The Rally fleet is made up of a wide range of Oyster models, both new and older boats ranging from 50 to 90 foot plus. If entrants don’t already own an Oyster and are not upgrading to a new model for the Rally they tend to choose a brokerage Oyster. It’s not something people do on a whim – most begin the process at least 24 months before the start of the Rally.
If you’re considering a brokerage boat, Oyster Brokerage’s expertise and knowledge of the range is second to none and there is usually an Oyster to suit any budget. For 45 years, their brokers have successfully brought together owners and buyers. With all the latest data on the state of the new yacht and brokerage market at their fingertips, and with the support of engineers, boat builders and project managers, Oyster Brokerage can give you a valuable insight into a potential purchase.
Headed by Jamie Collins, Oyster Brokerage operates in the UK, US and Europe. The team are experts in their field and well-practiced in delivering local and complex international boat sales – something that has been a huge benefit during the pandemic and Brexit. Over the years, they have become used to providing the complete package to prospective Oyster World Rally entrants. This end-to-end service extends from brokerage to refit, servicing, finding crew and more, along with Oyster’s legendary After Sales and technical support that follows once on the boat. A turnkey package like this can take up to three years before the fleet leaves Antigua at the start of the 27,000 mile adventure.
“We get a lot of enquiries, but it is only when you start engaging with the clients and showing them boats that you can begin to understand their requirements. We have an in-depth knowledge of every boat we sell - its history, its specification and what it has done. When you start to get to know the client, and establish their needs, you can advise and match them to the best model for them,” notes Jamie Collins, who is based at Oyster Palma.
“The beauty of Oyster Brokerage is we have a very broad strength and depth across our boats. With a wide choice of boats, we can help narrow down the client’s search and quickly recommend a specific boat. We are looking to find an existing boat that has everything they need or has the ability to become everything they want. One of our service centres will do the rest to make it fit for their Rally experience.”
“For example, we currently have an Oyster 575, Safiya, that is the perfect example of a brokerage yacht suited to the Rally. Safiya has already been around the world – the owner previously had an Oyster 56 and then built Safiya to fulfil his round the world dreams. So, for a client, you have the benefit of getting someone else’s vast experience as an owner who specifically built the boat for that purpose. If the yacht works for you from a budget and size perspective, then you are more or less ready to go.”
Previous owner of an Oyster 62 Rory McGrath proves Jamie’s point beautifully: “We didn’t need to do much as the previous owners had fitted her out the way they wanted for the Rally,” he explains. Rory bought his Oyster 62 Dalliance for the Oyster World Rally in 2017. “We sailed her around the Mediterranean initially and then took it to Palma and had her fitted out by the team there, who were first class, they really looked after the boat.”
“We had never really done any blue water sailing,” he continues. “So we did the ARC (Trans-Atlantic crossing) to make sure that we were comfortable with open ocean sailing, then shipped her back, did some more work in Palma, before doing the ARC again and then starting the Oyster World Rally.”
Jamie picks up the theme. “Then there are yachts like Miss Tiggy and Tianelle, first generation Oyster 575’s that have been around the world and done some miles in-between,” he adds. “Their specifications and ability to go around the world are not in question and, while they might require some upgrading to suit personal tastes, the buyer can go sailing straight away, learn about it and then, before the Rally put her into the Service Centre in Palma. They can then be part of the preparation process and, hand in hand with our team, can learn more about the boat, which makes it easier to carry out essential maintenance themselves on the Rally. On the 575 you don’t really need professional crew, so what better way to learn about the boat than be part of this process?”
For Hugh and Janice Bishop, their experience mirrors Jamie’s view. Together with their joint-owners Andy and Debbie Davis, the Bishop's bought their Oyster 655 through the Oyster Brokerage team in Palma specifically for the Rally.
“Meteorite had had one previous owner and was about seven years old when we bought her. Jamie and his team at Oyster Brokerage in Palma were brilliant. We took her on quite an extensive tour of the Mediterranean and then, working with the team in Palma, talking to other owners and reading articles, we put together a schedule of work and the Palma team worked through it with us,” explains Hugh Bishop.
“It was good to really use the Oyster Service team as they understand exactly how to prepare a boat for a World Rally. If you have not lived on a boat before, there are things that you just don’t know, so working with them saves you wasting time and money on things you don’t need. For us it was important to get to a stage where we knew how everything worked, and how to fix it. We were preparing a boat to live on for three years – we wanted to get everything right, be able to service generators, carry out general maintenance, fit spares, get to know the boat and get used to her.”
“You can’t beat an Oyster to be quite honest, they are premier league,” adds Rory McGrath. “The service they offer is extraordinary, both in Palma and during the Rally itself. The Marquesas Islands are a very long way from anywhere and en route we had a couple of issues, but Oyster flew out a team with all the spares, and in the middle of the anchorage at the Marquesas they just sorted it out. It was remarkable. That is what you take your hat off to,” he concludes.
“My advice would be to give yourself time, as there is more to do than you think. A year to 18 months before you start the Rally would be ideal. That will give you a good season sailing on her,” suggests Hugh Bishop. “You can break the time commitment down beforehand. I was still finishing work, so we were able to do it at weekends, spend a couple of weeks with the crew and so on. The key is to spend time getting to know the boat so it is worth taking some additional time off before the Rally starts so you can get fully prepared.”
“A lot of owners buy for the purpose of going round the world and then sell the boat afterwards,” explains Jamie Collins. “Owners will buy now with an eye on the future, checking which model would be best suited for the next World Rally. Oysters have a strong residual value, so they simply don’t depreciate as much as a production yacht.”
“We found our ideal Oyster, sailed the Rally and then sold her afterwards,” comments Hugh Bishop. “If you seek Oyster’s advice, have them look after your boat, they retain the knowledge and can help with any issues. We came back from our circumnavigation, did a season in Europe and have now sold her to a very nice Irish guy, who is going to do the next Rally in 2022. The whole process was seamless, it worked really well,”
It was a similar story for Rory McGrath who did one last sail in the Mediterranean, finishing in Venice. “With the extraordinary help of Mark Durham and Jamie Collins at Oyster we sold the boat in Venice and her new owners have never been more grateful and still send me updates on Dalliance and how happy they are with the decision they made.”
But the Oyster World Rally is more than just taking a boat around the world. It is the ultimate round-the-world trip, fully supported by the Oyster World Rally Team, sailing with a group of like-minded yachting and travel enthusiasts, seeing the world’s most stunning remote destinations.
“To say that you have circumnavigated the world is an incredible achievement. To be able to sail to places that you could not reach any other way is very special. There were parts of the Pacific particularly, where we were the only boats. It was as if time had stood still. We were totally involved in the present and that was very special,” recalls Oyster World Rally participant Annie Longstaff.
“When you finished a section of the rally it really felt like you had achieved something and then you all get-together and you feel as if you have scored a goal in a Cup Final!” adds Rory McGrath.
If you’re considering a brokerage yacht to take part in the Oyster World Rally, the first step is to connect with the Oyster Brokerage team at [email protected].
“Our knowledge of the boats is second to none. 99.9% of owners talk to Oyster so we know our boats history, which can provide a lot of reassurance,” concludes Jamie. “For Oyster Brokerage it is about providing a turnkey solution for people wanting to embark on the voyage of a lifetime.”