Dick Elston: A Tribute

I am very sorry to have to report that Richard (Dick) Elston, long time Scorpion sailor, and past President of the Association has crossed the bar.

Dick started sailing Scorpions around 1980, with his first Nationals at Tenby in 1981, ably crewed by his son, Dave, who is now our Nationals Coordinator extraordinaire.  Dick was the proud owner of five Scorpions during his sailing career: 1595 Getafix, 1760 Smoke on the Water – famous for the wooden hoop designed and made by Dick, 1857 Hooray Henry – the Turner boat used as a mould for some of the early fiberglass boats promoted by Steve Walker, 1891 Fire in the Sky, and the evergreen 127 Evil Edna.

Dick was an ocean going seafarer in his younger days, and a Master Mariner, spending considerable time in the Gulf and Far East.  He enjoyed recounting the epic tale of how he and his wife, Mary, drove from Bombay back to the UK at the end of his appointment in the region.  Thereafter he was involved in cargo handling, port management and latterly underwater pipelines and the like.

His technical nous led to an unrivalled enthusiasm for applying his engineering and aerodynamic expertise to find innovative solutions to the design of dinghy fixtures and fittings.  Of particular note was his approach to rudder design, where he was very keen on the Spitfire wing shape.  One light weight version made of balsa wood had so much positive buoyancy that Dick became well known for his favourite sailing manoeuvre – backwards rolling over the transom while firmly holding onto the tiller as the rudder popped off.

Dick was Commodore at Hythe & Saltwood Sailing Club when it was home to a hotbed of Scorpion sailors, whilst Mary ran all the catering.  Once his dinghy racing days were done, he and Mary loved touring around Europe in various campervans and caravans, and while at home in Hythe they were both avid supporters and fund raisers for the RNLI.

Our President for many years, Dick, ably assisted by Mary, never missed a Nationals, and took it upon himself to design and run our Championship results system (in the days before off the shelf programmes were readily available), look after registration, and smoothly and calmly mastermind the prize giving.  It was Dick who was responsible for commissioning our wonderful half model Pro-Am prizes.

All said and done, Scorpions, and all things salty, were a large part of Dick’s life.  Our thoughts and sympathies are with Dave, Yvonne, and Euan, and the rest of the Elston family.

John Mursell
National Scorpion Association

Malcolm James

South Cerney SC Gloucester GL7 5TH. Scorpions 2001 and 2011.