In the year 1955 the prototype of the Dabchick was designed by Mr Jack Koper of Cape Town. He studied the Sailfish, an American designed 'skimmer', but arrived at the conclusion that she was unsuitable. He then worked on a plan to make a flat bottomed boat out of three sheets of plywood and this became the basis of his thinking and design. Knowing that plywood is not easy to bend or twist the rounded bow was adopted, and so the Dabchick was slowly planned - much of it during sleepless hours in bed.
The first boat was narrower in the beam and had a more rounded bow and a curved transom. This design proved rather a headache for youngsters to make. After a season's sailing where she proved herself, a small jib was added and this improved her performance. The designer went to work on improving the design. There was enough plywood to increase the beam, the bow was widened and a genoa-type jib added. The plans were first published in June 1956.
The growth of the Dabchick was phenomenal and nearly 3 500 plans have been issued to prospective builders. The boats are normally constructed of wood but G.R.P. boats are also available.
The designer handled the class single-handed until the 1st February, 1970, when the South African Yacht Racing Association agreed to the formation of an Association to be known as the Dabchick Association of SA ( DASA. ) to promote the development of the class, the training of its members, and to ensure that the boats comply with the rules of the class as approved by the Council of the South African Yacht Racing Association. A Constitution was drawn up and approved by the members on the 6th January 1971, and the Dabchick was given National Status by the National Authority.
Eric Burner, commonly known as "Father Dabchick" was the first person behind the formation of the National Dabchick Class Association in 1970 and through his efforts it soon became a South African National Class.
The Dabchick has proved herself over the years to be an excellent trainer for the young of both sexes between the ages of seven and eighteen years. The Dabchick can be sailed single-handed or with a crew.
The Dabchick has helped young people to learn how to sail. A number of them have shown top form in senior classes, obtaining the award of Springbok colours.
Since 1985 the Class Secretariat has been administered by the South African Sailing.