Exclusive review of the Oyster 1225 – "The world is my Oyster"

12th May 2020

Boat International

  

By Matthew Sheahan

"Named after the extinct genus of turtle, Archelon is a rare beast indeed: a 37-metre that’s just as comfortable sailing the Med as tackling high-latitude adventures. Matthew Sheahan is impressed"

It is not every day that you run a superyacht down a shingle beach alongside windsurfers, kayaks and paddleboards. Stopping the traffic and closing the busy main road that runs along the Lee-on-Solent shoreline also drew plenty of attention as the 37.45-metre hull and deck were rolled on to the beach before being craned on to a waiting barge. Moving the first Oyster 1225, Archelon, from her moulding facility at HMS Daedalus to Oyster’s Southampton yard at Saxon Wharf on the south coast of the UK was a major exercise that had been meticulously planned. The level of detail that went into the operation mirrors the careful thinking that has underwritten every aspect of the 1225’s design.

When Richard Hadida bought Oyster Yachts in 2018 and a new era for the yard began, the yacht was already in progress – at the vanguard of a new breed of Oyster and one of few designs that he would keep on. “The first 1225 was probably halfway through her build in Southampton and we completed it with Pendennis,” he says. “Oyster built all the bespoke cabinetry and interior joinery and under our design and guidance Pendennis fitted it.” On the face of it, Archelon looks just as you’d expect of a modern Oyster, with her distinctive, tinted wraparound saloon windows and plumb bow, a fixed bowsprit and vertical “seascape” portlights in her topsides. But this is an Oyster superyacht that has been designed to cater for an impressively broad range of activities and destinations. From cruising in the familiar grounds of the Mediterranean and Caribbean, to more adventurous highlatitude destinations and circumnavigations, the 1225 is built to take on adventures with ease. “One of the owner’s fundamental requirements was for a fast cruising yacht that could accommodate his family as well as another family or two,” says the owner’s representative, who oversaw the whole build. “Sharing the experiences with friends and family was key, with room for up to 12 guests when the boat was at sea. The result is five guest cabins aft, with a sixth guest cabin forward if necessary, along with two crew cabins forward.” The overall layout certainly flows beautifully, with the upper saloon providing a well-protected al fresco-style dining area that leads down to the spacious lower saloon before two sets of companionway steps descend further to the main accommodation.

The ability to configure the four guest cabins as either twins or doubles is an example of Archelon’s versatility below decks. Another is the snug – a spacious cabin forward and to starboard that is pitched as a playroom/ cinema/home schooling area for children (or it could be used as cabin). Throughout her accommodation the joinery is a pale stained ash and walnut, but when it comes to upholstery she’s far more complex. A collaboration between the owner, the owner’s interior designer Annie Hale and Marcus Wright (then senior interior designer at Oyster Yachts), the upholstery scheme comprises more than 100 luxury fabrics. When it comes to engineering she’s a more conventional affair, with a 450hp Scania D113 main engine, a pair of Kohler 55kW generators and a Mastervolt system for the inverters, chargers and 1,440Ah lithiumion battery bank. “The ability to run silent overnight when she is at rest was another important criteria and the Mastervolt lithium ion battery bank is at the heart of this,” explains Archelon’s project manager Ewan Hind. On deck she boasts an impressively sleek and clutter-free layout, where hydraulically powered captive reel winches for the main halyard, jib sheet and mainsheet keep the number of exposed lines to a minimum. “Right from the outset we knew that this was a yacht that needed to operate in a variety of environments, so the rig and sailplan configuration was especially important,” says Hind. “As such, the Southern Spars in-boom furling system and the North Sails mainsail were arranged to take a third reef, along with a dedicated storm trysail track on the mast.” There’s also a hydraulic furling inner forestay that will be especially useful for passagemaking or high-latitude cruising and can be swapped for a Kevlar inner forestay to carry a hanked-on sail for light use.

So when it comes to her performance under sail, it is perhaps no surprise that she is a comfortable, capable cruiser with long legs. A snapshot of her performance confirms that all-round capability: in 14 knots of true wind she climbs upwind at ease at 11 knots and almost matches the wind speed on a reach. While in stronger breezes of 20 to 25 knots she will sit happily at 14 to 15 knots. As on the Oyster 885, twin rudders were chosen for performance and efficiency. They can be smaller than a single rudder and therefore offer less drag, while on a heel they remain vertical and in the water. “Her DNA is very much that of the Oyster 825 and 885s,” says her designer Rob Humphreys. “She is a slender form that carries displacement well. She’s a stiff boat too and with her twin rudders she can be pressed and yet still retain good balance and control. The upshot is that she is a very good all-rounder and, while we were never looking to make her a lightweight flyer, she would hold her own, I’m sure, in a superyacht regatta.” So while it’s unlikely that Archelon will stop the traffic as she did on the beach at Lee-on-Solent, it is certain that she’ll still turn heads.

RH Q&A

What did you shake up when you bought Oyster in 2018? There were three models that were brand new, with the 1225 at one end of the market and the 565 at the other. These had hydraulic swim platforms, big seascape windows in the owners’ cabin where you can look out over the sea at dawn, and big, clean, flush decks. In between those three, you had all these other boats. I felt the range was too big – if we’ve got a 565, a 595 and a 675, what’s the point of having a 625? So I removed the outdated designs and the range is now six yachts, which are all our latest designs. Which end of the range do you plan to beef up in the coming years? Once people buy an Oyster, they tend to stay and trade up to increasingly larger models. So the sooner we can get someone into the Oyster family the better. I discontinued the 475, so our entry-level yacht at the moment is a 565. We are planning a smaller Oyster that will significantly lower the entry level of bringing people into the Oyster family at a younger age. We’ve finalised all the designs [with Rob Humphreys] and she’s beautiful. What about the other end of the spectrum? I wouldn’t build anything bigger than the 1225. I just think it has everything you could want in a superyacht. And you can still get into the bays and marinas. I leave the next stage to companies like Perini Navi. Who are you aiming at with the revamped Oyster range? Oyster has a very clear DNA, which is being able to cruise the seven seas in luxury comfort. Every Oyster does that – it doesn’t matter if you buy the 565 or the 1225. You can sail both of those boats anywhere in the world. Some of our owners go up into the Arctic Circle – more and more are into adventure tourism. Brands with similar-sized boats, such as Swan and Southern Wind, tend to be more performance based. We have our Oyster regattas so we love to race, but clearly Swan and Southern Wind have gone into that area. We’re focussed on luxury blue-water cruising. There’s no other company that’s fighting for that position at the 1225 end of the line.

Inside Story

The interior brief for the 1225 Archelon was “maximum accommodation”, as Marcus Wright puts it. Then senior interior designer at Oyster Yachts and now at his own studio, Marcus Wright Design, he recalls that the “very social” owners wanted to be able to accommodate up to 20 when in port, with Pullmans in all berths. “Even the snug, a beautifully cosy walnut cabin for family television viewing, can accommodate two adults if necessary, which is why the neighbouring dayhead also has a shower,” he says. Wright worked hard to avoid a cramped feeling, maintaining good door widths and a strong rectilinear theme that “subdued what could easily have been a rabbit warren and kept everything serene with a sense of order”. Wright describes the style as “discreet and understated luxury; a sophisticated contemporary feel with a clear mid-century influence”. Plain, whitewashed bulkheads leave the limelight to the crown-cut walnut veneers used in the feature furniture, which is fixed but designed to appear free-standing. Highlights include an original 1950s Paul McCobb chair sourced by the owner’s interior designer, Annie Hale. The whole ensemble is flattered by a carefully designed indirect lighting scheme by Lighting Design International.