The Oyster Regatta draws a family fleet

Twenty-five magnificent specimens of UK Oyster Marine Yachts congregated in the British Virgin Islands for the 28th event in the Oyster Regatta series. Their previous visit to our BVI was two years prior, so reunion was joyful and excitement fierce.

This year’s fleet of Oysters ranged from 46 feet to 82 feet, and spectators at Nanny Cay Marina were dazzled by the beauty of such incredible boats.

Day one saw racing from Nanny Cay to Cane Garden Bay beach.

Following the first race, competitors docked at the bay and were treated to a lavish meal at Myett’s Restaurant overlooking sand and sea with sunset views to Jost Van Dyke.

There, I caught up with Louay Habib, an avid sailor, who has been the Oyster Regatta journalist for three years. His enthusiasm was contagious as he explained his love for Oyster, describing the magnificent ships as “the Bentleys of the sea.”

The passionate Oyster voyager revealed that the regatta is not strictly about the racing. “The Oyster Regattas are more of a lifestyle and social event,” Habib said. “It’s about like-minded people coming together and enjoying each other’s company in beautiful places—that’s the spirit of Oyster.”

He further explained the unique quality of the Oyster world and their unanimous passions.

The Oyster Regatta is a global event travelling from the Caribbean to the US to Europe. “Participants swap stories and advice of where to visit,” he said. “Places range from Alaska to New Zealand; everyone loves sailing and has stories of where they’ve been. We call it the Oyster family; we have people that live on these yachts for months on end, and they are perfectly habitable boats.”

Expressing the Oyster Participants’ love of the sea, he said that it is not uncommon for them to take extended voyages.

“Richard and Angela Parkinson, with their son Oscar, travelled across the Atlantic to get here,” he said. “It took them sixteen days on their Oyster 575 called Sophistikate.”

Preparation for this Oyster Regatta meant that event supervisors had to arrive in the BVI a week before participants.

Their role was to make certain that everyone partaking thoroughly enjoyed themselves and that service was impeccable. The agenda, according to Oyster customer support manager Paul Bennett, was to ensure that, “Overall, people have fun.”

“If a part is needed for their boats, we will make sure we get it to them without fail whether by air, land or sea and as fast as the next day in some cases,” the manager said.

Though the regatta remains light-hearted in nature, the race does ignite a competitive streak in some.

“One racer was the boat Starry Night, which has three professionals on board with a master strategist,” Habib remarked, adding that boats were handicapped in accordance to size and model.

Three days of racing followed the Cane Garden Bay gathering, leading Oysters first to Virgin Gorda, where berthing had been reserved at North Sound’s Bitter End Yacht Club.

The following day, competitors embarked on a 25-mile course around Virgin Gorda before eventually darting into the prestigious Yacht Club Costa Smeralda Marina, also in the North Sound.

The final day of racing concluded at Nanny Cay, where the regatta party settled in style with prize giving, dinner and dancing.

The races were divided into two classes. The overall winners were Starry Night, an Oyster 82 in Class 1, and Scarlet, an Oyster LW48 in Class 2.

Next year, on January 6, the Oyster World Rally commences from Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua, where the Oyster family will reunite, no doubt with more fables of their sea adventures as they prepare to race around the world.