The fleet of British-built Oyster yachts taking part in the Oyster World Rally 2022-23 has set off on the next passage of their round-the-world circumnavigation. The yachts departed from the V&A Waterfront Marina at Cape Town, where they had enjoyed Christmas and New Year celebrations. The next passage takes them first to the remote island of St Helena, before heading across the Atlantic to Ascension Island, Salvador in Brazil, Fernando de Noronha, and Grenada.
The fleet has been sailing for just over 12 months since starting from Antigua in January 2022. With over 20,000 nm already sailed and now around the Cape of Good Hope, the significance of leaving the Indian Ocean behind and heading back into the Atlantic will, for many, feel like the final countdown on this amazing voyage of a lifetime. “I can’t believe how quickly the time goes – it just flashes by,” says Oyster 565 Infinity owner Ross Golding.
There are now only four months of sailing and some 7,000 nm left before the fleet cross the finish line at English Harbour, Antigua and where one of the yachts in the rally will formally be recognised as the 100thOyster to circumnavigate the world.
Prior to enjoying the Christmas break, the fleet faced one of the most memorable and challenging passages of the circumnavigation from Reunion to Durban and then onto Cape Town. Hugh Mullens, owner and skipper of Oyster 565 Akoya said this was due to the combination of more upwind sailing in strong winds and sailing against the famous Agulhas current that made it one of the most memorable legs. For Ross Golding onboard Oyster 565 Infinity, it was rounding the Cape of Good Hope in winds of 40-45 knots, hitting personal breaking-record speeds over 20 knots – “our 565 was just razor sharp” he said.
Having lived aboard now for over a year, Ross added that for him and his family Infinity was “just like home, a very comfortable home. The quality and workmanship that goes into an Oyster makes us feel almost more comfortable than in our home!” Hugh agrees: “When you have family and friends crewing with you on the way round, you need to feel incredibly safe and she’s solid as a rock. Oyster yachts are without doubt the ultimate ‘get you home’ boat.“
Fully supported by Oyster’s Rally Support team and After Sales service, the fleet will set off across to St Helena having undergone essential checks of the rig, electronics, navigation and safety systems.
Allie Smith, Head of Oyster Group Events comments, “The support provided by Oyster on the World Rally is one of the key features of this event and a main reason why people sign up to sail around the world with us. Whether it’s our Technical Support team helping service winch and hydraulic systems, carrying out rigging checks or renewing anti-fouling and replacing anodes, or our Logistics team assisting with official formalities, admin, and concierge services, or the After Sales team bringing out specific items from the UK, we’re on hand to ensure our Oyster owners are fully supported all around the world.“
Reflecting on lessons learned so far along the circumnavigation, both Ross and Hugh agree that having a positive attitude, sense of humour and a cool head are paramount. “There undoubtedly will be problems along the way, and these will often occur at the worst times, but a sense of humour and cool head enable you to work it out,” says Ross. Hugh agrees, and says his biggest surprise was how relaxed he felt and how well he had coped with long and sometimes challenging passages.
And their advice for future entrants in the next Oyster World Rally? “Just appreciate being disconnected with the world,” says Ross. “Before we left Antigua we were worried about getting into ports due to Covid, but in the middle of the ocean, you realise that Covid doesn’t exist, that politics doesn’t exist and you just forget about the need to be connected. You can just unwind and enjoy every moment.“
The Oyster World Rally 2022-23 fleet is due to arrive into St Helena around January 23rd. Some of the yachts will choose to stop over at Ascension Island, before heading to Salvador in mainland Brazil or choosing to sail to the archipelago of 21 volcanic islands that make up Fernando de Noronha.