“Talking Sailing” From My Archives. 2,200 Plans Out!

A Dabchick churning it up!
pic supplied by Brian Hallock

By Richard Crockett

I simply cannot let an opportunity slip by when it comes to mentioning the Dabchick as it was on one of these dinghy’s that I learnt to sail on a dam in the KZN Midlands in the late ‘60s.

I have always, and still do today, extol its virtues, as it was certainly one of, or was it ‘THE’ class, that put so many kids on the water?

A breeze to sail in all conditions, nippy and up to the ‘cut ‘n thrust’ of dinghy racing, and most importantly in its early days was a two-person boat. Every time a ‘Dabbie’ went on the water two kids had the taste of sailing and the safety of each other – which is maybe why the numbers grew exponentially as the crew always wanted to be in charge of his, or her, own boat, and often ended up as an owner.

Sadly since the Class Rules were changed early in the ‘70s, we have for decades bred youthful singlehanded sailors! Gone was that camaraderie and feeling of safety the two-up ‘Dabbie’ gave.

In just 10 years, from 1957 to 1967, 2200 sets of plans were sold – many going internationally as this feature article will tell you.

There are many things I like about this article, although two things shout at me.

The first are the stats given towards the end of the article as to how much money and materials went into the first 1500 South African Dabchicks – a value of at least R7,000.00 in those days – which was a lot of money!

If my memory serves me correctly, a brand new professionally built Dabbie in the late ‘60s cost about R250.00. I remember receiving a quote for new sails from Bruce McCurrach of Elvstrom Sails. The mainsail was R25 and the jib was R15. Colours were extra.

I liked what Jack Koper said in summation, as he really sums up what youth sailing should be about:

“I have no right to claim any honours in having produced this boat. It was selfishly designed for my own son. It just spread and spread rapidly to what it is now. It does give me great satisfaction to see as many a 60 boats on the water occasionally, and I am grateful for having been instrumental in producing this “missing link” in the sailing world. My one wish is to urge everyone to take up this clean, healthy and fine outdoor sport.”

Take a bow Jack Koper – your “missing link” is what lured me into sailing. Thank you.

READ THE ARTICLE HERE: 1967 03 – SA Yachting – pgs 22-23-45

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