I hope you have continued to keep safe and well. It’s been a tough winter for many of us in the Northern Hemisphere, whilst on the other side of the world another exciting sailing season draws to a close. Here, with the easing of lockdown on the horizon and the first signs of spring in the air, the promise of freedom in a new sailing season is in reach. I’m sure, like me, you can’t wait to get out on the water again.
When the world ground to a halt this time last year, we had no idea of how things would play out. Much to everyone’s surprise however, it has been one of our busiest years ever, with the pace ramping up since my last update at Christmas. As a result, my update is a bit longer than usual, but I wanted to share with you all the exciting things that have been going on.
The big news is the announcement of our latest addition to the fleet: the stunning 50 foot Oyster 495. We have already sold several off plan and I’m delighted to announce we’re opening a new, dedicated production facility in Hythe, Southampton to build this model. The site is steeped in history. It was once the home of the pioneering Imperial Airways Empire Flying Boats, so it’s fitting that we will build our latest adventure machine here. We have great plans for Hythe Marine Park, already a centre of excellence for boat building, it is the ideal location for our expansion.
As I mentioned above, it’s been a year of surprises and in terms of boat sales across our new yacht range and brokerage, the only word to describe it is ‘exceptional’. I’m very excited about the launch of the Oyster 595 this summer – she has impressed off plan, with nine delighted owners in build before the first has even touched the water. Our award winning 565 (now our most successful model to date), continues to capture the imagination of sailors around the world, with 17 hulls now sold. The rest of the fleet has sold well too, including sales of 675, 745 and the model closest to my heart, the Oyster 885. We will begin construction of hull 15 in early 2022 and the first 885GT hull and deck has arrived in Southampton for her fit out. You can find more information on our stunning new yacht range here or contact our sales team who would be delighted to help.
We’ve continued to invest in building a business with a long-term sustainable and profitable future for the next generation of Oyster owners. The order book has swelled and the build bays are all occupied, which is driving investment in expansion of the team and facilities. As well as the Hythe site, we’re investing in Wroxham to increase capacity for the Oyster 565 and 595.
I’m really excited to welcome our new COO Peter Hamlyn, whose arrival couldn’t be more timely. He’s already made a positive impact on production and we expect to see build times reduce, with more build slots becoming available under his guidance. As a master craftsman himself, his priority is maintaining our outstanding quality and craftmanship. He’s looking at ways we can use new technology to complement the outstanding quality of our craftsmanship whilst accelerating production.
Higher demand and new facilities mean we have to grow our team too. It goes without saying, I am extremely proud of our team and what they have achieved this year – it’s great to see a host of new talent coming onboard. By the summer, the team will have grown from 300 a year ago to 460. My passion for maintaining and growing these skills has led me to launch the Oyster Apprenticeship Academy. This will ensure we have the skills to sustain the Great British boat building trades and techniques, so that future generations of sailors will be able to enjoy their own Oyster adventures.
The 2022-23 Oyster World Rally was hugely oversubscribed so, in response, we have just launched the 2024-25 rally to satisfy that demand. A few slots still remain for the 2024 adventure, so don’t miss out if you’ve been dreaming of a circumnavigation. Join us on this fully-supported lap of the planet and, if you need inspiration, come along to our next webinar on 8th April or read our past circumnavigators’ stories here. These rallies epitomise everything an Oyster yacht has to offer. Our well-provisioned, robust, high-quality yachts are the perfect adventure machines. They will take you to places others cannot reach and give you experiences you will remember for a lifetime.
Over the last 12 months, it’s been fantastic to have welcomed lots of new owners to the Oyster family. Our brokerage team has been inundated and their ability to pull off complex international deals seamlessly, through lockdowns and the challenges of Brexit, has been remarkable. If you are looking to upgrade, it’s a great time to sell your Oyster, thanks to high residuals and demand for boats. And if you’re thinking of buying, talk to the guys at Oyster Brokerage – their depth of knowledge and experience is unsurpassed, with a choice of yachts of every size and budget.
Chartering is a great way to get to know our yachts and experience what it’s like to own one. It’s how I got into Oysters and look where it’s taken me! The last year has been tough for yacht charters, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, demand has leapt for both summer charter in the Mediterranean and winter charter in the Caribbean. We have taken on a number of stunning new listings; and if staying closer to home is important to you, we have yachts in unique and unexpected locations. Why not talk to Molly at Oyster Charter and experience the dream yourself?
With the new season imminent, it’s time to get your Oyster ready for adventure. If you’re doing it yourself, you’ll find our new season checklist from resident expert Eddie Scougall indispensable. Or get in touch with our Service teams and let them get her ready so you can enjoy uninterrupted sailing throughout the season. They’ll even deliver your yacht to the best location for you to begin your next adventure.
I’ve missed the buzz of the boat shows and the chance to catch up with old friends and new. We are planning to appear at all the usual shows this year if they go ahead – you’ll find details here. Our Private Views last year were incredibly popular, so we intend to continue these in a similar format to provide exclusive access to our new yachts. We’re the premier sponsor for the Safe Harbor race weekend in Newport this August too, which is set to be the perfect weekend for Oyster owners.
I’m sure, like me and my family, you’ve been planning new adventures over the last few months. Our insider sailing guides (put together by our owners and team) are a great place to look for inspiration. They’re packed with information on routes and stopovers, through to things to do and places to see.
Our Oyster family get-togethers are always a highlight of the year for me and, sadly, our Antigua Regatta in April was another casualty of Covid. But I’m looking forward to this year’s Palma Regatta, 27th September to 1st October and hope to see you there – it’s a great way to end the summer and share stories of the high times and happy days we’ve all had over the season.
Until then, take care. I hope to see you out on the water soon and thank you once again for being part of the Oyster family.
CEO and Owner, Oyster Yachts