Who wouldn´t love to see the sun set like this? It´s just a rendering, I know, but it captures perfectly well what most people seek in sailing: Enjoying the tranquility and peace of a quiet anchorange, seeing the sun go down with a drink in one´s hand and sharing this moment with a loved one. This is – next to quick sailing and fun whilst flying along – the driving motive for so many sailors, including myself. And there is not a second brand which does embody this setting better than British luxury sailboat maker Oyster.

Who wouldn´t dream like this?

You, dear reader, know about my passion) for these boats. It is a true pity that this year´s edition of Duessldorf Boat Show won´t take place, at least not with most brands. Oyster was among the first to cancel their participation. For me, their stand was always the epicenter of desire: Situated right next to my workplace (Beneteau), I every morning and every evening took an extra long walk around their boat on display, full of admiration, full of joy and – of course – dreaming myself away to an exact same looking location like on the picture above. Well, that´s not possible on 2021. Double sad: This year Oyster would have brought their brand new entry-level blue water cruiser, the Oyster 495. So, instead of seeing her live, I called Rob Humphreys, naval architect and house designer of all new Oysters. I am very happy he agreed to answer some of my questions on the new Oyster 495 – although it was Christmas Eve, literally. Thanks so much, Rob!

Talking to Oyster mastermind Rob Humphreys

Lars Reisberg | NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “Hi Rob, thanks for having me on this special day. Let´s make it a quick talk so that we can get back to our families. At first, a quick recap: How did you and the company get through the past 2 years? Did Brexit affect your proceedings? How did (and still do) you cope with the Corona-craze?”

Rob Humphreys: “Well, Lars, actually it seemed to get busier throughout the Corona-period. We were able to start with some very interesting new projects, like in the expedition motor yacht sector and of course some exciting sailing yacht projects. This includes in particular the Oyster 495 and a couple of new Elan yachts – the GT6 and E6. Of those, the latter is scheduled to be launched at the Duesseldorf Show if it goes ahead. Of the motor yacht projects we have two Arksen 85 in build on the Isle of Wight and a 50 meters fast displacement motor yacht in build at JFA Yachts in Brittany. Regarding Brexit, well, being a fairly international business we didn’t find Brexit getting in the way, to be honest. Although Covid was a disruption to physical meetings and easy travel we were already well invested in mobile working, with a virtual world doing nothing to detract from our productivity. In fact, our team has expanded over the past two years and every few days we have international ‘meetings’.”

First hull out of the mould

NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “That is very good to hear! Let´s talk about the new boat: When the Oyster 495 has been announced I was amazed and excited that the brand offers a new “smaller” boat as an entry to the brand – what was Mr. Hadidas briefing initially?”

Rob Humphreys: “Yes, that is true. Richard Hadida was very determined from the very beginning to develop a new model at the lower end of the range. It was only a matter of final size choice. In the end the decision was to come out with a boat just under the 50 feet-threshold, measuring 49.5 feet in hull length. Whatever it’s actual size, it always needed to be true to the blue water traditions of Oyster.”

“Small” Oyster yet incorporating everything it takes

NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “Speaking of Oyster-traditions: Which are the pivotal characteristics of the new Oyster 495 in your opinion and for whom is the boat meant to serve?”

Rob Humphreys: “Lars, well, there is always a tendency to think of the smallest boat in a range as a starter boat. And for some owners it may well be the entry to their journey upwards through the Oyster range over time. But for some, the 495 will be the definitive boat for them: The fulfilment of their dreams. So for us it is not a boat designed for temporary ownership but one that will serve an owner well, whatever his requirements. To own for a long time or to benefit from really high residual value if and when he or she moves on up the range. I think, next to the sailing capabilities and comforts, this is a specialty of the Oyster 495.”

Applying new production methods at Oyster

NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “You may know that I am possibly the biggest fan you can have when it comes to the Oyster 745. What would you say have the big Oysters exemplified which can also be found in the new smaller boat?”

Rob Humphreys: “There are many things. Like the clean, flush foredeck for example that has become a very popular feature of the Oyster range. Although this becomes harder to achieve the smaller the boat, with the 495 it still works well. And the other characteristic that has become a part of Oyster’s DNA – the easy traffic route between the main cockpit and a spacious aft deck – has been retained in the 495. Of course, the signature Seascape windows that help give the owner’s cabin a superb and well lit space is something you won´t miss on the smaller one. Equipment-wise the 495 is of the highest specification as you might imagine, with much of the technology that serves the biggest boats. The Oyster 495 may be a down-scale but it is certainly not a down-grade.”

Hull #1 almost finished

NO FRILLS SAILING.com: “Are there any details within the new boat which on the other way round may be incorporated to future big boats?”

Rob Humphreys: “Well, Lars, you will have to watch this space! (smiles) A Happy, healthy New Year to everyone, with fair winds and good sailing.”

Thanks Rob, for taking some of your precious time, especially during these busy Christmas days, to talk to me! The new Oyster 495 is currently still in the yard with last fittings and works to be done. Since there sadly won´t be a big world premiere in Duesseldorf, I am sure the guys will come up with an alternative solution. I hope I can see the boat live, latest in Cannes coming September. In any case, what a beauty!

Pictures © Copyright by Oyster Yachts, taken from Website and YouTube Video


You might also love to read these Oyster-related articles:

Aboard the Oyster 745

My own Oyster: Creating a scale half model parts 1 and 2

Talking to Tom and Rob Humphreys in the future of sailing