The inaugural Oyster World Rally will come to an end in Antigua this April, where it all started back in January 2013. During the last 16 months, 26 examples of the Oyster range have travelled over 30,000 miles. Oyster owners, their guests and crew have witnessed an amazing diversity of wildlife, as well as social and cultural differences and the Oyster World Rally family has bonded together forming friendships that will last a lifetime.
Formula One aficionado, Eddie Jordan and the crew of Oyster 885 Lush, describe the Oyster World Rally experience. For over thirty years, Eddie Jordan has travelled the world with the Formula One circuit but sailing around the world with his wife Marie in their brand new yacht, owned by his family trust, has been an ambition of Eddie's for many years.
“It is something that I have on my bucket list, something I wanted to achieve and I am so happy that's been done.” smiled Eddie Jordan. “One of our first stops was the San Blas Islands, the Kuna Indians have lived there for centuries and despite the influences of the outside world, they still have no currency and bartered with us for water. They don't just survive but seem totally happy, you could feel envious of their style of life. On the other hand, less than 100 miles away is the Panama Canal. Passing through it was an amazing experience, you don't realise how huge the Panamax ships are until you are right behind one in a lock; when they turn on their engines it is unbelievable. The difference between the San Blas Islands and the Panama Canal is a good example of the diversity of the world we were going to explore and those early days confirmed that the Oyster World Rally was going to be a memorable experience.
Of all the places we visited, the Galapagos Islands really stands out for its wildlife. There is no way I could ever describe Galapagos correctly because it is just so gobsmaking. I found it especially exhilarating under the water; sea lions, turtles, so many species of fish and of course the sharks. To swim right alongside a big hammerhead shark is something that takes your breath away. At first you are thinking 'Am I out of my mind?' Of course you have got to be wary - we weren't over casual about it but we didn't stop diving off the back of the boat.
Lush Skipper and First Mate, Paul and Audrey Adamson and all the crew, including Al Canavan have been a pleasure to have on the team. Over the last 30 years, I have had dozens of amazing staff on all of my boats but I am not sure if there is a more complete and dedicated couple than Audrey and Paul, they were so perfect for this job. I have never heard a grumpy word, not once. Living in close quarters, people can become despondent or get on each others nerves but they were just a magic couple.
In some ways the adventure was better than I could have expected and a lot of the surprises were down to the fact that you didn't really know what was in front of you. I adore adventure and in what ever I am doing I like to go forward, doing things over and over again has never been my style. So sailing around the world has been absolutely fantastic.”
Paul Adamson, skipper of Oyster 885, Lush has been amazed by the sea life on the Oyster World Rally. “We know so little about our oceans and all through the rally we have encountered incredible wild life. In Tahiti we visited the Blue Lagoon in the Tuamotu Archipelago, which has literally a hundred Black Tip Reef Sharks and huge Lemon Sharks. The sharks were swimming around us, coming right up to us, which was incredible. In St.Helena, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, we saw Devil rays with a wing span of over 3 metres but they were small in comparison to the Whale Sharks, which where truly awesome. They were just spinning around us, just a few inches from us - when we surfaced from that dive we agreed that life doesn't get any better than that. Audrey and I swam back to Lush, I put the kettle on and Audrey was showering off at the back of the boat and started yelling at me in her West of Ireland accent. A 50ft Whale Shark had followed us and was right next to the swimming platform! The masks and snorkels went on and we filmed it swimming around the boat, the Whale Shark was so friendly and inquisitive, we know so little about these ocean giants, it was incredible to have such a personal experience with them.”
Audrey Adamson, First Mate on Oyster 885, Lush spoke about one day during the Oyster World Rally that she will never forget.
“There were thousands of moments that I will remember for ever but one that fills me with emotion everyday really stands out.” commented Audrey. “We arrived at the Lau Islands in a remote area of Fiji and the locals had gone to extraordinary lengths to welcome us. The whole village was there to meet us, we were dancing with them, doing silly dances like the conga. They were so excited to see us, it is difficult to describe but it was such a beautiful experience; so innocent and giddy. The effort they had put in and how much it meant to them was very moving.
Perhaps many people hear about the Oyster World Rally and just dismiss it as a bunch of superyachts, sailing around the world taking pictures but we have had a real impact on the Lauans and that was felt by all of us as well, the adventure and joy was shared. I will never forget the Lau elder, when he stood up to welcome us. He was a huge man with a massive rugby player's physique and he totally broke down and it had a profound affect on all of us, words just can't describe that moment.
The rally has been so well organised by Oyster, especially having Debbie Johnson and Eddie Scougall with us the whole way. The amount of preparation they put in was extraordinary and no matter where we were, they would be ready to help. Paul and I have made lifelong friends with so many people through this adventure and Debbie and Eddie are most definitely in that family.”
In April, the Oyster World Rally will come to a conclusion at its point of origin, Antigua, West Indies. There will be a fitting celebration for the Oyster World Rally, which was designed to celebrate Oyster Yachts 40th Anniversary. Timed to follow on from those celebrations, the annual Oyster Caribbean Regatta will be held in Antigua from 7-12 April. Over 40 Oyster yachts are expected to be in Antigua, the largest gathering of the brand since the company was founded in 1973.
Words: Louay Habib