The Oyster marque has an outstanding reputation for producing top quality world-girdling yachts and the latest model will not disappoint.
Oyster's new owners have investing heavily in the company over the past couple of years, with a slew of new models. The 825 aims to create a superyacht level of style and comfort for owners who also want to take an active part in sailing. The new model replaces the previous Oyster 82 and follows in the footsteps of the hugely successful 625, a nominee for the best Luxury Cruiser category in the European Yacht of the Year awards that will take place in January 2012.
The new design has 15 per cent more internal volume than its predecessor – space the design team has largely incorporated into the three cabins aft for owners and guests. The forward layout has also been modified, providing separate quarters for four crew and a lavishly equipped galley that’s neatly separated from the owner’s and guest accommodation. On deck, in addition to large cockpits for guests and crew, there are huge expanses of flush deck both forward and aft that are ideal for sunbathing and entertaining.
With a long waterline and powerful semi-fractional sloop rig with fully battened mainsail, the boat promises quick passage times, with up to 250 miles a day a realistic proposition in suitable conditions. Oyster core values of strength, seaworthiness and practical, seaman-like features are reflected in the external lead keel and fully protected skeg-hung rudder, while the GRP hull and deck incorporate Kevlar and carbon fibre to increase stiffness in highly-loaded areas.
A distinctive powered side-sliding glass companionway leads to the full-width saloon. The sheer space of this area is immediately striking – it has the flexibility to provide a genuinely versatile entertaining area and relaxation zone. Wrap-around deck saloon windows flood the area with natural light, which is further enhanced by large seascape windows in the hull. The two forward deck saloon ports open on gas struts to promote a cooling breeze through the accommodation when at anchor. Joinery is in American white oak with grain matched locker doors and a deep satin finish. Optional finishes include a choice of cherry, teak or maple.
The luxurious and spacious owner’s cabin spans the full width of the back of the yacht, while there are two almost mirror images en suite guest cabins between this and the saloon. Initial plans show the port one as a twin and the starboard a double, although this could be tweaked to suit an individual owner’s requirements.
The galley is immediately forward of the guest saloon and also incorporates a crew mess. Forward of this are the two en suite crew cabins – a double plus a twin with bunk beds. Decent crew quarters such as this are a vital part of attracting good staff and this arrangement allows for a full complement of crew to provide a superlative, yet very discreet, level of service.
Equipment and options
Almost everything needed to maximise the comfort of guests, from air conditioning to Wedgwood bone china dinner service, is included in the standard inventory. Equally, all essential sailing, navigation and safety equipment is provided, while allowing a degree of customisation that might include 20/20 displays, on-deck chart plotter/radar display and the owner’s choice of entertainment systems. Apart from that, a new owner would need to do little more than turn up with bedding and provisions in order to go cruising.
On deck and performance
The walk through twin cockpit layout with twin carbon wheels looks stunning and will clearly find favour with everyone on board. Additional seating areas right aft are also a nice touch that help to provide a number of different zones in which guests can relax and socialise.
Deck gear is of a good quality, while an optional carbon rig reduces weight aloft significantly improving stability and sail carrying ability. The eight stainless steel pop-up mooring cleats, with chafe strips, are a good illustration of the depth of experience and attention to detail that has gone into this design.
The plans suggest a boat that will be responsive and impeccably behaved under sail, while having sufficient weight to provide an easy motion and solidly-reassuring feel for non-sailing guests.
What it does best
This design appears to be a perfect blend of the sometimes conflicting requirements of performance and interior space – it is a yacht that should prove a delight to sail, especially in the standard deep draught form, while providing supremely comfortable and spacious guest accommodation. To achieve this without compromising the facilities the crew need to provide the service that discerning owners expect is certainly impressive.
In a powerful cruising yacht of this size the majority of trade-offs relate to the allocation of accommodation for each purpose. Oyster has struck what should be a good balance for most owners between the social areas and crew and guest accommodation. However, for owners with their own ideas, a considerable degree of personalisation is possible.
Although the standard model’s deep draught will prohibit entry to many smaller harbours and anchorages, the shoal draught and centreboard options will be ideal for those who intend to spend extended periods in the Mediterranean or who like to seek out quiet destinations off the beaten track.
At this size – the lower end of the superyacht league – there are few other production yachts to consider. However, Nautor’s Swan 82 is the standard by which many owners judge yachts in this bracket. The Finnish design is sleeker and more powerful than the Oyster, but is in effect a smaller boat, with less beam, especially in the forward sections and consequently less accommodation. The Swan is an exquisitely finished boat, but unless you place a huge value on the additional performance it would be hard for many potential buyers to justify the additional cost.
Where to learn more?
The first Oyster 825 will start production in spring 2012, with delivery scheduled for summer 2013. For more details see Oyster Marine
Rupert Holmes has cruised and raced more than 60,000 miles, between 60 degrees north and 56 degrees south. He writes about all aspects of boat ownership and marine travel, including destinations, seamanship and maintenance, as well as undertaking regular boat and gear tests. He owns two yachts, one currently based in the Aegean and the other in the Solent.