The Starling class yacht was commissioned in the late 1960s. At the time there were no single-handed boats available to teenagers to help bridge the gap between the P class and the more adult classes such as the Finn, OK, and Zephyr classes. Many young sailors were leaving the sport because the step to the adult classes was too great.
Des Townson, the designer of the successful Zephyr, Mistral and Dart yachts of the period was approached to design the boat and he completed this in June 1969. To confirm the simplicity of the construction concept, teenager David Peet built the prototype as his first boat-building project. The Starling was launched at Westhaven, Auckland on Anzac weekend 1970.
Feedback from sailors was largely considered and as a consequence, a slight modification to the hull and a minor construction change were incorporated in the second and final design of the boat. The sail area was increased slightly and the fully battened sail was replaced with the profile currently in use.
Des Townson then gifted the design to the Glendowie Boating Club and club members built six more Starlings. The new Glendowie fleet visited many Auckland yacht clubs and boats were made available for local sailors to trial. A mini building boom followed and by 1973 the class was granted national status by the Yachting Federation of New Zealand