The latest of Oyster’s sixth generation designs to hit the water is a beautifully crafted long distance yacht with impeccable sailing performance, along with bright, spacious and thoughtfully arranged accommodation.
Oyster’s latest models break with a number of the company’s long-held traditions. For a start all have twin rudders in place of the skeg hung foils that were almost a trademark for three decades. Twin rudders allow for a broader hull in the after sections, creating more space both on deck and in the aft cabin. They also improve handling and performance, especially reaching and downwind courses. The foredeck ahead of the deck saloon is now flush, which gives the boat cleaner lines and allows for a better view from the saloon.
Improvements in construction technology and the use of more uni-directional rovings mean this boat is roughly three tonnes lighter than the previous Oyster 655, yet it has a longer waterline length and significantly more internal volume. That translates into both faster passage speeds and more spacious accommodation. See a First Look Video of the yacht below.
This is the company's first boat with the option of having the master cabin forward of the main bulkhead, although our test boat had the traditional owners suite aft. This cabin benefits from Oyster’s signature three vertical windows on each side, which add enormously to the amount of natural light in the boat, while also providing an excellent view of the outside world. The three other cabins include a small twin with bunk beds aft of the navigation station, a double forward of the main bulkhead, and a large VIP suite in the bow. Alternatively a pair of almost equally sized double cabins can be specified in place of the smaller cabin and VIP suite. Crew accommodation can be incorporated right forward, with separate access from the foredeck.
The large galley has all the conveniences you would expect of a very well equipped domestic kitchen. The specification includes Corian worktops, deep fiddles and a big fridge freezer, plus room for a microwave, washer dryer and cooker hood if required. The navigation station, on the starboard side of the boat just ahead of the companionway, is equally well appointed.
The most impressive area is without doubt the saloon, which spans the full width of the yacht, with a settee on the port side and dining area to starboard. Three further vertical hull windows each side improve the view when you’re seated, while adding to the natural light from the big coach roof windows and overhead hatches. Oyster offers a very wide range of timber and upholstery finishes. Our test boat was fitted out in a stunning combination of limed American white oak with walnut cabin soles and white Alcantara upholstery. Examples of attention to detail abound, including neat fibre-optic lights moulded into the carbon companionway steps and cedar lined lockers.
The flush deck creates an clear and clean arrangement that looks great. The seating area at the front of the cockpit has space for up to 10 people and there are also large corner benches on each of the pushpits, well aft of any sailing action, with space for a further three or four people each side. The boat is also available in an extended transom version that adds more space on deck as well as a tender garage that will take a RIB of up to 3.4m.
All sail handling, other than halyards, takes place aft of the helm stations. As standard the boat is equipped with an all-furling sail plan, which minimises the need for any deck work. To help keep the aft part of the cockpit clear of lines there’s no mainsheet traveller and the optional captive mainsheet winch also eliminates the tail of the mainsheet.
Further breaks with the company’s long-standing traditions include composite outboard chain plates and non-overlapping headsails. There’s also a removable inner forestay, tensioned by an under deck hydraulic ram, for storm sails and heavy weather jibs. This is an increasingly common arrangement on recent designs that provides a range of easy options for efficient sail plans over a wide range of conditions. Alternatively owners can specify a more conventional cutter rig, or a smaller self tacking jib.
Higher performance options include in boom furling, with a captive main halyard winch that means the sail can be raised and lowered by pressing buttons at the helm stations. Upgrades from the standard sails include the panelled North laminate suit fitted to our test boat.
Our test boat was hull number one, which had just arrived in Palma, Majorca after her delivery from the UK. She was still looking in as new condition, despite having sailed more than 1,600 miles and having been exposed to the public at both the Southampton and Düsseldorf boat shows. Maximum speed on the delivery was over 17 knots and the crew reported the boat sailed in most conditions and wind angles at 9 knots or more in a very relaxed fashion. This is clearly a design in which you expect to consistently put in an excellent distance on each day of an ocean crossing.
The test took place off Port d’Andratx and Isla Dragonera on the south-western coast of Majorca on the same day as the photoshoot for Oyster’s brochure. The sea breeze reached 13 to 14 knots at its peak, giving glorious sailing conditions. We set off close reaching with the asymmetric spinnaker set, holding 9.5 to 10 knots of boat speed with a true wind angle of around 115 degrees. The boat felt very positive on the helm even when well pressed sailing hot angles in the stronger gusts, when single rudder designs might struggle. Attempting to bear away hard without easing the sheets produced an instant response, indicating the leeward rudder still had a reassuring amount of grip.
Upwind the boat fell into an easy groove, while still maintaining an impressive speed. Those who relish hand steering will find a comfortable helming position on the windward side deck, with feet braced against the wheel pedestal. It’s a good perch that gives a clear view of the luff of the jib and around the boat, other than under the headsail.
However, while on passage the Oyster 675 is likely to be steered by the pilot for most of the time. The standard system has two linear hydraulic rams, one pushing and the other pulling, but a single ram has sufficient power to steer the boat, which gives a reassuring redundancy in the event of one of them failing.
Equipment and options
In the past boats in this part of the market have been offered with a bewildering range of options. However, with the G6 range Oyster has standardised many of the essential items that almost all owners specify. At the same time the company has upped the level of equipment that’s provided in the standard specification, including air-conditioning, hydraulic headsail and mainsail furling systems, a generator, bow and stern thrusters, plus the galley equipment, high capacity gel batteries and electric winches. Nevertheless a large degree of customisation is still possible, particularly in terms of layouts, rig configuration, finishes and additional equipment. As well as the various rig and sail options, two keel choices are offered. Our test boat had the standard keel with a 2.95 m draught, although a lifting keel option is also available.
What it does best
Oyster’s customers are rarely only choosing a boat – they are also buying into an ecosystem of support and social networks. These elements are clearly important to the company and are a key reason behind its high number of repeat customers – around 40 per cent of new boats go to existing Oyster owners. As a result, a number of owners have had the same project managers through successive boats. Owners and captains are also encouraged to visit the factories and become involved in seeing their boats put together and the company encourages owners to engage surveyors to monitor the build process.
With all Oysters the delivery to Mallorca is treated as the main commissioning sail. “It's the best way to properly debug a boat,” says Jamie Collins who runs the company's Palma operation. “To have the ability to do [that] from our Palma office is superb.” This was set up four years ago to offer a range of support packages and now has 15 full-time staff including engineers, boat builders and guardianage captains. There are also 30 berths for Oyster owners in a prime location right in front of the Real Club Nautico. There’s a second company-owned base in Newport, Rhode Island that’s well positioned for Caribbean based boats that head north in the summer.
The company runs two popular regattas each year, one from Palma and the other at varied locations in Caribbean. There's also an occasional UK regatta that tends to attract the smaller boats in the range. For those wanting to explore further afield the biennial Oyster World Rally is a 15 month circumnavigation starting and finishing in the Caribbean that typically attracts 25-30 boats. All are important social gatherings in which owners and their guests forge lasting connections with other Oyster owners, crew and guests.
Perhaps the most obvious compromise that must be made is that a boat like this is not cheap – plenty of boats of this size with a lower price tag can be found elsewhere. However, Oyster’s formula is consistently popular with owners and the company is sufficiently busy that the second 675 won’t be launched until spring 2018.
This part of the market has become surprisingly competitive, with several quality yards launching yachts of a similar size. Notable examples include the Contest 67CS, Hallberg Rassy 64, Kraken 66 and the X-Yachts X6. At a larger size, the CNB 76 (see CNB 76 review), built by a subsidiary of Beneteau, offers the attraction of a larger yacht at a very competitive price.
For more information visit Oyster Yachts.
Browse Oyster yachts for sale on boats.com.
Oyster 675 specifications
Hull length 19.89m
Waterline length 18.16m
Draught (std keel) 2.95m
Sail area (150 per cent foretriangle) 229sq m
Water tanks 1,270 litres
Fuel tanks 1,780 litres