Fox’s Rigging provided rig checks in Antigua and will do so at further strategic ports around the globe
A fleet of 31 Oyster yachts, ranging from 45-83ft, is taking part in the second Oyster World Rally, which began from the Caribbean island of Antigua in mid January. The fleet started by exploring the Caribbean islands between Antigua and Panama, including the wonderful Lesser Antilles of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, and the San Blas Islands of Panama.
In March they are scheduled to regroup to transit the Panama Canal. From there the fleet will head to the Galapagos Islands and then to French Polynesia, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Zealand and Australia. After passing to the north of Australia they cross the Indian Ocean, via Bali, the Cocos Keeling Islands, Mauritius and Reunion. Following stops in Durban and Cape Town, they then head north in the Atlantic, via Ascension and St Helena, before returning to the Caribbean in April 2019. In all they will travel more than 30,000 miles over the next 27 months.
The fleet setting sail from Antigua. Credit: Tim Wright 2017 / photoaction.com
The community aspect is an important part of the rally both in terms of socialising en route and in the support participants gets from the Oyster team. Before the start, there were bespoke training sessions and seminars, as well as fabulous social gatherings. As the rally progresses, there’s further help with route planning, bureaucracy and sourcing any spares or repairs that may be needed.
14 different Oyster models are represented in the fleet. Credit: Tim Wright 2017 / photoaction.com
For instance, the team from Fox’s Rigging, which has rigged around 95 per cent of all Oysters built to date, will be on hand at key stopovers, to provide complimentary rig inspections and advice. The 15 boats that took part in the ARC were inspected before they crossed the Atlantic, then the entire fleet was inspected in Antigua. “Our plan is to re-inspect in the Marquesas, New Zealand and Cape Town,” says Fox’s Senior Rigger John Spear. “However, if any boat needs a rigger, we can provide a service in between those times.”
The weather and passage briefing was provided by four-time Volvo Ocean Race navigator, Wouter Verbraak of Sevenstar Yacht Transport
The fleet includes eight Oyster 575s. This is one of the company’s most popular models, given it’s widely considered as being the largest that can sensibly be sailed without a professional crew.
Track the fleet here: