The Rob Humphries design sets a benchmark in the mid-50s luxury cruising fleet. Late in 2009, BWS had the chance to visit the Oyster facilities in the east of England, and during a factory tour was able to wander around the innards of several new Oyster 575s that were being built. With their decks yet to be fastened down, the boats revealed just how complex they are and just how methodical and professional are the builders who craft them.
We have not yet sailed the 575, but offer a design review based upon our factory inspections, the details of the designs and specs, and our long familiarity with Oyster yachts and the people who build, market and service them. (BWS’s northeast sales rep, Scott Akerman, was an Oyster captain for several years.) The 575 is an evolutionary boat for Oyster. Over the years, the company has continued to expand its lines into the upper ranges of high-end production and now has several models in the 100-foot plus range—all built in fiberglass in standard production molds. Along this route, the company has developed design parameters, technical proficiencies, and gear and equipment specifications that rank them at the upper tier of custom and semi-custom mega yacht constructors. This knowledge has greatly enhanced the thinking that goes into the smaller boats in the line.Plus, Oyster makes a serious habit of talking to owners about their boats as they strive to perfect each model during its production run. There have been more than 50 Oyster 55s built, and several of these have completed circumnavigations. Thus far, there have been more than 70 Oyster 56s built, and these, too, have sailed on many extended and far-reaching voyages. The owners of the 55s and 56s are in many ways responsible for the design elements that went into the new 575. Hence, the boat’s evolutionary status.
DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION English yacht designer Rob Humphries has been creating new Oyster Yachts for over a decade and has very ably kept the line of cruisers at the forefront of the cruising scene. Oysters are not the most high tech cruising boats out there, but they are always the product of forward thinking and are eminently sensible from a seamanship point of view. Where the boats truly excel is in providing owners the highest quality in every detail, and thus great value over the long term both monetarily and in terms of safety and pleasure at sea.The 575 is the latest evolved form of the center cockpit, deck saloon style that Oyster has made famous over the past two decades. The hull Humphries has drawn is powerful, with full sections fore and aft, more than 16 feet of beam and a displacement of 61,728 pounds. The boat will feel like a ship beneath your feet and will stand up proudly to gales of wind. The 575’s displacement-to-length ratio is 200, which means the boat is moderately light by modern standards and well inside the “performance cruiser” range.To drive this powerful hull, the 575 has been equipped with an 82-foot tall sloop rig that flies 2,091 square feet of sail if you include the full sail area of the 150 percent genoa. That total sail area calculates out to a sail area-to-displacement ratio of 20.8, which is in the “racer cruiser” category and indicates that the boat will be a performer in light breezes as well as good winds. Over the years, the deck profiles of new Oysters have evolved, too, and now in the 575, the raised saloon profile has been molded into a single curve that flows from the cockpit to the coach roof over the forward cabins. The visibility from the helm at both wheels is excellent. In poor weather, a dodger can be raised to protect you from wind and spray. And in the tropics, a bimini top can be rigged aft of the dodger and over the helms. Calling the 575 a center cockpit design is almost a misnomer, since the cockpit is quite far aft and right over the after cabin. Still, with coach roof extending aft of the cockpit and broad after decks, under which there are huge lazarette lockers, the 575 is really just the latest thinking in center-cockpit configurations. Oysters are cruising boats first and foremost, so the specifications for hull and deck moldings tilt heavily toward laminates that will be strong, durable and capable of withstanding serious collisions. The 575’s hull is a solid, hand-laid fiberglass structure with Kevlar and carbon fiber laminated in at crucial stress points to add strength. The deck is a cored laminate that has massive reinforcements where deck hardware is mounted.The hull-to-deck joint is comprised of space-age adhesive and regular bolts through a fully reinforced molded flange. The structural bulkheads are tabbed to the floors, the inside of the hull and across the inside of the deck to form a fully bonded monocoque structure. There are three keel configurations available for the 575, including the new keel-centerboard version that Oyster has been making available for the last couple of years.The deep and shoal fixed keels are performance bulb shapes cast in lead and fixed to the hull with massive stainless steel bolts and adhesive. The keel-centerboard is a low aspect, hydrodynamic cruising keel that draws only five feet, five inches with the board up and a full 12 feet, six inches with the board down. Oyster still builds rudders with a full skeg, so they are protected from flotsam and strong enough to withstand a grounding.For cruisers, this belt-and-suspenders approach is much appreciated and not always easy to find. This small but significant detail underscores the safety and durability Oyster builds into every boat.
The new 575 has 18 opening port holes, saloon windows and deck hatches, so you can see that the priority was for the boat to be bright inside and well ventilated—two vital aspects of creature comfort on a cruising boat.
Most Oyster owners use their boats for the purpose for which they were designed: world cruising. In the mid-size range (for Oyster) where the 575 fits, most boats are sailed by couple or families, while some also carry a paid crew or skipper. The accommodation plan for the new boat fits both scenarios.
In the standard plan, the 575 provides two large double cabins with en suite heads and showers. The master cabin aft is huge and has large hanging lockers, a small desk-style vanity, and plenty of drawer and locker space. The forward cabin is the guest cabin and has a centerline double and ample storage spaces for a couple who might be visiting for a week or two. There are two smaller upper-lower berth cabins in the standard plan, which will be good for younger crew, children or a skipper and mate. The saloon is as commodious as any you will find on a boat of this size, with a large dinette, comfortable seating, useful tables and storage areas, and a large expanse of open floor.
This will be a great boat for a larger family or for a couple that likes to entertain in harbor. The nav station is a true offshore skipper’s haven, where he or she can mount all the electronics wanted or needed and can control all of the ship’s systems. The galley opposite lies in the passage aft to the master cabin. You will find all of the counter space, storage and kitchen equipment you need to prepare meals for parties of six or even more. Galleys like this are wonderful at sea since there is always a place to brace a hip or knee, and always a fiddle or handhold to steady yourself.
The interior fit and finish is as finely honed as you will see on any custom yacht. Oyster can accommodate a wide range of custom interior options and always works with owners to create a yacht to suit their needs as closely as possible. It is no wonder that Oyster can boast (but seldom does) that they count among their owners many self-reliant, successful captains of industry who never settle for anything but the very best.
The evolutionary Oyster 575, like her earlier sisterships, will be a manageable world cruiser for a couple or family. The powerful hull and tall rig combine to offer a high degree of stability and a creditable level of sailing performance. The 575 will be able to maintain very high average speeds at sea and will deliver her crew back to port better rested than when they left. BWS looks forward to sea trialing the new 575 later this year.
LOA 57’6”LWL51’6”Beam 16’5”Draft (standard) 8’10”Draft (shoal) 6’10”Draft (CB) 5’5”/12’6”Displacement 61,728 lbs.Fuel 250 gals.Water 250 gals.Engine 130hp dieselSail Area 2,091 sq. ft.SA/D 20.8D/L 200EUR/CD Cat. AOffice: Oyster MarineIpswich, Suffolk, EnglandPh: +44-(0)1473-688-888Website: www.oystermarine.comE-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
USA Office: Oyster Marine USANewport, RIPh: 401-846-7400E-mail: email@example.com