150 Oyster owners, family and crew, attended the Oyster World Rally Start Party at the Copper & Lumber Hotel in Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua. Cocktails and canapés were served, followed by dinner under the stars. David Tydeman, Chief Executive Officer of Oyster Yachts, welcomed the Oyster family to the party.
“The feedback from our questionnaire shows that you all have amazing and varied backgrounds and different reasons for deciding to sail around the world. When you return in two years time, we anticipate that over 100 Oysters will have made that journey since the company started, which says so much about why people decide to sail an Oyster. We feel very privileged to have been able to organise the rally, you are part of a very special group of people, you have all committed the time and resources to sail around the world, and we are looking forward to your stories. Most of all we hope that you will have a great and safe adventure, we will be following you with great interest over the next two years.”
Of the 31 yachts participating in the Oyster World Rally, 15 have sailed over 4000 miles to get to the start in Antigua, including Eric Alfredson's Swedish Oyster 575 Lisanne which won class in the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers). Eric was presented with the trophy and victory champagne by David Tydeman to much applause.
Antigua's top musical act, Itchy Feet featuring Asher Otto, played a vibrant set on the main stage after dinner, with a mixture of their own songs and smash hits through the decades. The dance floor soon came alive, and the party lasted well into the night.
Fox's Rigging – Raising the Standard
Fox's Marina & Boatyard is a longstanding partner of Oyster Yachts, and is the appointed Service Partner for the Oyster World Rally. The experienced team from Fox's is in Antigua prior to the start, and will be on hand at key stopovers, providing complimentary rig inspections and advice for the Oyster World Rally fleet.
“All Oyster World Rally boats in the ARC were inspected before they crossed the Atlantic. We are now in Antigua doing a second check on those boats, and those that didn't do the ARC.” commented Fox's Senior Rigger John Spear. "Our plan is to re-inspect in the Marquesas, New Zealand and Cape Town. However, if any boat needs a rigger, we can provide a service in between those times. Fox's have rigged 95% of Oysters from the very first ones to the modern range and Oyster owners trust our service. We know the boats very well.”
“We selected the Oyster 45 above other brands because of the build quality; she is made for ocean sailing.” commented Tom Longstaff. “The Oyster 45 is perfect for a couple, uncomplicated and a joy to sail, enabling us to explore small creeks and anchorages as well as sail longer ocean passages. We decided to go with the Oyster Rally, rather than with another organisation or on our own, because of the logistic support, enjoying the social side and knowing there is back up, particularly sailing two up.
Fox's informed us that although the rig was fine for the Atlantic crossing, they felt that one of the parts was showing early signs of fatigue and should be replaced in Antigua. The parts were delivered and Fox's serviced the rig in plenty of time. The process was very simple, and has given us peace of mind before we visit the remote Pacific Islands in a few months time.”
Paulina & Mariusz Kierebinski will be sailing their Oyster 46, SunSuSea in the Oyster World Rally. “John Spears from Fox's Marina sailed with us on our first voyage from Ipswich to Guernsey, so Fox's have been with us since we first owned the boat.” commented Mariusz. “John has inspected the yacht in Antigua, and we really appreciate the continuity. We know we will be getting excellent and honest advice and Fox's know exactly what we like in terms of rigging and control lines. Knowing that we have Fox's with us during the Oyster World Rally, gives us so much confidence.”
Security is a primary concern for all participants in the Oyster World Rally, proactively avoiding difficult situations is the goal. Pelagos Yachts is an independent yacht management company that has been working with Oyster owners for over twenty years, Declan O'Sullivan from Pelagos Yachts organised a bespoke seminar on risk management and security with James Kellett from Allmode, a Pelagos Group company. The day long seminar in Antigua covered all manner of health, safety and security measures with expert advice on how to avoid compromising situations both afloat and ashore.
“Safety at sea is a primary concern. Safety is of paramount consideration. The Oyster yachts are thoroughly seaworthy and suitably equipped. All yachts are advised to comply with ISAF Offshore Special Regulations Category 1 as a minimum. However, the seminar from Allmode was designed to give expert advice to the sailors on avoiding situations. Whilst there are risks that need to be managed afloat, getting into a trouble ashore is much more likely.” commented Declan O'Sullivan.
“Through preparation, attitude and situation awareness it is very easy to avoid difficult situations all together.” commented James Kellett, Operations Director of Allmode Limited.
“For example, if a crew member goes ashore to provision the yacht agree in time for them to be back or at least check in to say the job is taking longer. Communication is a key area, a simple old style mobile phone with a local sim card is ideal. The phone can have crew and emergency numbers pre-set and the phone is not a target for thieves like a smart-phone could be. When using a VHF think about what you are transmitting, it is very easy for criminals to listen in and find out sensitive information. So decide on nicknames for people and activities.”
“Afloat, AIS is a safety feature designed to avoid collisions, however some yacht owners switch this off at sea. Our advice is to leave it on but to sanitise the information that is transmitted. If a coastguard or military vessel sees that you have turned off your AIS, they are likely to demand information via Channel 16. The number of crew, your destination and other sensitive information will then be broadcast over a very large area. Our advice is leave your AIS on but reduce the information that it transmits.”