oyster yachts competitors

Are Oyster Yachts Still Worth The High Price?

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Oyster is a privately owned British boatbuilding company building luxury, go-anywhere sailing yachts since 1973.

The iconic British brand continues to set the standard for luxurious, blue-water cruisers that other brands strive to match.

Over the years, the company has been building progressively bigger and better yachts.

From starting with their first yacht, the UFO 34, the company builds a range of exceptional yachts, from their all-new, award-winning Oyster 495 to their exhilarating flagship Oyster 855 SII.

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oyster yachts competitors

Here’s Why Oyster Yachts Are Worth Their High Price:

Oyster Yachts are the stuff dreams are made of for most blue-water sailors. These yachts are solidly built and beautifully finished and incorporate some of the best modern, innovative marine technologies available.

In addition, Oyster Yachts are worth their high price because even the base models come with an extremely high spec list.

Standard features include automated hydraulics with touchscreen controls, automated in-mast furling, electric winches, and B&G navigation systems – you will only find the best on an Oyster Yacht.

The company has evolved, refined, and become more sophisticated over the last 50 years.

Today’s fleet remains true to Oyster’s founding principles – “pioneering design, uncompromising strength of construction, exhilarating performance, quality finish, and liveaboard luxury.”

[Quote courtesy of oysteryachts.com]

How Much Exactly Do Oyster Boats Cost?

It’s difficult to determine how much exactly an Oyster yacht will cost. Every Oyster yacht is built to order, and a wide array of semi-custom options are available for the discerning new owner.

These include (but are not limited to) hull color, interior cabin layout, choice of wood finish and upholstery, choice of the keel, mast, and boom options, different sail plans, electronics packages, and many more.

However, we have managed to establish new base boat prices, and these are as follows:

Oyster 495 £1.2 million ex VAT
Oyster 565 £1.4 million ex VAT
Oyster 595 £2.3 million ex VAT
Oyster 675 £2.48 million ex VAT
Oyster 745 £4 million ex VAT
Oyster 885 Series II £4.5 million ex VAT

For more detailed information about each of these models, please read our article, ‘How Much Does An Oyster Yacht Cost?’ here.

While an Oyster yacht will never be cheap, it’s worth looking at the secondhand boat market to see what Oyster Yachts are available. You may be able to pick up an older model for a slightly more affordable price.

At the time of writing, yachtworld.com, the top online boating marketplace in the world, had 76 used or secondhand Oyster yachts available.

These range from the smallest and the cheapest, an Oyster 26 from 1979 priced at $17,248 and goes all the way up to over $11 million for a 125-foot Oyster Displacement Sloop built in 2013.

However, it’s important to note that because not too many Oyster yachts have been built (compared to other brands) and because they are a premium product, Oyster yachts retain their value well, so you probably won’t find too many bargains out there.

Do Oyster Yachts Cost More Than Similar Brands?

Oyster Yachts fall into the category of high-end, luxury, go-anywhere sailing yachts. Similar brands include Amel, Hallberg-Rassy, Jeanneau, and Nautor’s Swan.

These brands are known for their luxurious quality, spaciousness, comfort, and general seaworthiness.

But are Oyster Yachts more expensive than these similar brands? Due to the very nature of these high-end, semi-custom, luxury bluewater yachts, new boat prices are difficult to establish.

So, we’ve made a price comparison on similar secondhand models.

Our criteria were to look for similar-sized yachts from each brand and the same or similar year – let’s take a closer look at the results:

Oyster 575 2019 $2,163,697
Amel 55 2018 $1,034,449
Hallberg-Rassy 57 2019 $1,622,636
Jeanneau 58 2018 $798,500
Nautor’s Swan 60 2018 $1,957,409

[Info courtesy of Yachtworld.com]

This quick price comparison indicates that Oyster yachts cost more than similar brands.

However, to establish the true value of each yacht, you would need to compare detailed inventories and the overall condition of each yacht.

Comparing yachts is very unlike comparing cars or vehicles – due to the very nature of semi-custom-built yachts, no two yachts are ever the same, even if they are built by the same factory or come from the same brand.

Why Do People Choose Oyster Over The Competition?

People choose Oyster over the competition because they know they are purchasing a superior quality product – there is no better sailing yacht in the world in this class.

In addition, an Oyster Yacht is built with both comfort and speed in mind. Oyster yachts are world-renowned for having more volume per meter than any other sailing yacht.

Oyster Yachts are internationally recognized and respected for their meticulous build quality, superior performance, and go-anywhere sailing capabilities – you can sail anywhere in an Oyster Yacht and get there quickly.

And all this is backed up with outstanding international customer support.

When you buy an Oyster Yacht, you don’t just buy a boat, you buy into a lifestyle. As an Oyster owner, you become part of the Oyster family with regular invitations to regattas, dinners, and other events.

There are two main regattas per year – one in the Caribbean at Easter and the other in the Mediterranean in September/October. Plus, there are parties and dinners for owners during various boat shows where Oyster participates, including the London, Southampton, and Annapolis boat shows and various other sailing events.

And that’s not all – as an Oyster owner, you will also receive an exclusive invitation to the voyage of a lifetime.

The Oyster World Rally is a fully supported 27,000 nm circumnavigation of the world, which takes you to some of the most remote and beautiful places on the planet.

This exclusive event is only open for Oyster owners to join and is limited to 30 yachts. It’s the ultimate adventure for most sailors and why people will choose Oysters over the competition.

Why Are Oyster Yachts So Expensive? (Explained)

Do Oyster Boats Keep Their Value Better?

As Oyster Yachts are built to such high standards, the rate of deterioration is less than you would expect with other brands of sailing yachts.

This helps Oyster Yachts keep their value better. In addition, Oyster only produces a limited amount of boats each year, so there is a limited supply.

Oyster Yachts are in high demand with entrepreneurs and successful business people, most of whom are seasoned sailors with ambitions to sail the world or race in exclusive regattas.

This demand contributes to Oyster Yachts retaining their value better than other brands.

However, as with any brand of sailing boat, your Oyster Yacht needs to be well maintained to limit its depreciation.

What Are Typical Alternatives To Oyster Boats?

In addition to the brands already mentioned in this article, typical alternatives to Oyster Yachts include Passport Yachts, Tayana Yachts, and X-Yachts.

These brands are known for their stylish good looks, modern and spacious designs, and ocean-going capabilities.

They are comfortable enough to live aboard and robust enough to sail to the far-flung corners of the world.

Do You Pay Full Price, Or Do Dealers Offer Discounts?

First, if you want a new Oyster Yacht, you will need to deal with the Oyster sales team, as they do not have a network of dealers.

This is due to the limited number of boats they build yearly, so they keep everything in-house.

As each Oyster Yacht is built to order and each yacht is semi-custom, you will typically pay full price for your new Oyster Yacht.

However, there are some reports that a 10% discount may be possible in return for allowing the boat to be used as a demo in a boat show.

Plus, if you’re a good negotiator, you may be able to negotiate bigger discounts on any additional equipment you want fitting by the factory.

But if you are looking to buy a secondhand Oyster Yacht, then depending on the owner’s circumstances or their reason for selling, the price may be more negotiable – but don’t count on it.


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Oyster Yachts: A Blue Water Adventure Machine

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10 Best Sailboat Brands (And Why)

10 Best Sailboat Brands | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

December 20, 2023

‍ There's no denying that sailors are certainly a passionate bunch. We’re so passionate about our boats that we always try going for the best sailboats. To make it a lot easier for you, here are the best sailboat brands.

Owning a sailboat is an indulgence that many of us only dream about but very few ever have the privilege of sailing the seas in what they can actually call their own.

While there's nothing wrong with renting a sailboat, the honor of owning one is certain what many sailors dream of.

With a perfectly crafted sailboat as company, gliding through the water, waves, and wind brings some sort of unmatched comfort and peace.

Add this to the fact that sailing takes you far away from the daily hustles and bustles that we've become accustomed to in our daily lives and you'll see why the life of sailing is very appealing to the masses.

But without a proper sailboat, all this fun and the good life of sailing are thrown out of the window.

Contrary to the widespread opinion, owning a sailboat isn't beyond anyone's reach. It's something that we can all achieve. But before getting into that, it's important to know some of the best sailboat brands.

The best sailboat brands will make your life as a sailor a lot easier and more fun. The best sailboat brands have, for decades if not centuries, mastered the art of woodworking. They've dedicated their skills and immense amount of their time to designing and manufacturing nothing but the best quality of sailboats in the industry.

So if you've been looking for the best sailboat brands from all over the world, you've come to the right place. We'll discuss the best of the best, something that will give you a perfect getaway from your normal life.

Table of contents

‍ Must-Have Features for Your Sailboat

Before highlighting the best sailboat brands, it would be appropriate to jog your mind a little with some of the features that must be available in your sailboat.

Choosing a sailboat can sometimes be a matter of compromises. In other words, it's sometimes sensible to accept that a sailboat cannot have all the features that you desire.

As such, it's all about going with a sailboat that has the features that matter to you most.

For this reason, let's look at the most basic features that can make the difference in both safety and comfort while improving your sailing experience.

A Safe and Comfortable Sailing Cockpit

You'll most definitely be spending a huge amount of time in the cockpit. Whether you're keeping watch, trimming sails , helming, or just enjoying the scenery, there's no better place to do all these than from the cockpit. That being said, a good cockpit should have the following.

  • Have a good depth for safety reasons and adequate drainage
  • Should give you a quick and easy access to jammers, cleats, and other important parts of the winch system
  • Should have a seat or seats that are about 35 cm high, 50 to 55 cm wide to provide ideal support
  • The seats should be adjustable to offer maximum comfort and allow you to change your position

GPS Chartplotter

Use a GPS Chartplotter once and your sailing will never be the same without it. It not only allows you to map a course but is also a great way of ensuring that your sailboat exactly follows that course. It also gives you constant updates on ocean conditions, weather conditions , and potential hazards such as deadly currents and sandbars.

A GPS Chartplotter is also an important safety device that can help you in some very critical situations while out there on the water.

For instance, it has a man-overboard button that is essentially meant to allow you to receive coordinates of the exact location should someone fall off your boat.

Electric Winch System

This is an amazing addition to any sailboat. It allows you to sheet a jib even in high and strong winds with a simple press of a button. It also gives you the chance of trimming a mainsail easily while still carry out other essential tasks in the sailboat.

An electric winch system can be of great importance, especially if you're short on crew. This is because it can free up some crew members to carry other important tasks. In other words, it can make duties that would otherwise require more crew members a lot easier.

More importantly, an electric winch system can maintain safety even in the roughest of conditions, thereby preventing you and your crew from getting injured. In essence, an electric winch system will make your sailing a lot safer, less stressful, and more enjoyable.

Reverse Osmosis Watermaker

This is a very valuable accessory, especially if you're going on long sea voyages. You can spend days on end without drinking clean and safe water.

As the name suggests, you can use this accessory to turn seawater into purified drinking water. It uses the reverse osmosis method that's essential not only in removing bacteria and parasites from the water but also in turning the water into purified and safe drinking water.

Even though this device is pricey, it's a great way to mitigate the over-reliance on huge water tanks. All you have to do is to ensure that it's properly maintained and you'll have an endless streak of safe drinking water no matter where you are.

Wide and Clutter-free Deck

While the deck is often an overlooked feature of a sailboat, it can be the difference between a great sailing experience and a stressful one. In essence, the deck of a sailboat should be wide enough and clutter-free.

This is significant as it can enable you to quickly access different parts of your sailboat with hindrance or getting tangled. As you can see, this is particularly important in improving safety and reducing stress.

With that in mind, make sure that the deck is organized in such a way that you can have easy access to sails, masts, and winches.

You should, therefore, avoid sailboats with decks that are designed in such a way that you have to climb on top of the cabin just to access these features. Needless to say, this can be quite unstable and very dangerous especially when conditions are rough.

The Best Sailboat Brands and Why

1. hallberg-rassy.

Hallberg-Rassy is a Swedish yacht maker that's very well-known in the blue water cruising circles for making some of the highest quality and sturdiest sailboats. For many sailors, this is the number one sailboat brand as it offers absolute comfort, utmost safety, and good and easy handling.

This brand is not only synonymous with sturdy construction but you won't worry getting soaking wet while out there on the water. This is because it has a well-protected deck and cockpit, finished with nice woodwork, and has a powerful engine with a big tankage just to ensure that you can go on long voyages.

When designing its sailboats, this brand has made it a norm to add some features that stand out from the rest. For instance, the bowsprit is an integral feature that makes sailing a Hallberg-Rassy quite easy and much enjoyable. This is because it grants easy access to and from the deck. Its electric anchor winches facilitate smooth maneuvering. Even more, its large steering wheels makes it much easier to control the boat even in the roughest of conditions. In essence, this brand has features that provide good control and an extra sense of safety.

Although this brand has evolved over the years, you'll easily recognize it even from a distance. And why is this? A Hallberg-Rassy never goes out of style. This is a unique sailboat brand that has always stayed true to its principles and concept. No matter which part of the world you go, Hallberg-Rassy will remain the undisputed king of blue water cruising.

2. Nautor's Swan

For over 50 years, Nautor's Swan has endlessly raised the sailing levels by designing and manufacturing new sailboat models that not only push the boundaries but also meet that many requirements and demands of sailors across the world. Thanks to its wide range of seaworthy, timeless, elegant, and highly-performing sailboats, the Nautor's Swan remains one of the best if not the best sailboat makers in the world.

Based in Jakobstad, Finland, this brand has severally set the industry standard with its speedy and sleek models such as the Swan 48, Swan 65, Swan 98, Swan 78, and Swan 120. These models have one thing in common: they never compromise on safety. As a brand that puts safety first, it ensures that its models are made of foam-cored glass fiber and reinforced both with carbon-fiber and epoxy. In essence, Nautor's Swan is widely revered for its unmatched seafaring and safety records.

Additionally, Nautor's Swan models are incredibly responsive. You can easily tell this just by the feel of the wheel. This brand has models that will gracefully slice through the biggest of waves with ease. That's not all; the interior of these models that are very comfortable even when the going gets tough. This is, without a doubt, a brand that strives to create self-contained worlds with each model.

3. Beneteau

This is perhaps the most selling sailboat brand in the world. For over a century now, this brand has based its models in a combination of simplicity and performance. This is a brand that will serve you just right across all latitudes and in all circumstances. Whether you prefer the Oceanis Yacht 62 or the Figaro Beneteau 3, this brand will never let you down on all fronts.

This brand revolves around a simple concept of creating a link around the world. From the deck space to its design and light, this brand does everything possible not just to uniformly transform life at sea but also to open doors to new horizons in a very luxurious yet practical way. Its models are designed with clear deck plans, stable hulls, simplified maneuvering and interior materials and equipment that can be easily personalized.

Whether you're looking for a racing sailboat or something that's designed to explore and enjoy the world in the company of friends and family, Beneteau is a true combination of sensations and simplicity. This is a brand that brings to the seas fun, simplicity, smartness, toughness, safety, intuitiveness, as well as dazzling reinvention.

4. Amel Yachts

Based on the ethos of designing and manufacturing comfortable, robust, and easy-to-handle boats, this French brand has, for over five decades, offered sailors and other sailing enthusiasts the perfect opportunity to explore the seas with the utmost quality, comfort, and more importantly, safety.

Using 100% French know-how, this brand has brought to the sailing world some of the best boats such as the Santorini, the Mango, the Super Maramu, and the Maramu. We would be doing this brand total injustice if we said that they're distinctive. Truth be told, there's nothing comparable to an Amel model. Well Amel was and still is, the ultimate standard by which other sailboat models are measured.

From items such as electric winches and furling, to generators, Watermaker , and washing machine down to the simplest of items such as towels. Spare filters, bathrobes, deck brush, and a boat safe, the Amel is in reality with what the real life of a sailor is and should be.

Although some may say that Amel still has room for improvement in terms of specifications and personalization, it cannot be denied that the Amel is a serious brand that designs and manufactures complete boats. With this brand, you'll be guaranteed of a higher degree of reliability, safety, and an edge of fun while out there on the water.

5. Hinckley Yachts

Based in Maine, United States, Hinckley Yachts is a brand that has been building robust, luxury, and safe sailboats for more than 90 years now. In its sailboat class, you'll find several sailboats that have classic shapes, inner strength, dramatic lines, and features that are absolutely essential in dealing with the challenges of the North Atlantic.

This brand has been successful in integrating impeccable craftsmanship with new technologies to ensure that their models always stand out while articulating advanced sailing practices, timeless aesthetic, robust construction, and the utmost safety. Whether you choose the Bermuda 50, the Sou'wester 53 or any model for that matter, you'll never be short of advanced performance based on the best design and technology.

In terms of features, this brand provides sailboat models with modern performance hulls. These hulls are constructed with inner layers of carbon, outer layers of Kevlar, and are aligned with computer-designed load paths. Every feature is designed without compromising comfort.

To this end, this brand offers you a perfect combination of both fun and sail. This brand offers more than just sailing. Instead, it offers a unique sailing experience that's combined with the pure joys of sailing in the blue waters with an ease of ownership and maneuverability.

6. Oyster Yachts

If you've been looking for luxury more than anything else, Oyster Yachts provides you with numerous solutions. This British brand is widely known for manufacturing a wide range of luxury cruising sailing yachts. Its sailboats are among the finest in the world and are immensely capable of taking you to some of the far-flung places in the world without having to worry about high winds and hellish waves.

Whether you choose the iconic Oyster 565 or the immense Oyster 595 you never fall short of experiencing the new world like never before. These are models that will enable you to own your adventure, choose your destination, set your courses, pick your anchorage, and stay safe at all times. If you want to hold the wheel and pull the sail while feeling the tang of salt spray on your face, Oyster Yachts is the way to go.

This is, unquestionably, a brand that's meant for you if you want to explore the seas in comfort, luxury and utmost safety. From craftsmanship, sailboat design, to hull, deck, and keel configurations, everything is designed to allow you to circumnavigate the world in comfort, elegance, and style.

7. Tartan Yachts

Based in Fairport Harbor, Ohio, there's arguably no better to begin your sailing adventures than with a sailboat designed and manufactured by Tartan Yachts. With several award-winning designs and construction, this brand is widely known for providing easy handling, great performance, and an ultimately stable platform.

This brand always strives to deliver a unique and the best possible experience to every sailor. As a brand, Tartan fully understands that every sailor has his/her unique sailing needs. As such every component of their models is designed with engineering levels that guarantee optimum performance, excellent on-deck visibility, and luxurious interior.

From the Tartan 5300, the Tartan 4300, the Tartan 345 to the New 365 and the Fantail, this brand makes it a priority to ensure that its models are among the strongest, lightest, and more importantly, the safest in the sailing industry. In essence, this brand can be ideal if you appreciate performance. It has rewarding sailing features both in narrow water lines and wider passages. Add this to its easy handling and you'll have a top-notch performer in virtually every condition.

8. Catalina Yachts

As one of the most popular boat manufacturers in the world, this American brand is widely revered for building the sturdiest boats that can hold up perfectly well in real-world conditions. These are generally family-oriented boats that are intelligently designed to ensure that your entire family can have fun out there on the water.

Some of the models include the cruiser series such as the Catalina 315, the Catalina 385, the Catalina 425 while the sport series include the Catalina 12.5 Expo, the Catalina 16.5, and the Catalina 14.2 Expo. As the current winner of the "Boat of the Year" Cruising World, you'll rarely go wrong with a Catalina model.

It offers a wide range of sailboat sizes that suits your lifestyle. This brand makes it a priority to ensure that all their models are not only safe but offer the best ownership and sailing experience. If anything, this brand is widely known to have one of the most excellent resale values in the sailing industry.

9. Island Packet Yachts

From the IP 525, the IP 439 to the IP 379, the Island Packet Yachts is a brand that encourages its customers not to keep the world waiting. This brand is meant for sailors who want to explore the world in utmost comfort and safety.

The first thing you'll notice in an IP sailboat is its large aft deck. This is not only perfect for sunbathing but can also serve you well if you want an impromptu dinner with friends and family while out there on the water. The living space is also large enough to carry most of your belongings, which is an added advantage especially if you've been planning to spend longer periods in the seas.

With modern evolution and refinement, as well as proven features, this brand is known to offer sailors maximum comfort, luxury, and safety. You'll have better access to the cockpit, have enough space, and are excellently designed to provide superior seafaring and the best features to enable you to spend extended periods when cruising.

10. Sparkman & Stephens

For more than 90 years, Sparkman & Stephens has been at the forefront of the belief that sailboat excellence goes beyond hull lines and deck plans. Instead, this brand believes in excellent naval architecture, innovation, sophistication, and beauty. This is a brand that has laid the foundation of sailboat as a sport not just in America but all over the world.

These models have graced the world for decades and bring immense pleasure to their owners in terms of innovation, performance, and excellence. Though rooted in tradition, the brand has pushed sophistication, technology, and sailing experience to a whole new level. You'll be a proud owner of the Sparkman & Stephens model.

There you have it; these are the best sailboat brands in the world. Although there are several other sailboat brands to choose from, the-above described brands stand shoulder above others in terms of quality, safety, performances and luxury.

Hopefully, you're at a much better place when it comes to choosing a sailboat that suits your lifestyle, needs, and budget .

Happy sailing!

Related Articles

10 Best Sailboats To Live In

Common Issues With Hallberg-Rassy Sailboats

Common Issues With Catalina Yacht Sailboats

Common Issues With Island Packet Yacht Sailboats

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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Oyster Yachts sails back to profit after remarkable turnaround


The luxury yacht manufacturer sailed into the black with a 29 per cent year-on-year increase in turnover to £56.4 million in 2023. Hadida has invested heavily in the business to guarantee its long-term future.

The company achieved a profitable month in January and expects an overall Q4 profit for the year ending 2024. Recently appointed CEO Ashley Highfield has also highlighted major investments to enhance the customer experience, plus upgrades to the Oyster World Rally.

The company returned to profit following heavy investment in manufacturing facilities, staff and new support services. The company makes blue water sailing yachts; after launching a record 32 yachts in 2022, Oyster maintained full occupancy of all its shipyard’s build bays during FY23.

During that time, it grew staff by a third to increase skills and production capability across its three UK manufacturing sites: Saxon Wharf and Hythe Marine Park in Southampton and Wroxham in Norfolk.

It also expanded its customer services, with a global service network, refit operation, unrivalled after-sales support, crew, and charter services. Hadida, the owner and chair made a £14.5m additional investment to enable the expansion of the business.

This led to a successive record year for production, brokerage sales, and charters, as Oyster looks to continue building market share and consolidate its position as the go-to luxury blue water yachting brand.

The investment in new models, facilities and customer services explains an underlying operating loss of £16.8m in the YE23 accounts – during the fifth year of renewal for the business since Hadida stepped in to save the brand.

Ashley Highfield said: “Margins have continued to grow, and we have achieved positive EBITDA in recent months, which we expect to continue. We are increasing investment in our yachts, with focus on flawless quality and craftsmanship, to ensure they deliver unforgettable adventures where lifelong memories are made.

“We are confident Oyster is now in a strong position and has the resources and facilities to service our vessels world-wide and provide owners with truly personalised support.

“Investing heavily in the founding principles of Oyster Yachts is translating into stronger business results, whilst offering owners a lifetime of adventure, backed up by truly world-class service and support.”

With the Oyster World Rally 2026-27 already fully subscribed, it has recently announced the Oyster World Rally 2028-29. With only 30 places, demand is expected to be high.

The Oyster World Rally is a unique, fully supported circumnavigation of the planet, covering 27,000 nautical miles, 27 destinations, and 16 months in a single adventure, exclusively for Oyster owners. Oyster Yachts have completed over 20 million blue water sailing miles and over 100 circumnavigations.

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Yachting World

  • Digital Edition

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Oyster 495 review: an impressive smaller Oyster

  • Toby Hodges
  • September 29, 2022

An exclusive three-day test on the new baby of the Oyster range, the Oyster 495, shows that big things can come in (slightly) smaller sizes, says Toby Hodges

Product Overview

Manufacturer:, price as reviewed:.

Good things come to those who wait. After tirelessly chasing the breeze for over 100 miles, we found our just rewards. It was a hazy, moody morning as I rose from the privileged comfort of the aft berth of the new Oyster 495. Twin thrusters were pushing us effortlessly off the dock in Guernsey, our late night stopover, as I took my coffee from the galley espresso machine up on deck, noting how quickly and easily I was beginning to enjoy such creature comforts.

Once out past the harbour arms, white caps indicated a solid breeze. The sails were unfurled at the push of a button and Carpe Diem , Oyster 495 number one, began to heel and power up properly, as if finally set free. This was the moment for me that Oyster’s latest design came alive and transformed into what is arguably the definitive modern day luxury distance cruiser.

It has been a long, highly publicised build up to the launch of Oyster’s first boat fully conceived in the four years under software entrepreneur Richard Hadida’s tenureship. This is a model the CEO has talked about from the start, one to widen the luxury brand’s net and bring more, and younger, people on board. It seems that strategy is already working, as, out of the 15 Oyster 495’s already sold around the world, only two are to existing Oyster owners.

This is also the smallest yacht the Southampton firm has developed from scratch since 2005, and warranted a new yard in Hythe to take production in-house and build up to a schedule of 12 Oyster 495s a year.

oyster yachts competitors

Sailing out past The Needles. Photo: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

49ft for the 49th year

This is only a 49 in name though, not in the looks, volume or price tag. The Oyster 495 is as much a part of the small superyacht style of Oyster as its last few launches from the Oyster 565 to the Oyster 885, all by Humphreys Yacht Design.

First impressions centre on its size: the deck space and internal volume that all the beam and freeboard height creates. Yet while the duck egg vinyl wrap intentionally sets off a vibrant aesthetic, it’s the rest of the renowned quality and styling on the boat that really hits home.

The integral boarding ladders which fold down from the guardrails are optional but arguably essential, though once aboard you quickly realise how easy it is to move around the deck and through the superb cockpit.

oyster yachts competitors

With sprayhood removed and dark, stiff sails trimmed, the 495 in powerful performance mode against the Sark tide. Photo: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

Below decks you’ll find a clever new layout which, for me, makes the galley a star of the show and helps ensure the aft cabin, with its views and space, is best in class.

Once I discovered the deck stowage, engine room space and mechanical layout, I was convinced this could be a serious world cruiser and was excited about the chance to spend proper time aboard, a long weekend-style mini cruise, to see how it performs and how practical it is.

Oyster reserved our three-day slot aboard the first Oyster 495 during its ‘world tour’, in which it is premiering this new model in the Baltic and Mediterranean.

With a ridge of high pressure settling over the south coast, the obvious option to find wind was to take the north-easterly across the Channel. We met a spell of glorious summer conditions once out of the western Solent, sailing close-hauled over flat water at 7 knots in 10 knots localised seabreeze, before we pointed our bows across the Channel and settled in for many hours of reaching with and without asymmetric spinnaker, or motorsailing when the wind dropped. With double figure apparent wind speeds you can reliably sail at a speed similar to or exceeding that of the engine at cruising revs, meaning you can passage plan at 8 knots.

Although the standard Oyster 495 comes very complete, the test boat was equipped with plenty of optional extras including a carbon mast and in-mast furling carbon spectra sails to help bolster performance. As I was to discover in the Channel Islands , the boat still likes to be powered up before you get much communication on the helm, and in the lighter breezes I had to watch the numbers to avoid wandering off course.

oyster yachts competitors

The robust fixed bowsprit neatly integrates anchor roller and keeps the spinnaker tack clear of the headstay. Photo: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

Initially, the helm felt overly heavy, despite the dual rudders. Our skipper, Oyster’s CCO Paul Adamson, was quick to access the steering gear through the pedestals and after some tweaking the result was slightly lighter. However, long geared linkage of centre cockpit steering to twin rudders will always mean hopes for direct feedback need to be measured accordingly.

Built for breeze and ease

To have extra breeze the following day was transformational. With the true wind in the teens or more The Oyster 495 comes alive. It’s powerful and stable, exactly what you want from a distance cruiser.

It was also a really impressive display of how easy it is for one person to manage. I sailed Carpe Diem right into Sark’s Le Grand Greve cove, using the pedestal push buttons to furl the jib, then the main and finally to command the windlass to lower chain as we glided to a halt with no engine or any other hands required.

The push button ease with which you can manage this boat is a big deal. Three new clients of boats in build have converted from power to give sail a go, says Adamson. That said, they’re expensive options, with retractable bow and stern thrusters alone costing around £40,000.

oyster yachts competitors

Clear views for my watch during last light crossing the Channel. Photo: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

While a standard Oyster 495 has an aluminium rig with electric in-mast furling, Oyster has been working with Seldén on a new hydraulic in-mast furling system for this optional £140,000 carbon rig. The test boat had a full hydraulics package to serve the outhaul, vang, mainsheet and backstay, the twin compact pumps of which need comparatively little oil and are remarkably quiet (good for not waking the off watch). The push button system is being developed and uses a smart pressure release mechanism to prevent accidental overloading.

That afternoon was full glamour: sunny sailing in a puffy 15-20+ knots, which meant gusts in the mid- to late-20s over the deck. With some heel induced, the Oyster 495 stabilises and powers up. On the times we did really press we only managed to stall on a couple of occasions in the higher gusts and even then the round-up came very gently, politely inviting you to depower the main.

In general, speeds remained in the high 8s when close-hauled, rising into the 9s when we freed up a bit more, while we nudged double figures broad reaching in flat water and in stronger gusts. Around the 9-knot mark is the comfort zone, with comfort the byword – the 495 promotes a lot of confidence to keep sail up, without shipping water or overloading, and has a reassuring, forgiving motion through waves.

oyster yachts competitors

Spacious cockpit, table and long benches encourage alfresco dining. Photo: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

The helm stations are typical for modern Oysters in that they’re relatively high up to give clear sightlines from the wheels and headroom below decks. Add to that the freeboard height and you may wonder if it feels exposed. However the deep footwells with angled sides really suit standing at heel, while most will realistically engage autopilot and seek cockpit protection during lengthy watches anyway.

First class layout

I took to helming seated outboard on the coaming, which feels a more natural position at heel than trying to reach forward from the helm seat. The pedestals are well designed, particularly the grab handles each side, although a smaller or repositioned throttle lever would be prudent to prevent consistent snagging.

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U-shaped galley suits working at sea, while a deep, angled footwell proves useful at the helm. Photo: Waterline Media

The positioning of the primary winches has also been very well considered, on a raised step each side outboard of the coamings and perfectly in reach of the helm. It’s also a useful step out from the cockpit to the side deck.

The standard block and winch is installed as well as the hydraulically controlled mainsheet, showing a system which can also easily be adjusted from the helm. I appreciated how a preventer line is rigged on each side of the boom, with clutches on deck allowing this to be set up on one side and the tack line on the other.

The intelligent, practical design elements continue around the clean decks, including genoa sheet leads kept neatly inboard alongside the coachroof. Reverse sheer helps generate headroom below without needing to extend the coachroof forward of the mast, while removable dorades and cages help keep the foredeck flush.

A quick swim at the anchorage and a hot shower on the bathing platform was necessary to prove the benefits of the new cassette platform design. An electric ram pushes it out horizontally aft from the lazarette to extend deck space. The full beam lazarette itself is enormous, and while the sail locker is certainly beneficial it could use a larger hatch as it was a squeeze to try and get the gennaker through.

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Plenty of instrument and switchboard space at the navstation. Photo: Waterline Media

The cockpit is perhaps Oyster’s best yet relative to its size. It provides excellent protection, particularly under the sturdy sprayhood with its large clear panels. The huge table makes it clear this is where the majority of meals will be taken, with deep benches easily long enough to seat eight or to lie down on. While much design work has clearly gone into the flowing lines, I found the backrest angle a little severe, so cushions might be a wise extra.

We eventually had to wrench ourselves away from the stunning Sark anchorage to try to catch favourable tides back across the channel. Sailing to the Casquets under sunset we met a dying breeze in the Channel for the long motor and night watches across the shipping lanes.

At cruising revs we clocked 8.5 knots at 2,100rpm burning just 6lt per hour of the tank’s 880lt. Noise levels were very acceptable down below too, thanks in part to some excellent insulation. Adamson puts this know-how down to Oyster’s larger yachts and says a key is that the acoustic sandwich insulation used is all glued with no fastenings that can transmit sound.

oyster yachts competitors

The passageway aft helps allow for superb engine access. Photo: Waterline Media

Life at heel

Spending proper time aboard on passage is the ideal way to assess the practicality and comfort of the interior in use and at heel.

In terms of styling and quality of finish, today’s Oyster is top drawer. Rather than the typical passageway galley seen on a centre cockpit model this size, the 495 has the beam for a seaworthy U-shaped galley to port, while the starboard passageway provides stowage space and helps open up access to the engine room. It’s a one-fits-all layout, but a solution the yard is understandably delighted with. Smart features seen on the latest larger models are also included, such as the formidable lighting system throughout and the digital switching touchscreen monitors which clearly show and interrogate all systems.

Sturdy handholds lead you down six deep steps to a saloon bathed in light and natural ventilation, the latter from the large, forward-opening coachroof windows. The table on the test boat could be lowered to extend the starboard sofa into a double or daybed. It also has a handrail which extends out, which is needed at heel as there’s a large open area to navigate across – a longitudinal rail on the deckhead would make sense here.

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it’s hard to believe you can get such a stateroom at this length – the sea views it provides are incomparable. Photo: Waterline Media

The adjoining galley is excellent, ideally shaped for working at heel, with abundant natural light. The fact that we as a crew all offered to cook or make drinks so often said plenty. Although modestly sized, with relatively compact outboard lockers and only a half height fridge aft, extra optional fridge/freezer space can be chosen here, in the cockpit and particularly in the passageway. Practical elements include the inboard sink and surround acrylic work surfaces with radiused upstands and an integrated bin. If being picky, a larger porthole to the cockpit to pass drinks through would be handy.

A generous chart table and plentiful space for instruments encourages passage planning and quiet study in the navstation. The coachroof windows extend aft to encourage extra light both here and in the galley, but the navstation is too low to enjoy that benefit. I found it comparatively dark and would prefer to see out more, but the large computer monitor was deemed to be more useful than a hull port here.

oyster yachts competitors

Forward cabin is spacious and light with good views too. Photo: Waterline Media

Aft stateroom cabins have long been an Oyster calling card and the Oyster 495 continues that tradition to the extent this is arguably the best you can get in 50ft. A step in the cockpit helps create a wide passage forward of the berth with 6ft 4in/193cm headroom.

It’s taller still in the adjoining heads, a clever design with an area sculpted out from between the engine room and galley to create a proper shower stall.

From the stowage, both in cedar-lined wardrobes, drawers and small lockers around the berth, to the superb lighting, overhead escape hatches, blinds and ventilation, it all smacks of quality. The vertical hull portlights steal the show, inviting prime sea views, especially from the privacy of the sofa to port.

Accommodation forward of the saloon comprises a compact Pullman, ideal for kids or a delivery crew, and a generous guest double. These share a good sized heads and separate shower, although with no wet locker, foul weather gear will likely end up cohabiting the shower too.

oyster yachts competitors

Working at the chart table at night. Photo: Waterline Media

Once again it’s the headroom and light that stands out in the forward cabin, the latter thanks to long twin overhead hatches with mushroom vents plus hull ports.

For a yacht which is so nice and light below decks, and which has such fine sea views from the cabins, my main issue is that you can’t actually see the sea properly from the saloon, galley or navstation. The coachroof windows are too high to see out of when standing in the saloon, the hull ports too low when seated.

It can be argued that a prime benefit of Oyster’s long favoured semi-raised saloon is that it’s low enough to adjoin the surrounding areas and high enough to house the large polyethylene fuel and water tanks, together with the battery bank, below the sole. The test boat has standard 800Ah gel batteries, sealed in airtight containers and ventilated overboard by fan, while all systems including the aircon can run off the inverter.

oyster yachts competitors

Plenty of deck space to enjoy Sark’s west coast anchorage. Photo: Waterline Media

Further aft, the grey water runs into the deep keel stub, a smart idea to centralise weight in otherwise wasted space. The stub also helps keep the rest of the bilge dry, holding liquid in one place, with strumboxes used for the bilge pumps to help prevent blockage. Some of the infused glassfibre construction and carbon reinforced stringers are visible here – a solid laminate with Vinylester outer skin is used below the waterline.

Where Oyster’s larger models have a workshop cabin leading into the engine room, the Oyster 495 doesn’t have the space for this, yet the layout solution here and access to the engine room are superb. Twin doors open out to reveal the motor mounted in the centre of the boat, at max beam, a saildrive to negate shaft space and allow for an 8kW genset accessed via its own door immediately aft.

Opposite is excellent stowage in the passageway, including freezer and washing machine, with optional 110lt/hour watermaker below the sole.

oyster yachts competitors

Modern hull shape buys plenty of volume aft. Photo: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

Benefits of a prototype

Our voyage was temporarily paused after a leak was traced to a cracked skin fitting in the lazarette, a watertight compartment aft. It was a fitting for the emergency boarding ladder, a practical device which allows the release of a pushpit-mounted soft ladder from the water, but one that was mistakenly installed with an incorrect part. We are told it is not a feature on other models and all subsequent Oyster 495s will be fitted with a bronze or TruDesign skin fitting.

Lazarettes are often decked out with a single level floor, yet here Oyster understandably wanted to make as much of the cavernous stowage space available as possible. It’s stowage world cruisers will love, but fitting storage units to take individual boxes might help prevent loose items sliding around pipework and steering gear. The incident highlighted the prime value of having a model that is thoroughly tested before going into full production.

If you enjoyed this….

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Credit to Oyster for doing a full tour with this first boat and for encouraging extensive trials. The longer you spend aboard any yacht, the more likely it may appeal but equally the more chance there is to find fault. Most niggles I picked out seemed to be in hand, although a larger sail locker hatch would be on my wishlist, while bluewater sailors may wish for a wet hanging locker. This might be a small mollusc by Oyster’s modern standards, but it’s one big pearly shellfish for most of us. The yard has managed to include so many of its big boat features into a 16m yacht which can be handled by a couple without crew. It’s a lot of money, but that includes an impressively full spec and the prestige club element of buying into a brand which offers renowned service and a prize draw in its world rally. With a draught under 2.3m (or 1.83m with shoal keel option), the 495 can not only take you across an ocean in supreme comfort but it can then squeeze into shallow harbours. It is slightly heavier with less sail power than some competitors and won’t suit those doing lots of lightwind helming, however, it has a high, powerful and forgiving shape for tradewind sailing. For liveaboard voyaging in a luxury monohull of this size, the 495 sets a new standard.

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Fairline Yachts Competitors or Alternatives

Fairline yachts's top competitors include azimut yachts, sunseeker and oyster yachts..

Fairline Yachts's company profile

Russell Currie

Managing director.

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Fairline Yachts's Competitor - Azimut Yachts logo

Margarete Feichtner

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Andrea Frabetti

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Fairline Yachts's Competitor - Princess Yachts logo

Antony Sheriff

Chairman & ceo, fairline yachts vs azimut yachts.

Azimut Yachts is the top competitor of Fairline Yachts. Azimut Yachts is headquartered in Avigliana, Tuscany, and was founded in 1969. Azimut Yachts competes in the Internet Software field. Azimut Yachts generates 283% the revenue of Fairline Yachts.

Fairline Yachts VS Sunseeker

Sunseeker is perceived as one of Fairline Yachts's biggest rivals. Sunseeker was founded in Poole, England} in 1969. Like Fairline Yachts, Sunseeker also operates in the Retail industry. Compared to Fairline Yachts, Sunseeker generates $277.5M more revenue.

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The 8 Best New British Yachts on the Water, From Sunseeker to Fairline

Quality among the top u.k. builders is always a given. it's the range of yacht designs that may surprise you..

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Pearl 72

As an island, boats have always been the lifeblood of Great Britain. And many British yacht builders continue to uphold the country’s proud naval and maritime traditions. While there are a handful of superyacht builders, the UK isn’t known for eye-wateringly huge megayachts or avant-garde design—though that has changed as its largest international brands compete with the style-obsessed Ferretti Group and Azimut brands.

But what you do find with the Brits is well engineered vessels with a high level of attention to detail in both the interior and exterior design. From semi-custom motoryacht builders like Princess and Sunseeker to the rarefied realm of a highly sought-after Pascoe limousine, there’s something here for nearly every yachtsman.

And thanks to enduring popularity, there is nearly always a British-built sailboat from the Oyster yard, somewhere just over the horizon. In fact, whether you’re cruising the waters of the Caribbean, New England, or the South of France, you’ll find U.K. brands along with the highest luxury offerings from Italy and Northern Europe.

Here are seven of Britain’s finest, newest, and most noteworthy vessels on the water.

Project Fox, Pendennis Shipyard

oyster yachts competitors

This 114-foot explorer yacht, overseen by project manager Burgess and in build at the Pendennis shipyard in Falmouth, was designed around the owner’s wishes. It has a rugged exterior that will be paired with a bright, contemporary interior by QLondon Design. The owner told Robb Report that he plans to cruise off-grid to remote areas like Norway for heli-skiing with his family and friends (thus necessitating five large staterooms). But he also wanted family-friendly features like a sun terrace, wine lobby, open-air barbecue, and DJ station. Of course, the real breakthrough here: The open stern, measuring more than 1,100 square feet can carry a large complement of toys and tenders, but also scientific equipment (the interior has space for a modular lab) for when the yacht is hosting research scientists. “Flexible cabins and connectivity are key,” said the owner.

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The ubiquitous model of the Pearl lineup, the 72 received a creative new interior design earlier this year with the addition of a stateroom that gives it two master suites. The U.K. yard has always been high on haute design, offering different palettes by British interior designer Kelly Hoppen, but this double-master suite idea is a first for this size of motoryacht. The yard has recently won awards for the naval architecture of its 95, which approaches superyacht status, and it will be launching a new 85-foot flybridge next year.

Fairline Targa 40

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Fairline is also among England’s internationally renowned yacht brands, famous for seaworthy hulls and top-tier creature comforts. It hasn’t built yachts as large as competitors Princess and Sunseeker but has been equally creative with the design. The new Targa 40’s cockpit is a case in point. It has an enticing exterior layout, with the cockpit featuring a foldout terrace to starboard and a U-shaped dining settee to port facing the rest of the deck, not to mention the two sun lounges on the stern. The 40 is effectively a dayboat, but with two staterooms, it also works as a family weekender. There’s a master in the forepeak and guest cabin amidships which is best suited for children. The galley below decks is also very functional. Top speed for the Targa is 36 knots with the optional Volvo Penta D6-380 upgrades.

Princess Y80

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Along with Sunseeker, Princess Yachts is the other heavyweight of British yacht building. These cruisers and motoryachts have proven to be perennial favorites on both sides of the Atlantic. The Y80 debuting at this year’s Cannes Yachting Festival looks to continue the tradition. The Y80 brings to the table an “infinity cockpit” with a glass transom and modular furniture for multiple setups. It also has a flybridge that spans about two-thirds of the yacht’s nearly 84-foot length, effectively creating a legitimate third deck. The Y80’s owner’s stateroom is amidships and full beam, while it has a VIP in the forepeak. Two other guest cabins are to port and starboard. The Y80 has an impressive top speed of 30 knots, but at 10 knots the range is an even more impressive 1,000 nautical miles.

Cockwells Duchy Sport

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The 37-foot Duchy Sport from the Cockwells’ yard in Cornwall, famous internationally for its custom tenders, is designed for watersports enthusiasts. This Sport offers multiple towing points for waterskiing, wakeboarding, wakesurfing and tubing, with interior space for nine guests. Bow and cockpit sunpads will be popular spots for tanning, while a Bimini covers the amidships. Standout features include a wetbar, retractable swim ladder, bowthruster with joystick control, and of course ample water-toy stowage. The Duchy Sport comes with twin 370 hp Yanmar 8LVs which can get it up to a top speed of 42 knots—a speed befitting of this model’s name. Cockwells is also building a new Duchy 60, a stylized motoryacht that should rival Downeast offerings from U.S. builders Hinckley and Malaysian builder Grand Banks.

oyster yachts competitors

The Oyster 495 is a 52-foot, 8-inch sailing yacht that entered the U.S. market earlier this year. A new design from the keel up, the U.K. builder was thinking global circumnavigation, or at least serious offshore cruising, from the onset. The yacht is also meant to be able to be singlehanded by a capable sailor. The plumb bow and teak decks imbue the 495 with a definite saltiness with performance and aesthetics. The cabin is noteworthy for being both ergonomic and well-lit. Reported top speeds for the 495 crest the 10-knot mark under sail, while a 100 hp Yanmar diesel pushes it along happily at 9.5 knots.

Sunseeker Superhawk 55

oyster yachts competitors

Sunseeker is one of England’s brands that has a global following. For good reason. The Poole builder has a range of vessels that extend from 38 to 161 feet. Sunseeker is known for good oceangoing performance and creative design. The Superhawk 55 is a reimagining of the Superhawks that enjoyed popularity with performance enthusiasts in the 1990s and Aughts before being discontinued in 2009. Sunseeker introduced the Superhawk 38 in 2020, which had echoes of its go-fast past. This 55, however, is more of a performance cruiser than a day boat. With twin Volvo Penta IPS950s the new Superhawk has a very respectable top end of 38 knots and a feature even Miami Vice hot-boat aficionados will appreciate—slow-speed maneuverability offered by pod propulsion. An aggressively raked profile complemented by stiletto-sharp hullside windows augment the Superhawk’s sporty vibe.

Pascoe E-Limousine Electric Tender

oyster yachts competitors

Pascoe tenders reside in the garages of some of the world’s biggest and most glamorous superyachts, thanks to the yard’s dedication to customization. The E-Limousine is the builder’s first fully electric vessel, the result of six years of R&D. Top speed is reported to be an impressive 40 knots, with a range of 60 nautical miles at a fast cruise of 20 knots. The builder says not only is this boat greener than a traditional tender but will also offer a smoother, quieter ride thanks to the construction used to mitigate vibration.

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The Oyster Palma Regatta back with a bang

Oyster palma regatta 2022

Oyster Palma Regatta 2022

The 2022 oyster palma regatta was held at the real club nàutico de palma (rcnp), mallorca, with 23 teams from 10 different nations competing for event honours across three days of action-packed racing..

This annual event, which welcomes Oyster Yachts of all sizes, is now in its 44th edition.

Considered one of the highlights of the sailing calendar for many Oyster owners and a perfect ending to the summer season in the Mediterranean, it certainly didn’t disappoint. The racing was split between bay racing ‘around the cans’, and coastal racing along the beautiful southern Mallorcan coastline to give the fleet a variety of sailing and scenery to enjoy.

2022 Event Gallery

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In Class 1 it was 885-01 Lush who came out on top overall as Richard Hadida, owner and CEO of Oyster Yachts, dominated the largest of the four classes competing.

Paul Adamson, who skippered Lush and is Oyster’s CCO, commented: “We’ve had an absolute blast across the three days of racing. There has been some tremendous racing, and we have enjoyed a real mix of conditions from champagne sailing on day one to rain and tricky conditions on the final day of the regatta.”

The first two short races around the cans in the bay of Palma on day one was fantastic! The first race was 18 miles long, the second race 12 miles long with a good solid 20-25 knots of breeze and sunshine. Class 1 had six 80 ft boats racing which is a first at an Oyster regatta and it provided fierce competition across all four races.”

Adamson continued: “The Passage Races from Palma to Andratx on day two and then back to Palma on day three are exactly what Oysters are designed to do – sail long distances through bluewater.”

In Class 2, 655-15 Blow from Denmark demonstrated their skill across the three days to claim the overall event victory ahead of 675-03 Chione. 625-08 Peregrine Falcon took event honours in Class 3 after a close battle with rival 625-06 Papillon, whilst one of the newest models in the regatta, 595-06 Mastegot, delivered an exceptional performance in her inaugural event to claim the crown in Class 4.

Video Highlights

Watch all the action unfold from the Oyster Palma Regatta 2022

Registration Day

Millie Bolingbroke, Client Experience Lead at Oyster Yachts, added: “The range of Oyster Yachts and crews taking part this year has been wonderful to see, and just shows the spirit of Oyster Regattas and the chance to come together as the Oyster ‘family’. The atmosphere both on and off the water was amazing and it was fantastic to see the Oyster family back together once again enjoying themselves.”

Lewmar, Yanmar, Dolphin Sails and Hall Spars were the official Regatta partners for 2022 and were at the event supporting owners on the dock and onboard during races with their service teams. The Oyster Palma Regatta, was for the third time, run as a Sailors for the Sea Clean Regatta, with competitors and organisers working closely with the RCNP to minimise the impact of the event on the environment.

Real-life adventure, sailing insights and everything Oyster Yachts.

The Oyster 495 EYOTY

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Oyster World Rally Mega Nav v2


Entries for the Oyster World Rally 2028-29 are now open. Embark on the sailing adventure of a lifetime

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Discover this exceptional late model 825 with a unbeatable spec and a bespoke layout..

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Personalised care, unforgettable experiences and lifelong yacht support, oyster world rally.

Oyster World Rally Mega Nav 1 v2


Embark on the sailing adventure of a lifetime. entries are now open for the oyster world rally 2028-29.

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oyster yachts competitors

All eyes on Gloucester for annual Greasy Pole contest

T he annual Greasy Pole contest during St. Peter's Fiesta in Gloucester, Massachusetts, brings the attention of the state and beyond to the Cape Ann fishing city.

The Greasy Pole is a 40-foot telephone pole that is slathered in biodegradable grease — along with other items such as banana peels, orange rinds, eggs and fish guts — and attached to a 12-foot-by-12-foot platform that stands about 200 yards off Pavilion Beach.

The objective of each competitor is to make it across the greased-up pole and snatch a flag that is attached to the end of it. While the moments of triumph are fun to watch, the failed attempts — some of them very painful — are equally as entertaining.

During the first round of walks, called the courtesy round, competitors are not allowed to touch the flag. After that first round is complete, the flag is fair game.

St. Peter's Fiesta is a combination of a religious festival and a community celebration in Gloucester.

Saint Peter is known as the patron saint of fishermen and St. Peter’s Fiesta is a celebration of Gloucester's commercial fishing and faith, which has grown to become a city-wide party including a 5K race, a carnival and the iconic greasy pole contest.

The Greasy Pole contest started in 1931 and is almost as old as St. Peter's Fiesta itself, which started in 1927.

The event usually takes two to four rounds for someone to win, but sometimes it can go as long as six or seven rounds. Once a contestant captures the flag, they swim to the beach with all the other contestants.

The first two days of competition on Friday and Saturday, are for those lucky enough to get their names on the select list. Sunday's competition, however, is made up of a field exclusively of past champions, protégés who walk for former champions and Saturday's winner.


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A F50 catamarans sails by the Statue of Liberty.

F1 on the Water? Yachts Race at the Statue of Liberty.

Thousands of spectators turned out over the weekend for SailGP, which brought a high-speed competition, and lots of champagne, to the New York Harbor.

The catamarans used to compete in SailGP races cost about $5 million. Credit... Dolly Faibyshev for The New York Times

Supported by

Alyson Krueger

By Alyson Krueger

  • Published June 24, 2024 Updated June 26, 2024

At 11:30 a.m. Sunday morning, with New York City under a heat advisory, a gaggle of sailing enthusiasts, dressed in polo shirts and summer dresses, boarded a ferry for Governors Island to watch towering F50 catamarans race along the skyline of Lower Manhattan and in front of the Statue of Liberty.

It was the second day and the finals of the New York Sail Grand Prix, part of SailGP, the growing international sailing competition in which teams, grouped by country, compete in $5 million boats that race up to 60 miles per hour.

The competition was founded in 2018 by Larry Ellison, the tech billionaire, and Russell Coutts, a five-time America’s Cup winner, to build a mainstream sailing league. Unlike America’s Cup, which occurs roughly every four years, SailGP has events around the globe throughout the year, allowing audiences to follow along.

“It’s this high-adrenaline, high-speed sort of racing product right in front of you,” Mr. Coutts said.

A crowd of spectators sit together on a bunch of stands. Three people hold up white letters that say USA.

Organizers and fans are comparing the competition to Formula 1 racing on the water, which also has billionaire and celebrity backers and flashy backdrops including St. Tropez and Dubai. Now in its fourth season, the number of SailGP teams and events has doubled. The races, filled with Olympic sailors and state-of-the-art catamarans, are broadcast throughout the world and attract millions of viewers, according to organizers.

The sold-out race was held at the tip of Manhattan. Thousands of spectators gathered to watch the race by boat or from Governors Island, a 172-acre island in New York Harbor. (Tickets started at $85 for the grandstand.)

A private tent on a paved area by the water was reserved for team owners and invited ticket holders. There was sushi and dumplings and tea service catered by the Plaza.

The teams were spread around the lounge, marked by flags. Lindsey Vonn, the Olympic ski racer, is on the board of directors for the team from the United States.

“I love speed and adrenaline, so when the opportunity presented itself it was a no-brainer,” Ms. Vonn said in a text message. She attended the race live on Saturday.

On Sunday, the races started around 1 p.m., prompting many guests to put down their champagne and Aperol spritzes and approach the edge of the water to take in the sailing.

Unlike in Formula 1, where a spectator can see only a short stretch of the track at a time, all of SailGP’s racing happens in a tight area in full view of the crowd.

The event is a series of three short races (each one lasts about 15 minutes) in which the boats circle the course multiple times, depending on the wind conditions.

For the boat to turn, 32 functions have to be performed by the team in unison. The catamarans are close enough to shore to see the sailors — there are usually six on each boat — in action.

Jennifer Falvey, 63, a real estate agent, had traveled from Woodstock, Vt., for the event after hearing it about it from a friend. “The boats are just so sexy,” she said.

Daniela Forte, who came with her husband from Westport, Conn., was struck by the speed.

“I don’t have a sailing background, and I had never heard of SailGP before this event, but it’s kind of an amazing idea,” she said. “Sailing has always felt like something you had to do, not just something you can watch, but this is amazing.”

An hour and a half after the first race started, the team from New Zealand was declared the winner (a television broadcaster announced: “The Kiwis have conquered Manhattan.”) The top three contenders are now New Zealand, Australia and Spain — ahead of the season finals in San Francisco in the middle of July.

Then sailors, still wet from the water, filled the lounge for “Apres Sail.” Hundreds of people remained in the private lounge for hours, snacking on fresh plates of pasta and freshly shucked oysters.

Despite the stifling, 90-degree temperatures the party continued until late afternoon. Dance music blared over the loudspeakers, fans mingled with the sailors, and at least one bar ran out of champagne.

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