As 2018 comes to a close, we catch up with 2017-2019 Oyster World Rally Coordinator Regine Watts to hear about the fleet’s adventures over the past few months.
"Well, the last time we spoke was early October, when the fleet had reached Mauritius after coming from the beautiful Cocos Keeling islands. The time goes so quickly, it's unbelievable.
Now, the fleet has safely arrived in Cape Town, with some people choosing to go via Madagascar or Mozambique. We had such unpredictable weather on the last few passages that nobody really knew what to expect; currents were very strong and could create freak waves when the wind was coming from the wrong direction. Everybody was trying to avoid the worst of it and some went north, sheltering in Maputo Bay for a couple of days until the next weather window allowed safe passage to Durban, where the majority of the fleet cleared into South Africa before cruising onto Cape Town.
They all made the passage safely; the 2017-2019 Oyster World Rally group really supports each other, and when they arrived at Durban they all said, 'Oh my god, I can’t believe I was so indecisive,' because they often had to change track two or three times a day. It was just one of the most complicated places to sail through because we never knew what was coming and the weather pattern was extraordinarily unsettled.
After that, the next passage was down to Cape Town, and the journey was a bit smoother. The fleet waited for the right weather window and ended up making the journey in an impressive four days! They actually exceeded the hull speed on the boats, because what with the current and the wind coming they couldn’t help but to go really, really fast."
"Réunion was a bit difficult at first because we were stuck in a marina where there was no real transport and we arrived in peak tourist season, so it was difficult to even hire a car. However, I found a tour operator who could offer us guided tours of the island by bus, taking us to places like the Rum Museum and the Piton de la Fournaise volcano.
Then, because we had to wait for the right time to move on to Durban, the 2017-2019 Oyster World Rally fleet had a chance to discover the beauty of the island and eventually did hire their own cars and explore. It’s really stunning, and there's lots of hiking which the participants really enjoyed. Don't forget that when you are on a luxury sailing yacht and you're at sea, you're not really able to exercise a lot. You might walk around the boat maybe and maybe do a bit of exercise off the boat, but the walking itself and the hiking in Réunion was quite hard because the mountains were so steep."
"With all sorts of things! From Cocos Keeling to Mauritius was a long stretch of sailing, and after four, five or six days it can get a bit boring. Reading books is a popular pastime, but on that particular stretch, one of the owners had the brilliant idea to do an ‘Oystervision’ Song Contest. Everybody selected a song that they wanted to perform and then the group voted for around 12 songs that they would perform in Mauritius at the arrival party we had planned there. There was some excellent dressing up and miming, and we had an iPod playing the original songs while different groups sang over them, and it was just hilarious. That really broke up the passage because people had something to think about - they had to decide how to change the lyrics in order to Oyster-fy the songs!"
"Yes, and I tried to get the fleet all there before December because it looked like the weather pattern could actually be quite bad. So, as soon as we got the right window, a large group of the fleet left. Arriving in Cape Town really felt like being back in civilisation again - I think everybody was ready to just come back into a place where you have shopping malls, restaurants and bars. The waterfront marina in Cape Town is incredible, so large and just being somewhere you can walk along the streets and the beach at the same time was great. Cape Town is a beautiful city, with the amazing Table Mountain which I think most of the fleet have now attempted to climb, either by a cable car or by hiking. There are amazing wineries that people have been to visit and have had a really nice time sampling the wine."
"We had dinner at the Jonkershuis Constantia Eatery, which was lovely. We still had three boats on the way so we weren't all together, but unfortunately I couldn't change dates. It was so nice to come together in this beautiful big vineyard with stunning views.
It was also great to see how our Movember boys' moustaches had come along after growing them out for a good cause!"
"It was fantastic. The boys had a fundraising target of £1,000 to reach for men's health, and because everybody posted and re-posted on their social media accounts, they easily reached this target. Oyster also matched the total, meaning that a lot of money was raised for a very, very good cause.
I think now it’s December some of the boys’ girlfriends have said: 'Well that should come off now, it's December,' but throughout November pretty much every member of crew who had the ability to grow a beard tried to grow one. One of crew had a full beard anyway, but shaved it off for the start of November to start growing his new moustache."
"I flew back on the 4th December 2018, but one of the two technical support colleagues who had come out to check the boats in Cape Town stayed a bit longer. One of our colleagues from the United States came and supported the fleet and we also had a rigger out there, because the yachts had undergone a lot of hard sailing over this leg of the 2017-2019 Oyster World Rally. We thought it was a convenient time to give the yachts a good check over, and the fleet will now use the facilities in Cape Town to have the recommended work done."
"The boats are staying in Cape Town, but a lot of the families have flown back to their various homes in America, England or wherever. Some people will stay though and have family come out to Cape Town to visit them over the Christmas period, so it's a real mix."
"We're roughly starting the next leg of the 2017-2019 Oyster World Rally around 5th of January 2019, but it really depends when people want to set off. I fly back out on the 28th to arrive on the 29th, and we're planning a New Year's party to which we have invited a couple of people who've left the fleet in New Zealand or Indonesia, so it will be a great opportunity to reunite with them.
We have found a restaurant which is already hosting a party, and since one of our owners went a couple of years ago and recommended it we thought we would give it a try. It’s right on the waterfront with good views of the fireworks, so it's a beautiful location to celebrate.
In the new year our route consists of sailing across to St. Helena, Ascension, Brazil, Grenada and then finishing in Antigua. Everybody is kind of sad because it's going to come to an end very soon and people are thinking: 'What do I do next? But it’s such an incredible experience, and there’s still a whole leg to go yet!
Stay tuned to hear more about the progress of the 2017-2019 Oyster World Rally."