The Dabchick: Is This The Best Sail Trainer For Groms?


Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm wearing my sailing instructor's hat. The Dabchick is a sailboat (...board...scow) used in South Africa to train youths after outgrowing Optis (Oppis). I think it would make a great trainer and a wonderful way for the groms to learn some boat building skills. How cool is it to sail a boat that you've built.


From Go Sail: "The Dabchick dinghy designed by Jack Koper of Cape Town, was launched in 1956 as a double handed junior class. The idea was a simple flat decked, no cockpit, scow with a planing hull that could be home built from a few sheets of ply.


The Dabchick dinghy has found great popularity with some 4 000 boats having been built since then. Fairly quickly adept juniors found they could handle the two sail configuration single handed, and that has been its niche for most of the class existence. The sail plan is of a genoa, sheeted on a tracked fairlead, and mainsail. A dagger-board sits in an extended case allowing for it to be raked back in a breeze and on a reach.


The broad scow hull gives the boat enormous stability for the ab initio sailor whilst also being exceptionally quick onto the plane. In comparison to similar junior classes of the Mirror and Topper it well out performs both boats on all points of sailing. Like all scows is prefers a slight heel when working to weather. Not drawing much water it is snappy through the tack, and quick off the mark once the genoa is trimmed in. On the reach they are exciting but kind, due to that beam again. It is not unusual to see youngsters going out in conditions over twenty knots to enjoy some screaming reaches. Down wind placing the hull on a slight heel, as on a beat, reduces wetted surface and the Dabchick dinghy scuttles effortlessly along like the wildfowl it is named after.


The restricted class allows for different masts and fitting of control systems that feed onto either side of the deck, which is a great entry point for future performance dinghy sailors. The class has also recently allowed the introduction of Mylar sails as well as the adoption of a loose footed mainsail."

Hat tip to Tweezerman for the idea.