THE PIRATE MODEL YACHT AND THE "LITTLE PIRATES" PROGRAM
In 1927, Ted Geary designed a 39' model yacht based on the lines of his very successful R-class sloop Pirate. The object was to get schoolboys interested in woodworking and sailing. The program was sponsored by two Hearst newspapers, The Los Angeles Evening Herald and the Seattle Post Intelligencer. In 1927, regattas for the graceful little craft were organized in both cities. In 1929, 300 Pirate models competed in a regatta in Los Angeles' Westlake Park. Pirate's skipper Matt Walsh officiated at the California event while her designer, Geary, oversaw the racing at Seattle's Green Lake.
While negotiating the purchase of Pirate, the syndicate that brought her to Seattle found the original plans for the model racer. Now that Pirate belongs to the Center for Wooden Boats (CWB), the model boat program has been revived in Seattle as a joint venture between CWB and Alternative School No. 1 (AS1). Principal Ron Snyder has committed to building the little craft as an annual activity at the school. The programme is sponsored through a generous donation from the Enersen Foundation.
The program includes an annual regatta held in early June where the students compete in a series of races for the coveted Pirate Cup, a perpetual trophy donated by Seattle boatbuilder Norman Blanchard. The first regatta was run on June 8, 2000, nine boats competed in a series of seven races. The series winner, and winner of the 2000 Pirate Cup, was Nevin Root and his boat the Arctic Fox. Following the regatta, Nevin and classmates Djaerick Rudolph-Peck and Sarah Galvin were named best model-makers and awarded internships to work on fleet preservation at CWB during the following summer. The internships were sponsored by a generous grant from the Women's Group at Seattle Yacht Club. The yearly internships have continued in susequent years.
Ted Geary started designing pond racers for school kids in 1921. He spent hundreds of hours teaching youngsters about sailing, design and boat building. He put in considerable time instructing Junior sailors at Seattle Y. C. in his popular Flattie (later Geary 18) Class dinghies.
To be able to revive this 70-year-old program offers a truly historic opportunity to pay homage to the generous nature of this design genius. To have the full-size vessel on which the model design is based enables youths to connect with something of much larger scale and adds a truly unique dimension to the program.
A manual is being produced as a guide to the building of these sailing models. Once complete, the manual will be available to any teacher planning to build these fine craft with their students. The Pirate Cup regattas will be open to any middle or high school student who has built his/her own boat.
See Merchandise for more about Geary model boat plans.