype was built by John Peet’s teenage son, David. Home builds in plywood are still possible today, or there is the option to purchase a boat professionally built out of fibreglass (Sail One, McKay Boats). The class administration have done an excellent job of specifying the lay-up so that fibreglass and wooden boats basically compete on equal terms. However, there is more variation among the wooden fleet; buyers looking for a really quick wooden boat should do their homework.
The Starling Class has survived the introduction of some competing designs to New Zealand such as the Europe Dinghy, Splash, Open Bic and Byte CII. Partly, this is a numbers game - there are lots of Starling fleets around the country but, mostly, the message is that a Starling is a great all-round boat for those graduating from P-Class or Optimist.
At a local level we have an active fleet. By nature, there is quite a range of sailing skills and ages represented - from sailors pushing the front of the fleet at a national levels to those just finding their racing stripes; from young teenagers to smaller adult sailors. Interestingly, the girls outnumber the boys in the fleet, so it is both battle of the sexes and of the ages out on the HYC sailing courses. The current Club Champion is Annie Oxborrow. I suspect she will be back again this season to defend her crown, especially now that the fleet competes for an impressive new cup, the Nick Oxborrow Cup.