- … it combines style, practicality and seaworthiness in a mix that few sports RIBs achieve.
- The overall condition of the boat is very good and it is a testament to Scorpion that this boat can look this good after 16 years …
- It is fair to say these boats are built to exceed the use their owners are likely to give them.
Greg Copp gives us the low-down on this great-value Scorpion RIB and wonders how close he is to purchasing one …
These formidable boats are one of the best heavy-weather sports RIBs built. In 1999, the 8.1m Scorpion RIB set the record for circumnavigating Britain in just 55 hours. With further Scorpion records being clocked up in the following years, this Lymington yard soon became identified with record-setting endurance events.
Closely based on the original 7.5m Scorpion designed by Dave Marsh, the 8.1m Scorpion is an extension of this design and considered by many to be the best RIB in its class. Sharing pretty much the same lines and the same sharp 24-degree transom deadrise as its smaller sibling, it combines style, practicality and seaworthiness in a mix that few sports RIBs achieve. The design has clear sporting lines, with the tubes mildly tapering forward. However, unlike some sports RIBs the Scorpion resists the tendency to overtaper by retaining a good degree of capacity in the forward sponson sections. In addition, the sponsons are raised slightly at the bow, enhancing buoyancy when running into head seas and reducing the possibility of ‘stuffing the nose’. The hull forefoot is predictably sharp and the flare afforded the hull just forward of amidships serves to enhance stability without compromising the boat’s wave-cutting abilities.
Like the entire Scorpion range, this particular boat has a tall offshore console capable of housing a full range of instruments and electronics while providing plenty of weather protection for the helmsman and navigator. It has an unusual double folding seat/leaning post arrangement. Substantially crafted, it is clearly an original and most likely bespoke fitment. When you sit in the seat you realise that the console is 6 inches higher than the console usually fitted to this model. You can see over the bow standing or sitting, but you would not want to replace these seats with anything lower in height. I will say that, although the seats look unconventional, they are comfortable and have foot rails to match – the downside is that they potentially do not offer the security in rough weather that jockey seats do. The best option would be to have the seat backs and bases rebuilt and reshaped to offer lateral security. Alternatively, if you are prepared to pay the price, the ultimate solution is some shock-absorbing Ullman seats.
The overall condition of the boat is very good and it is a testament to Scorpion that this boat can look this good after 16 years, with just a re-upholster and a professional tube clean. As with most Scorpions, you still get a bench seat, which, apart from providing relaxed seating for those not wanting a white-knuckle ride, gives the boat even more storage.
Forward storage is located in the console and under the forward deck via two deck hatches. These two separate compartments often suffer leaky hatch rubber seals – an important issue that is easily sorted but often forgotten. The gelcoat still has the near-new sparkle and the overall hull condition is near perfect, with a fresh coat of antifouling that has never been in the water. Inevitably you get a transom bathing ladder and an auxiliary outboard bracket with a Scorpion. The former is a good idea, but the latter is the product of a bygone age, when people did not feel sufficiently confident in having just one outboard engine – the concept is somewhat redundant now with a modern motor.
The 225hp Optimax engine fitted to this 1999 boat is a 2004 engine. This is no bad thing as some of the first Optimax motors built from 1999 to 2002 suffered a variety of problems, including repeated plug fouling, injector issues and sometimes worse (though most should have been sorted by now). Many people swear by these engines now, judging by the number about. Scorpion had the good sense to fit this boat with a long-range 80-gallon fuel tank, giving this boat the range it is likely to need.
In summary, this particular boat is great value and the cheapest Scorpion that I have come across for a long time. All Scorpions hold their value exceedingly well – in fact, I would be so bold as to say that in the last five years or so the older boats have increased slightly in price. Would I buy it? Well, the answer is I am seriously considering it, though by the time this goes to press my other half may well have pointed out the excess of owning three boats.
Points to Consider
The only real concern with the 8.1m Scorpion will be the engine. The 225hp Optimax outboard engines that were predominantly fitted to this boat in its early production run were the best option then. However, the first generation of this direct-injected 2-stroke engine suffered some problems and most were retrospectively sorted. However, you should thoroughly check its service history and get an engine survey. I will say that I have come across quite a few 15-year-old Optimax engines with 600 to 800 hours on them, so they have proved their worth. Any boat fitted with the ill-fated Evinrude Ficht engine should either be avoided or the cost of a repower be factored in. Boats fitted with Yamaha’s HPDI direct injection 2-stroke engine are also best avoided. Boats fitted with Yamaha, Honda or Suzuki 4-stroke engines as well as Evinrude’s E-TEC direct injection 2-stroke motor are all good news.
The age of a RIB hull is relatively immaterial as long as it has not been abused. Most RIBs spend the bulk of their life on a trailer, and Scorpions do not suffer the attrition of being used as commercial or dive boats. The 1999 Scorpion featured here could easily pass for a five-year-old boat, which is par for the course with this brand. All Scorpions were built with Hypalon tubes and the hull construction is exceedingly tough. It is fair to say these boats are built to exceed the use their owners are likely to give them.
Open boats take their toll on electronics like chartplotters – so consider the condition of these carefully if they were fitted when the boat was new. It may well be worth upgrading anyway, as chartplotters, radios and depth sounders have come a long way in the last decade. Modern chartplotters in particular have become a lot easier to use in strong sunlight.
- Designer: Scorpion RIBs (the design is an extension of the original Dave Marsh 7.5m Scorpion)
- Hull type: Deep-vee
- Current values: £20,000 to £40,000
- Length overall: 27ft (8.1m)
- Beam: 8ft 6in (2.6m)
- Draught: 2ft 0in (0.6m)
- Displacement: 1000kg (dry with 225hp Optimax engine)
- Fuel capacity: 80 gallons
- Cruising range: Depending on engine options – expect 300 miles with a 20% reserve at 30 knots