The 17 foot Pirate cruising boat was designed by Ian Proctor, famous for his classic dinghies the Wayfarer, Osprey, Gull, Wanderer, Topper, Bosun, Kestrel and Tempest, and the Nimrod trailer-sailer.
The Pirate was one of Ian Proctor’s two designs for Rydgeway Marine, the other being the 19 foot Prelude. The Pirate was launched commercially in the early 1970s with optional fin keel or swinging drop keel.
The Express Pirate was a later development built by Ryplas with a pair of encapsulated bilge keels and a substantial hardwood rudder, the boat being designed to take the ground in drying moorings. The Express Pirate was offered in kit form for home completion in 1978. Some improvements over the original design included a king post to support the downwards thrust of the mast, and separate deck anchors for the cap and lower shrouds. However, the additional ballast needed by shallower keels, and the drag of two keels instead of one, did result in a slight loss of speed compared with the original versions.
Judging from sail registration numbers that have been observed in surviving examples of Pirate and Express Pirate, about 400 boats were produced in total over an approximate 10 year period, the majority being the Express version.
Many boats are still in use today.