Set to kick off in Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua on Sunday 6 January, the 2013 Oyster World Rally will celebrate Oyster‘s 40th Anniversary. The event is expected to bring a 16-month odyssey of endless adventure, offering a truly unforgettable experience to Oyster owners as well as their guests.
A fleet of 27 magnificent examples of the Oyster yacht range will take part in the first ever Oyster World Rally. With the fleet hailing from Canada, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States, the rally is a truly international event. Nelson’s Dockyard has become the ‘Oyster village’ as the participants, backed by the Oyster Support Team, help each other to make ready for the adventure of a lifetime.
Alan du Toit’s brand new Oyster 575 sailing yacht Legend IV will be taking part, this is not the first time Jean and Alan du Toit have sailed around the world but the Oyster World Rally will be a totally different experience for the South African couple: “25 years ago, my wife and I set off from Cape Town in a small 34 foot yacht, we had little sailing experience and preparation was limited to say the least; we had virtually no means of contacting shore and navigation was by sextant alone. Since then the kids have come along and we have been hankering to get out there again. The timing of the rally has really suited us, as our daughter is enjoying a year away from school and our son is well established, so everything has fallen into place and we are really looking forward to it. The children have helped us get the yacht to Antigua but they will be stepping off for now along with my wife. Weather expert Chris Tibbs and his wife Helen will be joining the crew, as they were looking for a ride down to The Galapagos, so I expect our weather routing to be first class.
This circumnavigation is a world apart from our trip back in the 80’s. The support from Oyster to get the yacht ready has been exceptional and the information supplied is really useful. What we are really looking forward to is visiting some of the wonderful locations that we couldn’t visit 25 years ago. Back then there were many places you couldn’t enter legally on a South African passport so we only visited a few islands. This adventure is going to be much more comfortable and far better organised, which gives us great peace of mind.”
The Oyster World Rally will visit 31 magical destinations during the circumnavigation. After passing through the Panama Canal and into the Pacific. The Galapagos Islands, Marquesas, Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea are the first ports of call.
From the Pacific the fleet will head to the Great Barrier Reef, round the top of Australia, partying in Bali and heading west for Cape Town for Christmas and on to Brazil for the carnival, before joining up for a final grand party with the Oyster Caribbean Regatta in April 2014.
The Oyster Customer Service Team has been based in English Harbour for three weeks, assisting owners with their final preparations but the planning and preparation for the rally has been a two-year project led by Debbie Johnson and Eddie Scougall. Both have completed circumnavigations on board Oyster yachts and their wealth of experience makes them the ideal team to support owners on this journey of a lifetime.
Customer Care Manager, Eddie Scougall, describes the huge amount of preparation that has gone on behind the scenes: “The planning for the Oyster World Rally has been ongoing for two years and each owner has received an Oyster Rally World guide. This document is a digest of all that we have learnt over the past two years. The guide is close to a thousand pages of well-researched and up to date information. A comprehensive study of all of the destinations and practical advice designed precisely for the rally.
The personal safety of everybody taking part is our primary concern but the guide also covers issues such as customs and immigration. The Oyster World Rally will visit 15 different countries and regulations vary so much from country to country. Especially at some of the more remote locations, where there are few procedures in place for visiting yachts. However, by organizing the rally, we have been able to plan a route that would be virtually impossible for any yacht to undergo independently. All of the yachts will be receiving support from Oyster throughout the rally but as many ports of call have few facilities, we have been concentrating on getting the yachts in as best condition as possible before the start.”
Oyster World Rally Event Manager, Debbie Johnson, sums up the atmosphere in English Harbour before the start: “It is very exciting to finally be in Antigua getting ready for the start. So many sailors dream of sailing around the world and the camaraderie throughout the fleet is just fantastic. The Oyster Support Team is well prepared for the event and we will do everything possible to assist the yachts. Out at sea however, the nearest help will be the Oyster fleet and that is the real spirit of the Oyster World Rally, which is truly inspirational.”