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Tuesday 24th April 2012

Oyster A Lady racing during the Oyster Regatta held in BVI.

A Cork yacht has taken a class win in the prestigious Oyster Regatta in the British Virgin Islands. Stephen and Aileen Hyde's Oyster 56 from Crosshaven, A Lady did not win a single race but their consistent form produced the best set of results from the Oyster Deck Saloon Division to secure victory for the Irish Team. The A Lady team is all from Ireland and they took great delight in accepting the winner's trophy and also the accolade of becoming one of the many Oysters that have circumnavigated the world's oceans. "In a single word, this regatta has been excellent." said Stephen Hyde. "I have to say that sailing 45,000 miles has been good practice for the event but winning isn't everything, there are so many good people at Oyster Regattas, I thought that the last Caribbean regatta was a great occasion and this one has certainly at least matched it. I have now sailed the world but I can say that there are few places as delightful to sail as the BVI, especially at an Oyster Regatta, it has been a memorable occasion."

Perhaps, David Tydeman, CEO of Oyster Marine summed up the Oyster's Regatta BVI at the final prize giving. "This has been one of the most friendly and enjoyable regattas of the 28 events we have had over the years. The sailing conditions have been nothing short of superb and the feedback coming from the Oyster owners is unanimous; the racecourses have provided a blend of amazing scenery and challenging sailing with close competition between the fleet. It had been especially pleasant to see nine Oysters in attendance for the first time and we hope that the experience will make them regular visitors to Oyster events."

For the last day of racing, sponsored by Pantaenius, The Oyster fleet enjoyed a passage race to Nanny Cay Marina. However, light winds necessitated a shorter course. Starting in the North Sound, a route around The Dogs then passed the western shore of Virgin Gorda, Fallen Jerusalem and Ginger Island where a finish line was laid. These islands offer mesmerising vistas of extraordinary beauty but also tactically challenging wind shifts and current eddies.

In Class 1, William Dockser's Oyster 82, Ravenous II timed the line to perfection, however this was a very competitive start especially between Chase Leavitt's Oyster 72, Holo Kai and Oyster 82, Starry Night of the Caribbean. The two powerful yachts were side by side through the line, just a few metres apart. Holo Kai managed to squeeze out Starry Night of the Caribbean and took up the early lead in the race. Chris and Susan Shea's Oyster 72, Magrathea chose to stay further to the right of the course after the start and it looked like a good choice. The graceful Oyster had better boat speed than those fighting for air in the wind shadow of The Dogs. Starry Night of the Caribbean managed to get into clear air first and powered away to win by some margin. Magrathea and Ravenous II had a tremendous battle for second place and not just for the race but also for runner up overall. Both yachts crossed the finish line together to score the same finish time. It had been a fascinating duel lasting over two hours. However, after time correction Magrathea claimed second in class with Ravenous II third.

Taking a hatrick of wins, Starry Night of the Caribbean was declared winner of Class 1, their crew boss John Burnie explained his thoughts. "It is just such a fabulous place to come for a regatta and I have to say that the courses have been excellent, hats off to Oyster, the event has really put a smile on Starry Night's crew and of course our owner, his family and guests. It is very satisfying to win but these regattas are all about enjoyment and I can safely say that we have had immense fun racing around the BVI."

In Class 1, a special mention must go to the two Oyster 655s; Michael Jones' Blue Horizons and John Noble's Neki, which came fourth and fifth respectively. Blue Horizons was competing in just their second regatta and Neki their first and both yachts scored the same number of nett points. However, Blue Horizons won the duel by virtue of a better result, (only one place!) in the last race. Also in Class 1, two Oyster 66s, Valentine and Forever Young had a tremendous battle for the line, the two yachts both had young children on board that had become friends during the regatta. Forever Young crossed the line first but Valentine won the match after time correction.

In Class 2, Ross Applebey's LW48, Scarlet Oyster was again untouchable, scoring their fourth win in a row by some distance. Ross is the youngest owner at the regatta but his team's performance showed great maturity and the extensive amount of racing experience was a big factor in their victory. "This is the first Oyster Regatta that we have competed in and I must say that the friendliness and hospitality has been fantastic." Explained Ross Applebey. "I was especially delighted that David Tydeman was on our table for the final dinner party but also the warm words of congratulation from Oyster owners has shown me the spirit of Oyster is first class. A very big thank you to everyone who has been racing and of course the Oyster team, this regatta has been a very special one for Scarlet Oyster."

Second place in the division went to Richard & Angela Parkinson's Oyster 575, Sophistikate, which finished the regatta in fine style winning the battle of the deck saloons, taking the last race of the event by over three minutes on corrected time and securing second overall, in a highly competitive class.

Three yachts had the same nett points after four races but Sopistikate was declared second by virtue of their final result. John McTigue's Oyster 56, Blue Dreams was third ahead of Bill Munro's Oyster 575, Boarding Pass III. Unfortunately the Scottish team on Boarding Pass III could not compete in the final race, a spinnaker wrap had damaged their main sail mechanism but every cloud has a silver lining, as Bill Munro explains;

"It was difficult to watch the fleet leave this morning but I was pleased to hear from Paul Bateman (Oyster 56, Stardust of Burnham) later in the day. I think that Paul showed the true spirit of Oyster when he offered me a replacement for the broken part, which he had as a spare. We meet other Oyster owners on our travels and we always try to help each other and Paul's kindness is a marvellous example of that."

On the final night of Oyster Regatta BVI, a prize giving party was held at Peg Legs Restaurant at Nanny Cay. Set right on the beach, under a carpet of stars, their was wave after wave of applause as the prize winners were announced. Oyster Owners and their crew take enormous pride in meticulously preparing and maintaining their yachts, ably assisted by the Oyster team who offer unparalleled worldwide support. Probably one of the biggest cheers of the night was for the winners of the Concours d'Elegance. Sponsored by Pelagos Yachts, Declan O'Sullivan was on hand to give out the prizes and the winners in Class 1 were Merle Gilmore's Oyster 66, Lady Tara and Michael Jones & Georgina Godolphin's Oyster 655, Blue Horizons. In Class 2, George & Sam Chandler's Oyster 56, Champlain and Richard & Angela Parkinson's Oyster 575, Sophistikate were awarded prizes for their immaculate yachts

After the prize giving ceremony, 200 guests enjoyed a sumptuous formal dinner and there were smiles all round, The Oyster family had enjoyed excellent sailing conditions, amazing scenery and a fabulous extravaganza of parties at some of the BVIs finest locations.

Owner of Oyster 72, Holo Kai, Chase Leavitt has come along way to compete, Manhattan Beach California is over 3,500 miles from the BVI. Chase summed up the spirit of the regatta.

"We have had a great time, we didn't come here to win, we came to have some fun with good friends and we definitely achieved that. I think our best manoeuvre of the week was after the finish, we anchored off Cooper Island had some cheeseburgers and went swimming, which I have got to say was a tactical masterstroke! Thank you to all the Holo Kai team. The name means seafarer in Hawaiian and comes from a place that myself and my wife Marla hold dear but we are regular visitors to the BVI, we love the atmosphere and the variety of islands so close together makes it an very interesting pace to visit."

The next Oyster Regatta will be a truly special event, hosted by the Royal Yacht Squadron from 9-14 July in Cowes to celebrate the Olympic year. Followed by t he Oyster fleet returns to Palma at the end of the summer, when many of the yachts on the Oyster World Rally will be gathering to make their way across to the Caribbean for the start of that event in Antigua on 6 January 2013.

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