Having finished his first Oyster World Rally, Ruedi Brunnhofer signed up for his second one almost immediately. Second time around, he upgraded his Oyster 54-18 In Flagranti (bought for his first OWR) to a new 575-36 (called Inflagranti) for the second with only a little space between the two circumnavigations – in time and spelling! In both cases, handover was completed just six months before departure, but Ruedi’s learning curve has been steeper than most.
“I was a completely new sailor with no experience at all when I ordered my Oyster. It was learning by doing. On the first rally I had to pay so much attention to the boat I was always thinking more about what we were doing than where we were. That is the main reason I am going again, to enjoy all the places we visited the first time! I only learned of the Oyster World Rally after I signed the contract for the boat. I decided I wanted to sail and chose Oyster – I was just going to go to cruise in the Mediterranean but then everything came together,” he explains.
“I am not an extreme adventurer, more the safety-orientated type! But it felt like now or never, with the reassurance that with the organisation and the support I wouldn’t be alone with the yacht if there was a problem. With what I’ve learned on the way, now I would be happy to go alone, but I’m happy there was the second edition of the Oyster World Rally! Also my son decided to come with me - his studies finished just as the rally was starting, so as well as family it was to be a father-son experience.”
“I had only been motor boating on a Swiss lake before, I’d not even sailed dinghies but I got my offshore licence thanks to a fellow Swiss entry, Thomas Meseck, when we sailed with him on the handover delivery of his 575-10 Satika. My own yacht handover was at the end of June, so we sailed to the Baltic with a RYA instructor for three weeks. My son spent a couple of months at the RYA school in Gibraltar before joining us for the ARC.”
“For the ARC, we took an experienced crew, so when we arrived in Antigua, we were able to do most things on our own. On both rallies, I used a weather router for any passage over five or seven days. The forecasts were very precise and there were times with winds of 50 knots and six to eight metre waves – pretty scary but it gave me confidence that Oyster yachts really work, and we were never in a critical situation.”
“When did I decide to go again? More or less immediately – you see, I don’t think of myself as a sailor, I love travelling and this time a sailing boat was the way I chose to go from A to B. The Pacific is heaven! We all dive and have a compressor on board. My son will only join us for parts of the second rally but the diving on the first was the best. Particularly in the Galapagos – he has always dreamt of diving with hammerhead sharks and there were huge groups of them. It left him thinking these islands are the most amazing place on earth!”
Hailing from the Netherlands but living in the Philippines, Robert van den Enden, had cruised widely including going transatlantic in the ARC. To celebrate 30 years in business with a break, he turned his mind to sailing the world with his school-aged family. Renamed Talaba, Oyster 54-18 was set for her second circumnavigation.
“We bought Talaba through Oyster Brokerage in Palma,” Robert told us. “She’d been around the world previously but was in very good condition. After the survey, anything that wasn’t right Oyster fixed. But then once you start to look into doing the Oyster World Rally, naturally different things come up. Shehas completely new rigging, new sheets, halyards and replacement batteries – and that was just the start! Anything that runs and turns has been changed this winter. Oyster Palma has been very busy!”
“We sailed across to Ibiza, then to Gibraltar and Lanzarote where they have a good RYA school, where the family had extra training. When I’m on board they tend to lean on me but if I fell overboard, I would appreciate them turning the yacht around! It’s good for them to have more experience on their own, without me on board. I was born by the sea so sailed and did other watersports but when I started my company, it stopped – I was too busy and travelling all the time. Then with the kids a bit bigger, we started chartering.”
“Everyone liked the lifestyle and five years ago we bought an XC45, first cruising the Mediterranean. In 2013 I crossed the Atlantic with the ARC and then, with the family, we did the whole Caribbean trip through to spring. So they have done quite a few miles, but it’s been two or three nights at sea max.”
“We were thinking of doing the long trip and we had chartered cats as well, so I gave Marie Jane, my wife, and the kids the choice, a cat or a yacht? They said it depends, if it’s an Oyster, then yacht… We had been planning to do this a few years ago when Sarah and Robbie were nine and 11, (they’re now 15 and 17) but started to worry about taking them away from friends and school. In the end we just did the three months in the Caribbean and realised it didn’t have any real impact. We’re home schooling – it’s interesting, you actually lose all the wasted school hours so you normally need only about four hours a day. To make a head start and reduce pressure on the trip, we started with a teacher at home trying to get the core subjects, like maths and sciences, out of the way.”
“It is such a great opportunity to be together. My companies are all over the world, so I travel half the year. Sailing is family bonding time and unlike most teenagers, my kids can’t wait to go out on the boat with us.”
“I have also had some training onboard with Eddie Scougall who’s been with Oyster for many years and was on the world rally team. After a year’s sailing I know most of the common things but with Eddie we went into the jobs you might have to do yourself in the Pacific and to really understand where everything is. His shared knowledge of Oyster and the World Rally is so valuable.”
“My biggest worry was what spares to bring. I ordered a lot but there is a limit to what you can take, otherwise you need a second boat! Most important to me was to make sure this was an enjoyable trip for everybody. That it’s the experience we’re all dreaming of and that we can look back to it or forward to more adventures because the world is still big and I’m only 53. I’ve got a long way to go!”
“We left our native Poland back in 1987 to sail around the world and we eventually settled in America. Nearly 30 years to the day, we will be starting our second circumnavigation in our Oyster 56 Shanties on the Oyster World Rally in 2017-19,” says Jacek.
“We considered many other boats but once we had visited Oyster and seen the craftsmanship, there was only going to be one outcome.” says Jacek. “It would have taken us many years to plan this adventure on our own. The Oyster World Rally takes care of so much of the logistics, we can just concentrate on maintaining our boat and enjoying our second circumnavigation, this time in more comfort.”
“Before the start of the Oyster World Rally 2017-19, we had just acquired Oyster 56 Duchess (veteran of the first Oyster World Rally). Just 24 hours before the start, we called on King Neptune to rename her Shanties. We were in Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua and the ritual involved offering champagne to the Gods of the north, south, east and west winds. With the Oyster family cheering us on, the champagne flowed over the boat and the ceremony was complete.
“It was great to see this Oyster going on another big voyage,” says Eddie Scougall (Technical Support Manager). “Duchess served her owner Leo Nagtegaal very well in the first rally. I truly believe that these boats have a soul, and if you look after them, they look after you.”
Jacek and Dobra’s Oyster World Rally was nothing if not eventful. They celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary on the beautiful Society Island of Huahine in French Polynesia. And of course, it was a unique celebration ‘the Oyster way’.
“Our wedding was a dream in 1987 – we were married in Liverpool Cathedral. So in 2017, we timed our anniversary perfectly, landing in the ‘Garden of Eden’ to celebrate with our Oyster friends on the palm-fringed shores of Baie d’Avea,” explains Dobra.
“With its lush forests, untamed landscape, quaint villages and crystal-clear lagoon, it was just idyllic,” continues Jacek. “The bride looked stunning in turquoise, adorned with perfumed gardenia, bougainvillea and orchid leis on her head and shoulders. Guests were given a colourful lei to wear round their necks – a sign of friendship.
We’re told dancing on the soft white sandy beach continued way into the night, with Jacek’s rum concoctions ensuring a few sore heads in the morning. Their ruby anniversary will take a lot to top this pearl!
Jacek and Dobra are all set to go for their third circumnavigation and second Oyster World Rally in January 2022.