“It is the right time,” he says, “but I am saying this with a tear in my eye. I love my wife, but I also love Rasmus. I do not regard the boat as our second home, it is our first home!”
For Hannes and Steffi, it will be a year of mixed emotions as they celebrate Hannes’ 80th birthday and look back at how Rasmus has played such an important part in their lives. With plenty of sailing experience to draw upon, it was clear that the 61 would fit their needs from the moment they visited Oyster Yachts at the London Boat Show. The deck saloon layout and large opening windows made a lasting impression and it wasn’t long before they had dismissed the competing alternatives and were on the path towards ownership.
Rasmus is the fifth 61 launched, of which 14 were produced altogether. She has the conventional cutter rig, with hydraulic furlers for both foresails and an in-mast furling mainsail. The hull was specified with additional Kevlar reinforcement in the forward sections to give an additional safety factor and the fit-out included a retractable bow thruster, generator, a watermaker, which Hannes says still makes 96 litres an hour, a washing machine and a dishwasher. A less common addition was a compressor for their scuba-diving cylinders.
Hannes is a hands-on type of owner and loves spending time in the onboard workshop where he appreciates what he describes as a ‘proper workbench and good headroom’.
Hannes is particularly proud of the quality of the carpentry throughout and how it has endured.
“There’s really good craftsmanship in the woodwork,” he says. “Everybody who comes on board is impressed by the still-perfect finishes with no scratches.”
Their trans-Atlantic voyages, as part of the ARC fleet, have also involved stays in the Caribbean. Indeed, the boat was based in St Lucia from 2009 until 2013 and they have fond memories of the 2003 Oyster Antigua Regatta in which they were placed first in Class One.
“The Oyster 61 is a very fast boat, but easy to sail,” he says.
Other favoured destinations have been Sardinia and Sicily, as well as the Azores on their return trips from the Caribbean.
The emphasis throughout their ownership has been on having fun on board – there are stories of dancing in the mid-Atlantic and plenty about engaging with the wider Oyster family of owners.
As they reflect on many happy years afloat, Hannes’ upcoming birthday party at their home in Austria also promises to be a memorable occasion.
“There will be a 50-piece local band and 90 guests, more than half of whom are sailors and friends we have made over the years,” he says.
Rasmus has been a central part of their lives from the moment she was launched and you suspect there will be more than a few toasts drunk in her honour, as well as for Hannes on the big day.
After all, being among the longest-serving Oyster and owner deserves a toast to both.
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