R-Boat "Pirate"


The R-class racing yacht Pirate is likely the best known and most well-documented boat at CWB, so her history will not be extensively recounted here. Pirate is significant to northwest maritime history for being the best extant example of the R-class, the adoption of which in this region is a very interesting and complex story. She won the National Championship in that class in 1929.

Pirate also embodies the most advanced skills and talents in both yacht design and yacht construction in the Seattle area in the early 20th century. She is a direct descendant of the Sir Tom, an earlier R-class yacht designed by Ted Geary which won the Lipton Cup every year from its inception in 1914 until
1928. The boat was built by the Lake Union Drydock Company, a firm that often worked with Geary. Pirate’s framing and construction were specified to very high standards of material and craftsmanship.

The keel and structural members were made  of solid full-length Douglas  fir timbers with  no scarfs or joints. The hull was double-planked with red cedar inside  and Burma teak outside and the decks and house were built of double-diagonal red cedar with canvas over top on the house and teak on the deck. Pirate was built for Tommy Lee, son of Los Angeles yachtsman Don Lee, as a reward for winning the Pacific Coast Star Championship in 1925.


  • 2009.29.1

  • Builder/Location: Lake Union Dry Dock Company, Se- attle, WA

  • Designer: L.E. “Ted” Geary

  • Date: 1926

  • Length: 40’ 3” Beam: 8’ 6” Draft: 5’ 5”

  • Displacement: 10,900

  • Rig: Marconi 3/4

  • Shape: Bottom, round/Keel/Stern, overhang/Transom, counter

  • Construction: Frame, bent/Carvel

  • Material: cedar, oak, Douglas fir, Burma teak, spruce, bronze

  • Planking: Double planked, 5/8” Burma teak over 5/16” Red cedar

  • Rib dimensions/spacing: 1 3/8” X 1 7/8”; certain frames sawn and doubled 1” X 1 3/4”

Jess Testa