A great class association

The National Scorpion Class Association


The National Scorpion Association organises racing events and events to promote the class every year. The Silver Scorpion Travellers' series of Open Meetings sponsored by CraftInsure are spread over the season and over the country. The annual highlight is the National Championships, which were hosted in 2023 by Eastbourne Sovereign Sailing Club in Sussex. The 2024 Championships is at Castle Cove SC in Weymouth.

Hi all Sailors

Whatever you sail and wherever you are  I'm sure many of you will  have experienced the adrenaline rush of a Scorp in a f5 on a 3 sail reach or admired the timeless beauty of her lines. 

Thank you for taking the time to view our website, and welcome.

Sailing as a sport has many perceived barriers to entry that are well understood. Additional pressures have been created by virtue of the sheer number of different dinghy classes and of course Covid-19. I'm proud to say that the class finds itself in an enviable position due to the incredible support of the wider Scorpion community. 

The core DNA of  the Scorpion Class is one of fun and friendly keen racing wrapped around an incredible boat built by the finest builders in the UK.  By investing in a Scorpion owners can be confident that the strict one design rules ensure  the competitive life of a boat is over 25 years!  In fact at the 2021 National Championships a wooden 30 year old boat finished in the top 10!

Long time friends of the class are returning , new boats are being built, National Championship attendance for the 2nd year running  will be over 70, and the Class has developed significant financial strength.

In the last 3 years:

- There has been  £150,000 spent on new boats!

- 2nd hand boat sales are the life blood of new members . Over 40 sales represents in excess of  £100,000 invested in boats.

- With additional investment in sails in excess of £60,000 invested 

The total investment in the Scorpion Class over those 3 years could be as much as £320k.

By taking a partnership approach with host clubs, the Nationals venues and Silver Scorpion fixtures are confirmed for the next five years. The Class has the appropriate structures and leadership resource to be able to view the future with real optimism. 

For those of you that already have a Scorpion, you actually know all this already! 

But for those of you reading this that haven't - get one and join the fun!

Personally it's an honour to serve this great class and I'm sure I speak for everyone in the class,  we all look forward to welcoming you into the fleet whether you are an old friend or a new one to be. 

Best as always


Chris Yates
National Scorpion Class Association

Recent Annual General Meetings

2021 - Penzance

Minutes here, Chairman's Report here & Treasurer's Report here

2020 - by zoom

Minutes here, Chairman's Report here & Treasurer's Report here

2019 - Llandudno

Minutes here, Chairman's Report here & Treasurer's Report here

2018 - Tenby

Minutes here, Chairman's Report here & Treasurer's Report here

2017 - Castle Cove

Minutes here, Chairman's Report here & Treasurer's Report here

2016 - Looe

The Committee & its responsibilities

The National Scorpion Class Association is run by its committee, appointed by the members in Annual General Meeting, all people for whom the class and its future is important. Members of the committee are all active Scorpion sailors who know the class very well. The extracts from committee member's Nationals results start with their first Championship, so if they have done many that extract will not display their more recent results. You can find their full results in the Class Archive


John Mursell

As President John has a special role providing some continuity between the class 20 & 30 years ago and the modern class today.

John’s father introduced the Scorpion to Castle Cove in 1967, having acquired 506 ‘Lady Jane’, the first Westerly Scorpion built without a stern tank. Before long there were nearly 30 Scorpions at the Cove, and club members, including John’s parents (with kids in tow), were enthusiastic travellers on the Open circuit and to the Nationals.

John took part in his first Nationals in 1974, crewing for his Dad in ‘Lady Jane’. “160 boats straight off the beach at Saundersfoot. I was hooked.” Also taking part in their first Scorpion Nationals in 1974 were class stalwarts Steve Walker and Jerry Hannabuss.

He took Lady Jane to North Berwick in 1976 for his first Nationals as a helm, teaming up with his school chum, Adam Bowers. “I think we performed better off the water than on it. Just wasn’t used to those Scottish Malt Whisky chasers. Nothing changes.”

John bought his first Scorpion in 1977, a rare Peter Johns boat, 924 ‘Shere Khant’. Since then he has owned 1765 ‘Philanderer’, built by Adam Bowers while at South East Boatbuilders; 1835 ‘and out came Willie!’ (don’t ask), from High Performance Sailboats (Adam also responsible); 1850 ‘Cream Cracker’, the first Scorpion Kevin Gosling built for himself whilst at Jon Turner’s; then for 20 years from 1991 he was the proud owner of 1936 ‘Bottyburp the Barbarian’, a distinctive, bright yellow Gosling – a boat voted 4th in Dougal Henshall’s series for Yachts & Yachting to decide the ten most iconic racing dinghies of all time; 2020 ‘Snap Shackle & Plop!’, from the Boatyard at Beer, finished by P&B; and finally he has just acquired the 30 year old Gosling, 1943 ‘Blue Moon’.

He served on the Committee for eight years from 1993 – 2000, the last five as Chairman. All three old salts of that Class of ’74, John, Steve and Jerry went on to serve as Class Chairmen, and all three are currently serving on the Committee in various roles - it must have been a good year!

John has competed in around 45 Scorpion National and European Championships, finishing first or second in over half of them. Always an enthusiastic participant in the après sailing scene, even today few of the most talented sailors at the front of the fleet have the natural pace to beat him to the bar for the first beer after a day on the water.


Chris Yates

Chris took over as Chairman several years ago and both the Association and the Class have strengthened under his leadership. He has sailed Scorpions for many years first entering the Nationals at Tenby in 1981. He teamed up with Dave Barker at Castle Cove in 2002 sailing his then new boat 1959 Princess Tiger Lily & the Lardy Boys and they have been together ever since. In 2021 he launched his latest new boat 2048 Liquid Spirit ready for the 60th Anniversary Nationals at Penzance.

In his own words "Gone before me are National Champions and many legends of the class but then why shouldn’t I just let you all into the best kept secret. But then you already know! We all sail the best two-person hiking performance dinghy, fact, with quite frankly the best set of friends anyone could ask for …. you lot! I found out this secret way back in 1981 when a certain Tony Wetherall in his Tenby National Champions speech declared the same sentiments and I’ve been hooked ever since!

A quote from Albert Einstein is not out of place here: “A ship is always safe at the shore – but that is not what it is built for” (and it rhymes too). There’s not much else for me to say but to enjoy the forthcoming season and see you on the water.


Steve Walker

As Class Secretary Steve is responsible for ensuring the Association runs as efficiently as his Scorpion 2044 Talllah. Like several others of the current senior generation of active senior Scorpion sailors (including the Association's President and Technical Advisor) Steve cut his teeth at the Saunderfoot Nationals in 1974 sailing 345, returning in 1981 at Tenby to start working his way up the fleet. From 1991 onwards he has has a pretty consistent string of good results, often in single figures coming 2nd at Tenby with Andy Service in 2003.

Steve has been inextricably linked to the Scorpion class since his father bought 781 back in the day. Steve sails the gorgeous Duffin/Paintcraft-built wooden Scorpion 2044 ‘Tallulah’ with Jerry Hannabuss at Pennine Sailing Club and around the circuit. He has previously owned Scorpions 1585, 1889, 1944, 1956 and 1970, the latter ‘Custard Tart’ being a not dissimilar colour (i.e. yellow) as the new ‘Tallulah’.

Steve now sails with Jerry Hannabuss and they continue to get good results, generally in single figures.

Sat in Staunton Harold club house one Sunday morning, with Chris Yates, Dave Barker and Jerry ‘The Guru’ Hannabuss, it dawned on us that we have been competing at Scorpion events for the past 35 (maybe plus 160 aggregate) years together….. great boat, great fun and great mates!


Russell Wheeler

A warm welcome to Russell as our new Association Treasurer. Russell is a new convert to the Scorpion class and has quickly got involved with keeping the association in good financial shape.

He sails Scorpion 1988 with Lee Marriott and is based at Isle of Sheppey (IOS) Sailing Club on the Thames Estuary. IOS hosts the annual Round the Island race and also lays claim to the famous ‘Sheppey Raffle’ which brought hilarity to the Scorpion Nationals at Llandudno.


Dave Elston

Dave started sailing Scorpions crewing for his dad Dick Elston in 1982 and has helmed his own boat since 1986. He has been sailing 1981 Highway Star since 2001 at Pwllheli with 8th in 2005 at Looe.

He carries the onerous job of organising the Nationals each year since 2019. Having taken over the reins from Linda Wolfenden he aims to get the class competing at the best Nationals venues possible for the next few years. The Scorpion Nationals are something that distinguishes the class from many others. Big entries and a full week's racing has always been the formula and this is proving very successful today.

Sailing at Castle Cove SC in Portland Harbour Dave appreciates what makes a great venue, which is probably why the class like going back to Weymouth so much!

Debbie Forbes


Jo Mahy

The Association Membership are the Association and so Jo's task of ensuring that all active Scorpion sailors maintain their membership is a key task in which she is having every success.

Jo has returned to the committee after a spell restoring wooden Scorpions, dabbling with other boats (including an Osprey!) and trips to scenic Scotland. At last count we believe that there are three racing Scorpions with a ‘purple’ colour theme; 2015 ‘Touching the Void’, 1907 ‘Ethel’ (Jo’s first Scorpion) and 1758 ‘Maria’. Jo tells us that ‘Maria’ was a complete rescue/ renovation job from scratch and now has a raking rig system – impressive!

She has been sailing Scorpions at Nationals level since 2009 and has consistently sailed 2015 Touching the Void since 2014.

Jo sails at Sutton Bingham Sailing Club on their reservoir near Yeovil and also gets on the surf at Castle Cove Sailing Club, Weymouth.

Having learned to sail a Mirror dinghy on the sea in Guernsey many years ago we suspect that sea sailing is in her blood!


John Tailby & Chris Martin

John first started sailing scorpions in 2017 after being introduced to the class at Notts County by the Willars clan and has been crewing for Chloe in 2002 ever since.

His first nationals was Tenby 2018 where he helmed 1797, the results were poor but the seed of enthusiasm for the class was sewn and he’s attended every nationals since, with good friends and close racing throughout the fleet being a major draw to keep coming back – it feels like a holiday not just serious sailing!

After this he switched to crewing; sailing 2002 with Chloe in 2019, 2011 with Malcolm James in 2021 and has crewed for Chris Martin in 1969 in all subsequent nationals.

John and Chris first teamed up in a merlin in 2021 (Chris being a lifelong merlin sailor), but after needing a helm for the 2022 Looe nationals John talked Chris into getting a scorpion and 1969 ‘Water Please’ was purchased as the weapon of choice – they have sailed this boat since with steadily improving results including a podium at the 2023 inlands.

With Chris being a boat repairer by trade and John being a self-proclaimed rigging nerd the boat has undergone heavy modification – with the boom being the only original part on the boat! Chris is based in Birmingham and sails from Midland SC and Bartley SC where he also sails a merlin rocket and a solo.

John sails at Notts County – where he is scorpion fleet captain (which makes sorting the dates for the Notts silver scorpion very easy!) but has an RS600 for when he lacks friends, he has previously owned scorpions 1353, 1846 and 1914 but is currently scorpless…

Both saw taking the reins of the silver scorpion as a chance to continue the success of the series as well as taking the class to new, exciting venues. In addition Chris is the merlin national championships coordinator so there’s no shortage of experience when it comes to getting things organized (but this is also a reason that they took on the silver scorpion as a team). Due to experience in other classes they have plenty of new venues for the class to try out, so look out for new venues on upcoming calendars as well as of course returning to the ever popular scorpion strongholds.

There’s also some new ideas for events, with the addition of a youth open meeting for 2024 – to compliment the current youth drive by the class.


Hannah Edge

Public Relations guru Hannah has ensured that the class uses the yachting press and social media effectively.

Hannah is our graphic designer and social media lady. She helps out with the website, making graphics, publicising events, re-touching photos (PhotoShop wizard) and other arty bits for the class. Hannah first stepped into a Scorpion at the 2012 Paignton Nationals, finding that these things were far more fun (more ropes to pull!) than the team racing boats she was used to. She developed a reputation for having good boat chat and snacks, sailing at the pointy end of 1976 for quite a few helms over the years.


Carolynne Hannabuss

The Scorpion National Championships has a tradition of excellent prizes which tradition Carolynne will no doubt continue having taken over this responsibility again in 2021. She has attended most Scorpion Championships since the late 1970s with her husband Jerry and has fulfilled many roles, formal and informal, including doing the prizes when helping out Jerry's mother. So she has a deep knowledge of the class and the history of some of the trophies.


Charlotte Graham


Technical Advisor

Jerry Hannabuss

Jerry brings a vast experience of the Scorpion to the Association and represents the class in technical matters such as negotiating rule changes with the RYA. like fellow senior committee members John Mursell and Steve Walker, Jerry cut his Scorpion Championship teeth at Saundersfoot in 1974. By 1985 he was regularly in single figures and has gone on to have a distinguished career - winning in 1997 at Porthpean & 2002 at Castle Cove crewing for his long time partner Dave Woodhead in 1947 Angel Dust. Even today Jerry is never far from the front of the fleet sailing with Steve Walker.

Longevity, skill and a passion for our class are essential prerequisites for the ‘top job’ so to speak and Jerry has them all in bucket loads – and then some!

Affectionately known as ‘The Guru’ Jerry’s knowledge of the Scorpion past and present is arguably unsurpassed and he is that go-to person we seek out in the dinghy park for a spot of rope splicing, an authoritative view on some obscure aspect of the class rules or trying out something new. Excellent qualities you might say for the technical representative who liaises with our governing body the RYA on all matters concerning the Scorpion class rules.

Jerry began his sailing career during the 1960s on a small reservoir near Macclesfield, Cheshire. In the early 1970s he moved to Elton Sailing Club with its then large, competitive fleet featuring Carol and John Haines and the Curran twins, Alan and Brian, amongst other class legends. His first nationals were in 1974 at Saundersfoot sailing with his brother Julian in Scorpion 605 and he often jokes on how the sheer size of the fleets back then (typically 80-100+ boats) made it easier to count their position from the back rather than the front (which incidentally is never the case these days)! The brother’s next boat was Scorpion 1705 built from a flat-pack kit supplied by famous builder Trevor Stewart in Northern Island. Graduating through the fleet this boat was followed in 1980 by the (at that time) radical Jon Turner built Scorpion 1812 ‘New Wave’; the first in the series of Turner Scorpions with raking rig and other innovations which would rise to effectively dominate the class for the next 15 years.

The early 1990s saw a change of sailing partner and sailing club for Jerry following Julian’s decision to move abroad. Teamed with Dave Woodhead in Scorpion 1947 ‘Angel Dust’ at Elton Sailing Club the pair quickly emerged as a force to be reckoned with, enjoying success at both local and national events. This is something of an understatement from Jerry as to be precise the partnership notched up Top 3 Nationals finishes on eight separate occasions during the period 1994 through 2002, including being crowned National Champions at Porthpean in 1997 and again at Castle Cove in 2002.

Jerry currently sails with helm Steve Walker at Pennine Sailing Club, a partnership which started in 2007 and regularly sees them gaining Top 10 finishes at the Nationals; most recently in the stunning new Duffin wooden Scorpion 2044 ‘Tallulah’ and before that in Scorpion 2033 ‘Legal High’.

To quote Jerry directly now: “I have always enjoyed crewing Scorpions and although in the late 1980s I had a brief spell of helming, this is what I have always preferred to do, being able to concentrate on boat set up and speed; leaving the easy job of steering to another. I have sailed the class all over the country including Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and all points of the compass in England. The Scorpion is amazing to sail on all waters, from small inland ‘ponds’ to large inland reservoirs and of course sea venues. The addition of the raking rig in the 1980s also made the boat competitive in all wind strengths as well as on all waters.

As I have been involved with the class for some time (!) most people on the circuit know me, and the weekly Nationals is still an annual family holiday. I have had several positions on the Scorpion Committee over the years, and hopefully my knowledge of the class and its development will stand me in good stead as Technical Representative to help ensure its continued success”.


Nick Lightbody

Sailing his first Nationals at Hythe in 1975, Nick won a race at the 1977 Nationals in Plymouth and came 2nd crewing for Phil Morrison in 1978 at Hythe. Nick returned to his roots in Scorpions in 2019 and spent part of Covid helping to build the class historic archive. He designed and built this website.

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Extract from Mark Jardine’s interview with Tom Gillard re his (together variously with Rachel Gray & Andy Thompson) remarkable success in multi-classes this year …

"A good time off the water is just as important as the sailing, so I asked Tom which class, in his opinion, has the best social activities:

I would say the Scorpion. It's a chilled-out vibe, a nice bunch of people, with newcomers to the fleet alongside old hands, and everybody's very open about what they do to make the boat go fast. It's a real community. The class is going from strength to strength; whether you've got a wooden boat or a fibreglass boat, there's help everywhere, and no-one feels at a disadvantage."

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