If a formula works, why change it? This is an attitude many people have in life, seeing little or no point in destabilising a steady situation.
On the other hand, there are those who cannot leave something alone; even if it is perfectly sound or operating exactly as intended, they see issues that others do not and they feel the need to fettle and tinker until satisfied. Relating to the Scorpion Sting cabin RIB, one could describe this as a classic example of taking a well tried-and-tested formula and, when the timing is right, implementing a raft of improvements from ideas that have been steadily storing up in the builder’s mind; in this case, the mind of Graham Jelley, the creator of Scorpion who, since starting the company back in the 90s, has established the marque as one of the world’s premier brands.
Anyone who knows about RIBs, or follows the exploits of those who establish records at sea, would know that the Scorpion 10m cabin RIB holds a unique position in the offshore record books for its extraordinary exploits. Not only have these production cruisers proved to be supremely well made and finished, but their ability to successfully compete in offshore racing and endurance events is legendary. It is all the more remarkable that these are not even craft specially built for racing and record breaking; these are just production craft that are used on a daily basis for cruising/leisure activities and then put to the test in some of the most gruelling offshore sea conditions during offshore racing and endurance events.
From the outset the David Marsh-designed 10m hull has proved to be an outstanding sea boat and a real performer, giving a superb and vice-free ride in seas in which other RIBs would struggle.
It is worth remembering that these achievements are not by special one-off racers but by standard production RIBs that are used daily by their owners for family cruising.
As has been our experience this year, the day of our test was once again very windy, with steep seas running in the Solent, making these ideal test conditions for such a pedigree craft. But first we wanted to see what changes had been made to this icon of the RIB world.
Sitting on the pontoon in Lymington, at first glance there appears to be little difference between the existing 10m cabin RIB and the Sting, but most of the improvements are beneath the surface. The interior of the cabin has had a makeover and benefits from better-quality upholstery, which gives a warmer appearance and feels better to touch. Although it is not obvious at first glance that there have been changes to the Sting, when one has the older cabin RIB alongside, the improvements to the interior become clear and the new colours/features make the cabin much warmer and more pleasant to sit in. The new refrigerator is considerably deeper and looks better than the old one, and the Flexiteak cabin sole adds a touch of class. The cabin door used to be a roller shutter type but the Sting features a proper tailored-to-fit conventional unit which is far more practical and less likely to jam. There are now power points throughout the craft for plugging in a kettle, microwave and any other useful appliance.
Outside, the obvious changes are to the windows, which now have a tapered one-piece perspex section on either side, making them less likely to loosen/leak over time, whilst they also make the craft look more streamlined. On the older model there used to be a double stainless-steel radar arch situated above the cockpit, but on the Sting this has been replaced by an angled short-radar T-bar-type mast attached to the new, more robust and streamlined windscreen. Evidently this new mast has cut down drag considerably, but this would only seem important for racing, although it really does improve the appearance. The rear seat has been rethought and the foam changed to a lighter, better-quality material, giving better support whilst not absorbing moisture. Perhaps the most significant change has been to the helm seats, which are now the very special and comfortable electrically operated bolster type in place of the fixed bench and bucket type that were on the previous model. We first tried these seats on the Scorpion Pioneer, waxing lyrical about their superb design and comfort, and they really do impart a feeling of security when the going gets tough. All the external covers, including the cockpit canopy, are now produced in ‘WeatherMax’ – a quality material, we are told, that is harder wearing and more resistant to UV than most other materials.
The rest of the craft, including the twin Yanmar 315hp engine set-up, is laid out in typically faultless Scorpion fashion; that is to say, with attention to detail more akin to a Formula One racing team than a RIB builder.
Setting off into the Solent we were immediately aware that everything about the helm station is right. No stretching for the controls or fidgeting to find a comfortable driving position or craning of the neck to read the instruments or navigational equipment; the helm position is perfect! The latest Empire bus electronic system now manages all the electronics, and it is simple to locate a fault anywhere on the craft from the helm position.
Well, we said it was blowing and that the Solent was rough, and what of it! The Sting just did what all Scorpion 10m cabin RIBs do: made light work of everything that was thrown at it with an arrogance that can only come from a superb design and build integrity that is second to none. However, much to our surprise, we did get wet when heading at displacement speed into the big Solent chop; we nosed into a wave which broke over the high bow, ran up the new raked windscreen and dumped straight onto a surprised crew. At speed, no water came aboard and the craft sat very comfortably at rest.
The biggest differences between the Sting and the older 10m cabin RIB are in the construction, and this has been improved by the use of the latest hi-tech GRP materials being utilised, in conjunction with a stronger, yet lighter modified structure.
There is no doubt in this tester’s mind that the Scorpion Sting is one of the RIB world’s icons and could easily be taken round Britain as she stands if an owner desired; ah yes, I forgot to mention that. Two ladies who have never raced a powerboat before finished an amazing 12th overall out of 48 starters in the Round Britain Powerboat Race that took place in June this year, in this very craft. Enough said!