The Starling Class yacht is a one-man centreboard yacht that has been used to train most of New Zealand’s teenage yachtsmen over a period of three decades.
Top America’s Cup sailor Russell Coutts is a past NZ Starling champion and his former tactician and later foe, Brad Butterworth also spend a number of years at the top of the class. Former Class national champions include a large number of sailors who later moved onto international sailing success including David Barnes, Peter Evans, Craig Monk, Dan Slater, Simon Cooke, and Peter Burling.
The Starling fits nicely between the Optimist and Laser classes as the preferred intermediate boat in New Zealand.
A number of Starlings are sailing in other parts of the world with sailors coming to New Zealand to compete in National regattas.
The competitive crew weight is 48 – 70 kgs.
In New Zealand the Starling holds the largest national championships after the Optimist with fleet sizes between 100-200.
The boats are fitted with a full set of sail controls which provides an excellent basis for learning the skills of rig tuning. For many of New Zealand’s most successful yachtsmen, the Starling Class was the place they learned the foundations of performance enhancing skills necessary for Americas Cup, Volvo Around the World and Olympic campaigns.
Des Townson designed the Starling as a 9 foot 6 inch (2.9 metre) long by 4-foot (1.21 metre) wide plywood, hard-chine centreboard yacht. The boat structure is simple enough to enable home construction, although demand led to the availability of a fibreglass option in 2000. The original concept was to produce a one design home built boat that could be produced inexpensively and raced without continual outlay for additional rig and sail combinations. Consequently the spars are an aluminium one-design section from a single supplier and the North Sail is also strictly one-design.
The class is currently testing carbon spars for future use.
The Glendowie Boating Club owns the Starling Class design and the club administers the class by a committee within the club. The club would like to see other country’s sailors have access to Starlings and enjoy the benefits three decades of New Zealand yachtsmen and women have received. Ultimately international Starling competition would be of benefit to all sailors. The Glendowie Boating Club is inviting expressions of interest to any person or company who would be interested in building, promoting or sailing fibreglass Starling yachts outside New Zealand.