Despite her enormous success over the last three decades, the Shrimper didn't start life as a commercial project - Roger Dongray designed her in 1978 as a plywood one-off for his own use. It wasn't long before local carpenter and builder Mike Hughes (Sheerwater No 6) looked in on the building, liked what he saw and offered to help finish the first boat.
Potential buyers started queuing up as soon as this pretty little gaffer was launched so Roger granted Mike a licence to build ten boats in ply. Three were sailing before Cornish Crabbers decided she'd slot into their range between the 16ft Coble and Crabber Mk1 ( a 24' 'big sister' of the Shrimper ) , which they were already building in glassfibre. Cornish Crabber's first boat - Shrimper No. 11 - was launched in May 1980.
A small fleet of Shrimpers were soon sailing at Rock and in 1981 John Ashworth (Daisy No 36) formed the ShrimperOwners Association and became the first SOA Nat. Hon Sec. continuing to lead and guide the SOA until 1999. This enthusiastic group did much to promote the splendid cruising and racing attributes of the Shrimper and soon Falmouth week became a regular venue for those local Owners and those wishing to trail their boats and join in with the fun.
John defined the Shrimper's class racing rules which first incorporated the motto "Fast but Fair".
National Shrimper Week was conceived in 1984, and was the first of many to be held in Falmouth in the early years. Soon Shrimper Weeks were being organised by volunteer owners at many different sailing areas of the UK and in latter years, as owners have become more adventurous, in France, Holland and Denmark. Shrimper Week is a primarily a cruise week, but one day is reserved for those owners keen to compete in the 'National Championship' race for the Shrimper Challenge Cup, a trophy donated by John Ashworth in 1981. .
Today Cornish Shrimpers number over 1000 and the Shrimper Owners Association has in excess of 600 members worldwide. The SOA thankfully remains as it was originally conceived, a very relaxed and low key organisation.
The top photo on this page was taken by David Harding, Sailing Scenes.com
Katy (Shrimper Number 1) has recently been refurbished and is afloat and in regular use.
( Click on 'slideshow' once on the Photobucket page for best viewing.)