A traditionally styled modern gaffer that incorporates the advantages of up to date boat building techniques and design knowledge. See the video walk-around we did of the boat below.
This new model follows the long running success of the original 19ft Cornish Shrimper, which has consistently proven to be one of the most popular boats of its size. A testament to its popularity is that over 1,100 boats have been built over a period of more than three decades, with many owners keeping their boats for 10 years or more.
The new design is in a very similar style, with a lot of character, and is clearly intended to appeal to existing owners of the 19ft model, as well as to those who like the original design’s attributes but would prefer to see them embodied in a slightly larger craft. The new boat has already proved popular with existing Shrimper owners, with 10 sold off-plan before production started.
The Shrimper 21 offers a higher degree of comfort in significantly improved accommodation, as well as a much larger cockpit that will allow civilised daysailing with a larger number of friends or family on board. Nevertheless, all the key features that made the smaller boat so attractive have been retained, including the shallow draught and a sufficiently light all-up towing weight for the boat to be pulled by many large saloon cars.
Although the overall dimensions appear to only show a modest increase in size – just eight inches (20cm) of beam and two feet (60cm) of hull length – these numbers belie the amount of extra space in the new boat. The beam is carried further aft, there’s more of a plumb bow, and the cockpit has been configured to offer far more useable seating, all of which is on a single level.
There’s also a lot more space below decks, with two settee/quarter berths, a table that doubles as extra galley worktop space and a more separate forecabin with a choice of either a chemical or sea toilet under the head of the berth. There’s generous sitting headroom and the case for the lifting centreboard does not intrude unduly on leg room. Stowage has also been improved throughout the boat, including around the galley.
On deck and performance
One of the key attractions of the Shrimper range is in the sheer simplicity of the boats. For example, the masts are easily stepped using the pivoting bowsprit as a lever and the rigging process has been streamlined over the years. The lifting keel gives a draught of less than 60cm, while the rudder is transom hung with a stainless steel lifting drop plate. A significant advance with the 21 compared to the smaller models is that the rudder incorporates a balance area to reduce loads on the helm.
The boat is set up to be easy to sail – loads in the lines are low and excess cordage has been all but eliminated compared to an old-fashioned gaff rig of 50 years ago. Of course, there are faster boats around these days, but the hull’s long waterline length enables reaching speeds of six knots to be reliably achieved in moderate breezes.
Equipment and options
Every Shrimper is built to order, so everything from the hull colour to the interior layout can be specified to an owner’s requirements. As with the 19ft Shrimper, there’s also a choice of auxiliary power – either 6 or 8 hp outboards that are mounted in a well at the back of the cockpit, or a 9hp Yanmar 1GM diesel inboard. The boat is also available in Cornish Crabbers’ Adventure range, with a taller Bermudan rig in place of the Shrimper’s gaff rig and there’s an option for teak inlays on the cockpit seats.
What it does best
If you’re looking for a boat that stands out from run of the mill designs then this is certainly worth considering. The shallow draught makes it ideal for sailing in areas where there are plenty of options for exploring in sheltered waters, but the boat will also happily take you into open water in good weather.
While you might not want to tow the Shrimper 21 to the coast every time you go sailing, it can be kept on an inexpensive mooring and then taken further afield for longer cruises. The Baltic, Friesian Islands, Western Scotland and even the South of France are all possibilities that could potentially be reached in a single day of driving.
For most potential owners the biggest compromises will revolve around the lack of standing headroom, or a genuinely separate toilet compartment. However, these are impossible to achieve in such a small trailer sailer without making massive compromises in both aesthetics and sailing qualities. The quoted towing weight of 1,800kg is 20 per cent higher than that for the original 19ft Shrimper, which will reduce the number of medium size cars that can tow the boat.
Other models in the range
Cornish Crabbers builds a wide range of traditionally styled boats that benefit from modern design knowledge. The smallest is a 10ft sailing tender, the largest a 35ft performance cruiser with classic styling, while the flagship is a 30ft Pilot Cutter. (See also our Cornish Crabber 26 review.) The Shrimper line up encompasses three models, as well as the Shrimper 19 there’s a ballasted 17ft model with camping style accommodation for two people. There’s also a range of 17-22ft motor launches that are based on the hulls of the equivalent sailing designs.
A number of companies offer a modern take on traditionally styled boats. Swallow Yachts’ BayCruiser 23, for instance, is a slightly larger boat with classic looks and water ballast to keep the towing weight down. The 20ft Norfolk Gypsy is also worth considering, although the accommodation below deck is optimised for two people.
Cornish Shrimper 21 review: specifications
Length over deck: 6.40m
Draught: 0.57m (keel up)
Draught: 1.35m (keel down)
Sail area: 23.6sq m
Approximate towing weight: 1800kg
RCD Category: C