Yachts and motorbikes have thrilled Pau Serracanta all his adult life and his adventures have been shaped by them. As a director of Dorna Sports, he has organised the MotoGP World Championships amongst many other events.
Aged just 28, he bought his first yacht, a 27ft Jeanneau and like most sailors, has always had his next yacht in mind, and his next adventure. A succession of larger boats followed: a Jeanneau 36, a Jeanneau 42DS and then a 53DS. But he always hankered after an Oyster. That was his true dream yacht. “The first time I saw an Oyster I thought ‘Wow!’ and every time I saw one afterwards I would go over in my dinghy and look,” he says.
Pau Serracanta’s story is typical of Oyster owners. They have chosen their yacht above all others and have frequently coveted one for many years. Only an Oyster will do. They appreciate that these yachts offer them true value in terms of comfort, safety, after sales service and high residuals, whilst being a real home-from-home anywhere in the world.
Today, Pau Serracanta and his partner Helena de Felipe Sempere are serial Oyster owners who have had two in succession. They lived on board their Oyster 575 with their young son during the pandemic and enjoyed the experience. It gave them the freedom they would not have had on land and the comforts they enjoy at home: state-of-the-art tech and wifi for working on board; a generous galley with good quality appliances; super-comfortable mattresses in every cabin; good ventilation and air conditioning; and a light, spacious saloon.
Life on board suited them so much that they began to contemplate a much longer trip and decided to order a new Oyster 595 to take part in the Oyster World Rally 2024-25. They will shakedown their new yacht, Mastegot, in the Med before hauling out for final work at Oyster’s facility in Palma before an Atlantic crossing this winter. “We will ask what we need to do and I know that they will tell me based on their experience. They will manage everything. In the world of boating, this is so rare. I am so happy someone there is delivering the service,” Pau says.
WHAT MAKES OYSTER’S BLUEWATER FLEET THE ONLY CHOICE FOR MANY OWNERS? FOUR OWNERS AND OYSTERS’ FOUNDER, RICHARD MATTHEWS, GET TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER.
Oysters are seductive – every owner will tell you that – but the decision to buy is rational and multi-faceted. Oysters command a premium price, even compared with rival luxury brands, so why do so many owners feel that only an Oyster will do?
For Pau Serracanta, the possibility of taking part in the Oyster World Rally made the choice a logical one. “I did check out Swan and Contest and also Amel, but when I looked at design and solutions, Oyster was the one that convinced me more. They tick many boxes. Then, when I bought my first Oyster, I felt the difference. My second improves on many things. The build quality is something you can feel absolutely.”
Christian Casal had logged over 50,000 miles on charters and offshore passages, but he had never owned his own boat. When he and Katja, his wife, decided to buy one they were looking for a boat that would be safe and reliable, one they could depend on and know that “if you get in an unexpected storm or difficult situation, it is at the highest level.”
“I talked with a lot of people,” he says. “Reliability and durability were paramount, but also service levels around the world. We did look at other brands but they have less ability to do customisation, which my wife and I wanted.”
The Oyster’s centre cockpit was also an attraction. “Some have the wheels very far aft and on a night when my wife and I are alone steering on watch we would be 1m away from the ocean, and we didn’t want that. We think an Oyster is safer and the level of comfort is far better.”
Casal decided to order a new Oyster 625 and followed that with a new Oyster 745, named Kalia. He and Katja have poured all their experience and creativity into this new, larger yacht by tailoring the layout and interior design. This was one of the most fulfilling aspects of the project, admits Casal. “We changed some non-structural bulkheads so we have a slightly different design around the galley and the interior design is ours. It sounds weird but you do feel it is your own boat and we are proud of it.”
The process of seeing your boat being built and the relationships that new owners forge with their dedicated project manager, craftspeople and support and commissioning team at Oyster are close and hugely rewarding. Casal describes the experience as joining “a community".
“What is really cool is that we now know a dozen different people in Oyster and we can call them anytime. The support team in Palma are great and sometimes we go there just to say hello.”
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In his twenties, Steve Goodwin hitchhiked on ocean passages. The sense of freedom never left him and, much later, when his son Freddie was eight years old, he and his wife, Jo, decided the time was right to go off cruising.
Goodwin’s early ocean experiences shaped some firm views about yacht design and seaworthiness. “From the point of view of priorities, you want a comfortable boat that is safe,” he says. “You want a yacht you know can go anywhere, but if that comes at the cost of performance you might be bored stiff, so there is a balance. I wanted to have a high quality of build, a boat that had a comfortable motion at sea and a bit of speed.”
Initially, the family looked at a variety of brokerage bluewater boats under 50ft. “But then,” says Goodwin, “we thought about going a bit bigger and looked at the Oyster 56.
“When we were on board we could see that because of the way it is designed for shorthanded sailing, it would be quite feasible to sail with three of us and that gave us more options and comfort for longer passages. We felt we wanted the extra room and space.”
Moana had been built in 2003 and, although in good shape, required a refit for the transatlantic adventure the family had in mind. An excellent, heavily built hull means the hull will be fine – systems can be upgraded,” says Goodwin. “Moana came at a price that allowed us to do a fair bit of peripheral work and bring it back to a reasonably high spec for its age.
“The quality of the joinery is incredible and it has stood the test of time. Every day I look at it I think: ‘This is real craftsmanship.’ The thought that has gone into the Oysters over the years shows in the way it was laid out and the accessibility was obvious; you don’t find anything that isn’t properly thought out ergonomically and practically. The as-built manuals are fantastic and detailed. I can certainly say that all my impressions when we bought the boat have been backed up and borne out in ownership.”
Goodwin says that one of the most important aspects of owning an Oyster is the support and backup that comes with a yacht for life. “Our boat is 20 years old now and parts are reaching the end of their mechanical life so things could quite reasonably fail, but when that does happen you can always access machinery, there are often backup systems and the company will never leave you in the lurch. You will never be neglected as an Oyster owner by the Oyster family. We are this boat’s third owner and are treated as well as the owner of any new yacht.”
Few people know more about Oysters than the company’s commercial manager, Nick Creed, who has worked for the company for over 36 years. He too points to Oyster’s guarantee of quality and reliability. “They are yachts owners can rely on, that will take them anywhere they want to go whether that is around the world, across the Solent or to high latitudes,” he says.
“Strength, attention to detail and design - it has all been chosen for what the yacht has to do rather than what it costs. We choose the very best partner components and accessories. If you look at the winches and blocks, we will choose the next size up from the manufacturer’s ready reckoner because we know people are going to use their boats in all sorts of ways. We choose things for strength and longevity.
“An Oyster costs more because we pay a lot of attention to detail. If nothing else, go and look at the weight of the boats and the rigging sizes. That says everything. Together with lead keels on every model, we put all that quality in there, with everything specified for ease of use and longevity. He points out that the latest designs feature twin rudders, which provide a fingertip-light and stable feel on the helm, even if pressed to high angles of the heel.
“Most significantly of all, yachts are inspected and certified by Lloyd’s-approved engineers and surveyors. They inspect the entire build process from design and engineering drawings and mechanical testing of materials and resins to hull and deck moulding.
“Every detail is thought through,” says Nick Creed. As an example, he says: “Stemhead fittings are made and designed for the boat to be anchored in extreme conditions – it takes a crane to put one on all our yachts. And when it comes to maintenance, everything is installed so that it can be accessed.
“We have Spectra, not braid halyards, high-quality sails with laminate cloth, and our engine rooms and generator areas are all lined with dual low and high-density insulation for superb sound deadening. Our soft furnishings are unsurpassed for comfort and style and we have leecloths on all the sea berths so they are also practical and safe. We always design for lots of stowage so people have room for everything they need to live on their boats.”
The company takes particular pride in the long life of each of its designs. Over 1,200 yachts have been built, most of which are still actively sailing today. To date, more than 100 Oysters, ranging in size from 45ft to 88ft, have sailed round the world and each year the number grows. Many of these have taken subsequent owners safely round on yet another world-girdling voyage.
If anyone knows what makes Oysters stand out, it is Richard Matthews, who founded the company back in 1973. Matthews is an exceptionally experienced sailor with a sailing career that spans inshore and offshore racing as well as long-distance cruising. Although no longer involved directly in the company, he is still a devoted Oyster owner (Oyster 82 Midnight) and his appreciation of what owners desire and need continues to define the Oyster brand.
“The people who buy Oysters have one thing in common: they're in a position to express a preference for the best,” he says. “They are not trying to get the biggest boat they can for their money, what they’re trying to do is to find a boat that will endure for a long time and give them real pride of ownership.
“The difference starts on the drawing board. We are not trying to be all things to all people. We provide a comfortable living environment on a boat that's a pleasure to look at, an aesthetically pleasing boat that is safe and practical to live aboard for long periods. That is the reason that we're able to do a round-the-world rally successfully. Few constructors would dare to do a fleet circumnavigation as Oyster has done three times now,” he says.
From early on, Matthews appreciated that the ‘family’ relationships the company cultivates are valuable and hugely meaningful to owners. “To become an Oyster owner you have to buy the yacht from Oyster, so the relationship is there from day one and it isn't watered down by a network of dealers, brokers, agents or whatever. When you buy you become a member of the extended Oyster family.”
Pau Serracanta makes the same point. “You pay a lot of money but the quality is there and once you have the product you get the extra service. They keep records of when something was done or added and it’s all tracked. That is why the residual value is so high. And you do feel you become part of a family. When you find another Oyster owner, you say hello. There is a very strong sense of community.”
“It depends on the market at the time, but with an Oyster, you will get a higher price when you sell than you would with a lesser quality boat. So that is a big factor,” says Christian Casal. He adds: “Almost all yacht owners I talked to told me that the running costs would be 10% of the capital cost per year. That’s not true. It’s not even been 5% and I keep my boat in super shape.
“I tell people with the same profile as me and my wife: think of what you want to spend and which Oyster you can afford. Maybe you will lose 5-10ft overall [compared with a rival type] but you have a boat you can rely on, especially if you have limited time to sail on the ocean and want to do longer passages across the ocean.”
Besides all these practical considerations, there is an intangible, unquantifiable quality that simply has to come with ownership: a sense of pride. In the case of Oyster owners, this seems to intensify rather than dim with familiarity, and it encourages many owners to follow on with another Oyster. That was the case for Pau Serracanta, who moved from his 575 to a new 595: “I always have been in love personally with the deck saloon. On some designs, they can be too high but on Oyster, they look nice, sporty, and powerful. If one day the 595 is too big for us, I would go for the 495.”
Steve Goodwin is lyrical about the pleasure of ownership. “We all love the boat, the design of it. Moana is a really pretty boat; we think she stands out. As a family, we have connected so closely with her and feel she is unique. When we go ashore and look back, she just looks like the nicest boat in the anchorage.”
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