Saturday, August 4th, 2018
Oyster Yachts Explains What Makes the Best Bluewater Cruisers
Bluewater cruising means taking your yacht anywhere and everywhere in the world, with no restrictions on where you can go or how long for. It is by far the most exciting and freeing method of sailing. But in order to cruise safely, a suitably impressive boat is required. Bluewater sailing yachts need to survive out on the water for long periods of time, withstanding tough conditions whilst keeping everyone onboard secure and comfortable. So what goes into building these incredible vessels? To get some insight, Colette Flowerdew-Kincaid talked to Paul Adamson, CCO of bluewater-sailboat-specialist Oyster Yachts.
So Paul, what design aspects do you think are essential to building the best bluewater cruisers?
From Oyster’s point of view, the first point to make here is that cruising fast is a lot more fun than cruising slow. You’ll never hear a cruising sailor say: ‘It took me 12 days to cross the Atlantic last year but this year it took me 15’ – it will always be the other way round. So all our boats are designed for long distance cruising but also have an easily driven hull, meaning you sail quickly in pure comfort and safety. For us, it’s about building an efficient hull, which is also very safe, stable and secure for family bluewater cruising. To achieve this design we work with the legendary Rob Humphreys, who comes up with incredible hull forms which allow the yachts to be easily driven and oceangoing. This means higher average daily miles and quick ocean crossings, but also ensures our hulls will look after you in a blow.
The next part is the way that we ergonomically design the yachts. This means thinking about every aspect of how our customers use their boats, and building them for maximum efficiency and comfort. It comes down to things like looking at where you sit in the cockpit for long distances; checking how our backrests sit for people; putting in little steps at angles to make sure that it is comfortable to stand at the wheel if the yacht is heeled over.
Then, interior-wise, it’s all about making an interior which has the complete wow factor, as in you go below on these yachts and it will just totally blow you away. Our yachts are like a 6 star luxury apartment that you can take with you and visit the most beautiful places in the world. So we create that wow factor below and also make the yacht practical, taking into account that this luxury apartment does roll and pitch and yaw.
And then you’ve got also all the systems that go onto the boat. Part of an Oyster is all the comforts you get onboard, such as air conditioning units, refrigeration for long-term freezing, cockpit fridges, fridges in the galley. There are many systems onboard our bluewater cruisers, from the engines and generators to the TV and media systems, so a big part of our design is looking at how you integrate these systems to make a yacht that is both practical and has the wow factor that our owners expect.
Just how much technology do you think is needed on modern bluewater cruising yachts?
That’s a very good question. Part of my involvement with the first Oyster 885 – a beautiful bluewater cruiser named Lush – was building her from an owner’s representative point of view. When we were speccing her at the yard in Southampton, something we were all very clear on was that there needed to be a balance. It’s easy to get turned on by putting a load of technology on the boat, but the issues come when it doesnt work and you’re in a remote part of the world, as is often the case with bluewater sailing yachts. You could very easily be in a location that people can’t fly to and may have to wait two weeks for a repair, so we have to make sure our yachts don’t rely too heavily on technology. It’s a balance of how much tech to put onboard without going over the top.
Therefore, at Oyster we certainly embrace technology and innovate, but we look using technology once it’s had a chance to evolve. For example, it’s now common for our boats to have lithium ion batteries, but when they first came out they weren’t as good as they are today. So, I didn’t put them on Lush because the technology simply wasn’t reliable enough, and I knew that if she had a power failure whilst sailing out in the Pacific it would be challenge to say the least! We like to be smart yacht builders, but our vessels still need to be practical for bluewater cruising, and that means building yachts that can go anywhere with no restrictions.
And what about innovation in terms of sails and rigging?
We are constantly looking at how we can do things better onboard, so we are always innovating our masts, rigging, sails, and consulting different companies to make sure we are using the latest materials. Even 20 years ago, sails are not the same as what we have now, and the same goes for masts and rigging. So, we work with a range of suppliers to develop products that are perfectly suited to bluewater cruising vessels, whilst incorporating the very latest fabrics.
Our main focus in all of this is ensuring that our boats remain easy to sail, and this is really important to us. A lot of our boats can be sailed by just two people, which is perfect for our bluewater husband & wife teams. We design them so that in the middle of the ocean if you suddenly encounter 40 knots a breeze, all you have to do is press a couple of buttons, the sails will disappear and you can reduce sail accordingly. We are constantly innovating to make it easier to sail our yachts not just upwind, but also crosswind and downwind.
Oyster has been building iconic bluewater cruising vessels for nearly 50 years now. Do you have any predictions as to how these yachts will change in the next 50?
I think we will see a lot more automation in terms of steering. Do we need a wheel on a sailing yacht? Probably not – realistically you could do everything off a little joystick, or maybe you’ll even steer it off of your iPad or iPhone.
I think we’ll also see a change in boats becoming more green, which is something Oyster is already looking into a lot. We want to be using clean energy as much as possible, perhaps using hybrid engines and generators, but also making the resins used to mould our hulls more environmentally friendly, and looking at where we source materials. Our teak is all responsibly sourced from regenerated forests, but maybe what we’ll see is real teak becoming a thing of the past, with synthetic teak used more and more. It will certainly be interesting to see where the next 50 years takes us.