Evolution of Oyster Yachts Design


By Bob Marston
Partner, Wellington Yacht Partners

From 1999 to 2010 I had the pleasure of working as a salesman for Oyster Yachts in the Newport, RI, U.S. office. Under the vision and direction of founder Richard Matthews, the company grew and evolved to the successful brand it is today, recognized around the world as one of the best blue water cruising yachts available.

Oyster has earned its reputation through a continuous evolution of design, build integrity and responsiveness to feedback from its owners, who take their yachts to distant horizons.

In 1973 Oyster began with the constructions of a 32 foot cruiser/racer named the UFO. A successful design, UFO won most of the regattas it entered in 1974. Winning results soon brought more orders, and a boat-building company was formed. In the 1980s Oyster started to introduce cruising models like the 406, 46 and 49PH.

The success of these designs brought Oyster into the offshore cruising yacht scene. Their designer at the time was the firm of Holman and Pye, and many credit them for bringing the deck saloon concept to market. The model that put Oyster on the world cruising map was the Oyster 55 in 1989. Soon after its launch there were a number of Oyster 55s in the Blue Water Rally; it was here that the Oyster 55 gained notice and the deck saloon concept became a household name in cruising circles.

In the late 90s Don Pye was wishing to retire, so Oyster started the search for a new designer. They settled on Rob Humphreys, and in 1998 Rob designed the Oyster 56. The Oyster 56 Series was extremely successful, with 76 hulls built. Its characteristics were soon passed along to other new models in the line during the early 2000s: the Oyster 49, 53, 62, 66 and 82. These models were referred to as “G4” or Generation 4 designs. The construction of the yachts remained the same as they had been, with hand-laid solid glass layup, skeg-hung rudders and fin keels.

Around 2006 Oyster’s in-house design team along with Rob Humphreys was coming out with a new “G5” Generation 5 Design. These models were the Oyster 46, 54, 575, 655 and 72.

In the late 2000s, Oyster along with the Ed Dubois Design Team created the Oyster 100 and 125 Models, which remain the largest yachts Oyster has built to date.

Around this same time Oyster introduced the 625 and 885 with its “sea scape” hull windows. Taking the idea from their Super Yachts, they also included other features like flush-deck hatches and a single-point mainsheet to offer a cleaner deck layout.

The current generation of Oysters are the 565, 595, 675, 745 and 885. Refined features on these models are the integrated bowsprits for off-wind sails, European-style interior layout options with master cabin forward, tidy deck layouts and more modern interior design. While the 745 and 885 are crew-oriented yachts, the 565 and 595 are still intended as owner-operator models.

Oyster Yachts has never been a builder to sit on its laurels. Their success is derived from a creative in-house design team as well as from feedback from many happy owners all over the world sharing their experiences, both positive and negative. This feedback is then considered in the newer models, making Oyster yachts a constant evolution in progress.

Oysters are a brand we love to sell and have tremendous personal knowledge of. Please feel free to contact us to discuss all things Oyster.