NEW YACHTS - Oyster's Pearls

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The Oyster 885 performance-cruiser

NEW YACHTS - Oyster's Pearls
NEW YACHTS - Oyster's Pearls

Ever since Oyster founder Richard Matthews stepped back from the company in 2008 having sold it to Balmoral Capital, people have been wondering what direction the brand would take. Under the stewardship of new CEO David Tydeman, however, the future looks assured.

Currently in-build at the RMK yard in Turkey are the first of the super-Oysters — a 100 and a 125 respectively. Indeed, with the construction of the 125, the yard has inadvertently set a new world record for the largest single continuous infusion, with 6.3 tonnes of resin flowing in around four hours. But while the brand moves toward the rarefied world of superyacht construction, what of the rest of the range, so well-known for its quality of construction and finish, and seaworthy, go-anywhere design?

The future, it appears, has been revealed recently with the unveiling of the new Oyster 885. Designed by Rob Humphreys, the hull form follows the Oyster ethos for comfortable performance cruising, with a fine entry to help carve through a seaway and a beamy stern, which not only helps downwind performance but provides both stability and, of course, increased interior volume.

This has been put to good use, with a generous rear owner’s cabin complete with a bank of glazed panels across the aft bulkhead’s upper section for additional light. The rest of the interior configuration has been well thought through, too, with the current proposed GA offering three further en suite guest cabins, one of which could also serve as a lower saloon or a study. Crew get their own accommodation forward, with two cabins, along with the galley and crew mess.

Crew, however, might well be optional.

"The yacht has been designed specifically to fit under the MCA’s 24-metre threshold," Rob Humphreys tells me, "but it still gets in an extra guest cabin. This, of course, has a positive knock-on effect on post-sale value."

Sitting under the 24m boundary means that the yacht can be kept for private use without the need for a skipper, although the layout has been set specifically to allow for an appealing charter yacht. Indeed, two versions are offered — a deck saloon or a raised saloon profile — while the huge deck spaces have been designed for sociable living and sailing.

Her actual overall length is 27.08m thanks to a modern bowsprit, on a deck length of 26.06m and a waterline length of 24.18m. Beam comes in at 6.33m, while a variety of keel options will be offered including a high-performance bulb, shoal keel, and a centreboard version. Styling, naturally, is a departure from the older Oyster range.

So is she really an Oyster? "Yes," says Humphreys, "she is still very much an Oyster, but you can’t sit still and ignore what’s going on in design terms. There’s often a problem with innovation in a particular market — people have an expectation and it can be dangerous how you play with that."

Time will tell, no doubt, if this updating of the range will prove popular, but word reaches me that the first 885 has already been sold from the drawings, and is due to be on the water in late 2012. I can’t wait to see her. - Tim Thomas

Photos: The new 27.08m super-Oyster 885; A beamy stern on the Oyster 885 makes for a generous rear master suite; The giant cockpit on the Oyster 885; The Oyster 125 under construction.


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