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 Abersoch 2008

Buying Scorpions


New Boats

Buying new is relatively straightforward . . . do you want Wood or Foam Sandwich ? Bags or a Chute ?

At the present time the demand appears to be for wooden hulls. This might be an illusion created by better availability, but wooden boats are almost always at the front in major competition, they do have long competitive lives, and - but only a personal view - a wooden Scorpion is a thing of beauty and something to be cherished, while a plastic one is just a boat. On the other hand, plastic is low maintenance, up to £1000 cheaper than wood, and will still be among the leaders in the right hands - so you pays your money etc. !

For a wooden boat the principal supplier is currently Nigel Potter. Nigel is a prominent Scorpion sailor with an interest in developing the boat as well as selling it. He commissions bare hulls from two builders (James Jarvey, Alastair Duffin), spray finishing them himself through his company PaintCraft, before fitting them out ready to sail. Other builders in wood are fairly uncommon but Kevin Gosling (Gosling Dinghy Craft) has produced super boats in the past and has recently started building them again. And Chris Clapp (ex Rowsell & Morrison) also builds wooden boats.

The only current builder of foam sandwich boats is Pinnel & Bax - using new moulds bought from Chris Turner. Chris built several boats from his moulds since 2000, but sold them when he wound up his company to join Ovington. Chris won the 2006 Nationals in one of his own foam sandwich boats.
(See the separate menu item 'New Boats' for a list of suppliers and contact details)


Buying Second Hand

Where to find them ?

It is almost a complete waste of time waiting for adverts to appear in Yachts & Yachting as hardly any Scorpions are advertised that way. Most boats, and especially newer ones, change hands through word-of-mouth, or via the Association Second-Hand Boat List.

Another source which is still better than Y&Y is the internet, in the shape of various UK sailing sites which host "for sale" notices.

An outside chance is to ring Nigel Potter who occasionally takes boats in part-exchange for his new ones.

It is also possible to place a (free) want-ad in Scorpion News or put your own notice in the second-hand boat section of this website. From time to time different people will be running the Website, the Association boat list, and Scorpion News, - but the Committee "who's who" on the 'Association' menu usually up to date.

What to buy ?

Not everyone has the same ambitions when buying a boat, so the first thing is to decide what you want to achieve in terms of sailing achievement, . . .


Buying Second Hand

♦ . . . hardly anything ?

If you don't sail much (or at all) but love restoring old boats there are a surprising number of suitable cases for treatment in garages, gardens and dinghy parks up and down the land. These can be had for as little as £50-100 or even free. Some may not be worth restoration but can still be a good source of cheap but serviceable spars, fittings and sails - or trolleys/trailers. There are always some examples on the boat list, and there really are a surprising number of people engaged in restoration projects.

Don't buy unless you're confident about taking on the work, - it may be worth contacting others who've done it before to talk it through, and the Association can probably put you in touch with someone who has. If you do go for it, we can provide plans/drawings at a small cost (but not of your particular boat design), and we'd love to hear about it in Scorpion News. But be aware that you will not recoup your time/money in the resale value of the boat, the only reward will be the satisfaction of doing it, sailing it, and writing about it.

♦ . . . just sailing ?

If it's just something to sail occasionally at the club, or for the kids to learn to sail, a boat of almost any age will do provided it's sound - there is no point in paying for a hot racing machine if you don't need it - which means that you would be looking at boats from roughly 1 to 1600.

In this range most serviceable boats (ie. not restoration projects) will be selling for between £200 and £600, but there is little correlation between price and sail number. Prices seem to depend more on the actual condition of hull/spars/sails (or the seller's optimism) than on the age of the boat.

Most hulls were made of wood, but some are all GRP, and some had GRP hulls and wooden decks; and there were (presumably) many home-built boats. Age of the hull is not particularly important, but if you intend to race at all, the weight is: bare hull weight (ie. with all fittings and ropes removed) should be as near 81Kg as possible. With all the bits attached, it should be nearer 85Kg. The measurement certificate (if there is one) will tell you what it weighed new.

♦ . . . club racing ?

Well there's racing and racing; and in my experience a lot of people involved in club racing are just out for a sail with some purpose to it, and a good-natured race around the cans in a reasonably competitive boat, probably in a handicap fleet, - is just the job. This isn't the kind of racing where the crews are straining every sinew to gain that extra boat length, or where only state-of-the-art gear can keep you in contention. So, if this is what you do (and why not ?), you still don't need a "new" boat. There are lots of club-competitive boats in the range 1600 -1850 which will not cost a great deal of money (say between £600 - £2000).

However, it will pay to have a boat from a recognised builder and not a home-built boat. Builders of the period are Westerly, High Performance Sailcraft (HPS), and famously, - Trevor Stewart, and Jon Turner.


Buying Second Hand

These boats will tend not to have raking rigs unless they have been fitted by the owners, but unless you expect to sail in Force 4 and over (and many don't) you probably won't need it. You may find a variety of layouts and fittings, but if they aren't to your liking they can usually be changed without vast expense. So the thing to focus on is the sails - a new suit may cost around £1200 (Main, Jib, Spinnaker) - so try to get a boat with sails which have some life left in them.

♦ . . . keen club racing, Open circuit, Nationals ?

You can do this with an older boat, and we do particularly try to encourage everyone to enter the Nationals - because it isn't just about winning - but in practice most people sailing at this level are in boats from around 1850 onwards. Not that that is "new" - 1900 for example would have been built in the mid 1980's - but Scorpions have long competitive lives.

A big problem here is that the earlier wooden 19xx boats are hard to get because they are in great demand, especially Turners, Goslings, and Rowsell/Morrisons. Usually by the time you see an advert (if there is one) it will be too late. The trick is to put the word about that you are in the market and/or try to learn who might be trading up (or out), - and therefore get to be first in the queue.

Price-wise you should expect to pay from about £2000 up to £6500 but it isn't a linear scale, and it does depend on builder, the boat's reputation, and how well it's been looked after, - as well as age.


Buying Second Hand

Most boats in this range have very similar rigs and fittings, but a couple of points to note (because they aren't easily changed) are the "stuff luff" and the recent experiments with spinnaker bags. Bag boats have a full bow tank and no spinnaker chute - practically impossible to change back, so be sure you can work with this system. The "stuff luff" applies rig tension through the jib luff wire, and separately tensions the jib on the wire - so the jib is specially made to be threaded on the wire before hoisting (conventional wired jibs won't do).

. . . finally, whatever you're looking for

If you're not familiar with Scorpions already, talk to someone who is - especially to check if the asking price is reasonable. Try ringing the boat list person, or one or two Committee members, or just come to an Open and ask the sailors.

We are a friendly class, and most people will be glad to help.