Cruising World

Onboard the Divine 595, the World is Your Oyster

The new Oyster 595 is not only a magnificent vessel in its own right, but it’s also a window to the rarified world of custom, post-pandemic, handcrafted boatbuilding.

Let’s just say I was feeling on top of the world. It was a ­lazy Saturday afternoon ­early this past September on the Solent - the historical straight off the south coast of England that lies between the ­mainland United Kingdom and the Isle of Wight - and I felt right at home, styling at the helm of the new Oyster 595, freshly launched from the company’s shipyard in Wroxham.

The gleaming yacht - a word I do not freely bandy about, but this glamorous steed was far beyond your basic “sailboat” - cleaved through the light chop effortlessly, gliding upwind at 8 knots in precisely the same amount of breeze. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed many a lucky trick at many a lovely wheel, moments I’d wished could be frozen in time, and this was yet another one. This Oyster is a vessel that should, can and will taste ­far-reaching ­waters all over the globe, and do so with power and panache.

And frankly, it damn well should.

We’ll get this over with straightaway. For all its magnificence - and that’s the surefire correct adjective for this Rob Humphreys-designed stunner - the 595 will set back its well-heeled owners more than $3 million, which means, I might know how to drive one, but I surely will never own one. But the Oyster 595, perhaps more to the point, has a lot to say not only about contemporary, state-of-the-art, high-end production boatbuilding - and boat buying - but also the broader seascape as the marine industry slowly emerges from what is hopefully the worst of the pandemic.

Consider this: Our lovely test sail was conducted on Hull No. 1 of the 595, for which 16 units have already been sold…sight unseen! (­Never mind sails unfurled.) Down the road from Southampton, in the seaside ­village of Hythe, an entirely new ­factory is being tricked out to build the next Oyster up in the line, the 495; no fewer than 10 orders have been placed for that boat, and the very first one is still under construction! Order books are now full a couple of years down the road, and this is by no means a success story that Oyster alone is enjoying. From ­Southampton, I made my way across the English ­Channel to France for this year’s edition of the Cannes Yachting Fe­stival, and the story was repeated time and time again from nearly all the world’s top builders (Swan, Contest, Grand Soleil, HH Catamarans, etc.). ­Order books for seemingly all the major players are full now through 2023 (at the very least), many for ­models that do not yet exist beyond design renderings and brochures.