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Cornish Crabber History
The first Cornish Crabbers were built by Westerly Boats way back in 1973. It was entirely reasonable then to make boats using marine ply. Therefore all the first yachts were built in wood. Westerly Boat history must not be confused with the other great British boatbuilding company, Westerly Marine Construction, builders of such yachts as the Centaur, Conway and Berwick based in Waterlooville, Hampshire. However, Westerly Boats were Dinghy Specialists. They produced Wayfarers, Scorpions and Ospreys, with a base in Cornwall. It is said that the Rock company’s entry into the market overlapped that of Westerly Marine and did cause unrest in Waterlooville and so the introduction of a new trading name Cornish Crabbers Ltd in 1977. History will record it could be described as a result of pressure from that direction.
The Crabber history began over 40 years ago at the London Boat Show Earls Court. In January 1975, Westerly Boats exhibited for the first time. The Cornish Crabber was also shown for the first time and was an immediate success. This exhibition would take them in an entirely new yacht building direction. Roger Dongray first designed the Cornish Crabber as a 22ft (6.7m) gaff-rigged cutter. Roger wanted to build a Crabber for himself using plywood. However, Peter Keeling, of Westerly Boats who had raced Lasers against Roger, thought it should be two feet longer than the original drawing and that his firm should build it. This eventually led to four 24ft (7.3m) plywood boats. After this, a hull mould was made, and construction switched to GRP. Cornish Crabbers were received at London Earls Court Boat show with mixed emotion as even to this day. The Cornish Crabber is not for everyone. Some described her as a cult reproduction sailing craft relying on old boats' history.
Cornish Crabbers are probably in history, born from a vision of small yachts that were once common in and around the UK coastal waters. Reasonably subtle differences set them apart from that early conception; however, they are intended to replicate a pleasure found in the beauty of a small, simple, sturdy sailing yacht. News articles later reported that 40 of these exceptional little boats had been sold (an admission of underestimating this small but pretty yacht). A Cornish Crabber is what it is. She is a design with limitations, and those are clear to see. The Crabber does not pretend to be anything she is not.
In 1978 Roger Dongray produced yet another design in the range. This was a 19ft (5.8m) gaff sloop. Once again, intending to build one in wood for himself, he finally achieved his wish and did just that. He had some help with the build from a boat builder called Mike Hughes, who then built six more for other customers. Cornish Crabbers Ltd initially showed no interest in this 19 footer until Keeling saw all seven yachts sailing on the Estuary. He then asked Roger to take him for a sail in one with fellow director Ken Robertson. They were so impressed with the little boat that they decided to build them.
From this day, the GRP Shrimper was born. It went on to become one of the most useful craft ever produced by the Crabber company. For Cornish Crabbers, history will show it is fair to say "it has certainly not always been plain sailing". As the wind of fortune blows, the economic climate has affected this company in much the same way as it has changed most others in the marine industry. However, The UK lost one of its greatest treasures when Westerly Yachts went out of business. Most would blame the value of sterling and the competitive French market. Whatever the reasons that happened, it just did. Perhaps this simple little design is unique enough to last another 40 years and continue giving immense pleasure to those of us who love to tinker around in pretty small yachts.
Crabber History Researched and created by Network Yacht Brokers Barcelona in 2018
Cornish Crabber News
2017 Boat Show News
As usual Cornish Crabbers will be on dislpay at (SIBS) (Southampton International Boat Show). This year they will have a four boat lineup that will include the Shrimper 19, Shrimper 21, Crabber 26 and the all-new Crabber 24 mkV. The first Cornish Crabber 24 MkV is now ready to go, just in time for SIBS. The factory team have all done an outstanding job to get her finished in time for the Show The Mk1 Cornish Crabber 24 is the most iconic of the range still in from production the from the early 80’s. Built initially from plywood but eventually converted a GRP construction she is a magnificent family cruising yacht. She has a simple interior layout, and a great cockpit are Cornish Crabbers are still made in Cornwall by a skilled and dedicated team to a high specification. Cornish Crabber launched the Mark V version of this popular family cruiser in time for the Southampton Boat Show. The fact that they are on version V demonstrates that this is a company continually improving and updating a well-loved design. The Cornish Crabber 24 MK 1 was the most iconic design of the range from the early 1980’s. The idea behind the Cornish Crabber 24 was to offer excellent family cruising with a simple interior layout and good sized cockpit. The earlier models had a lifting keel but in the early 90’s Cornish Crabbers moved to a deeper fixed draft and long keel characteristic