Two dinghy classics from Ian Proctor’s drawing board – the Kestrel and the Osprey

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Ian Proctor’s Kestrel dinghy

Kestrel, the UK’s first all-glass reinforced plastic sailing dinghy


The 15ft 6in Kestrel was the UK’s first all-GRP sailing dinghy. The first plastic Kestrel appeared at the London Boat Show in 1956 and created a lot of favourable comment in the plastics magazines – but rather less in the yachting press, which could not quite trust the new material. However, when builders began to apply strict quality control, the boat became more popular.

Even today, the Kestrel is quite a quick boat – for racing purposes its Portsmouth Yardstick is a healthy 1038 – but Proctor designed her to be as suitable for cruising as for racing. As he pointed out, although the boat did not look like a racer at first glance, a number of subtle refinements including a sloping stem profile, deep hull, firm bilges and a long run enabled it to sail fast even in rough water.

The boat is still sailed and raced, and there is a Kestrel Class Association.

Ian Proctor Osprey dinghy

Ian Proctor Ospreys

Ospreys planing with their crews on trapezes


Designed in 1953 as a contender for the Olympics, in trials the 17ft 5in Osprey was pipped at the post by the Flying Dutchman.

Proctor’s objective was to produce a cheap, high performance trapeze dinghy for two or three people when racing and, capable of carrying four when not. Amateur boatbuilding also had to be possible, and the early boats were built in timber, although they were soon available in GRP.

By using a system of two wide plywood panels for the substantially flat areas on the bottom and topsides of the hull and two narrow planks at the bilge, a hull of rounded section minimised wetted surface area and improved performance and handling characteristics in rough water. It is often regarded as one of Proctor’s finest boats, and has a Portsmouth Yardstick of 940.

Like the Kestrel, the Osprey is still sailed and raced, and there is an Osprey Class Association.

Don’t miss the Ian Proctor exhibition at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall. Thanks to Andy Wyke of the museum for information and photos used in this post.

For more on Proctor, follow this link:

One thought on “Two dinghy classics from Ian Proctor’s drawing board – the Kestrel and the Osprey”

  1. My 30 yr old Kestrel is falling apart. I need a newer one, preferably a MK4.

    We sail at least twice a week here in Cyprus, for a wonderful nine plus months of the year ! Racing obviously.

    If anyone can help, my email address is

    I'm in the UK for two weeks in September to view or buy at the Southampton boat show.

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