It’s day two of the 41st Oyster Regatta on the island of Mallorca and the fleet has just arrived in Port Antratx after the regatta’s first passage race along the coast. The dock party is getting set up, the food trucks have arrived and I find myself sat in the saloon of the beautiful Oyster 885, Lush, sharing a beer with new owner, software entrepreneur, Richard Hadida.
I’d had the opportunity to hear Richard’s first night speech at RCNP and was immediately impressed by the passion with which he spoke, not only of the Oysters themselves, but more importantly of the Oyster family. He reiterates this whilst we are sat chatting. He says this is a new era for Oyster, where the emphasis is on fun and family and putting their own stamp and story on the brand.
He’s been sailing with Eddie Jordan on Lush for four years with his family and talks of the fond memories, of the fun times and how sailing is in his family’s blood. They often come over to Mallorca, but also try and choose new destinations like Croatia or Sicily and always a stint in the Caribbean over winter. He describes it as a villa that can move, of it being blue water cruising in style and luxury, where it’s an adventurous environment for the whole family. They never berth and are always at anchor, ready to discover a new cove or cala. It is the perfect place for the whole family young or old.
I ask about Lush and I’m told how wonderful a boat she is, that she is the best superyacht in the world. She was the first 885 numbered 88501 and when she came out of the shipyard six years ago the first thing she did was sail straight around the world. It’s impressive. This winter she will be getting a bit of a break as she goes in for a 3-month refit in Southampton. She’s been sailed well and hard and deserves a rest.
It was this love of the Oyster yachts and the environments that they created that prompted Richard to put in his bid when he discovered that his beloved Oysters had gone into administration back in February. He did not want to stand by and watch as a British institution disappeared. He doesn’t talk about what he paid to buy Oyster, but he outbid several other individuals and now owns the assets, tooling and IP, as well as the subsidiary brokerage, after market and events companies.
He says he wants Oyster to up its game in every way. To make it more accessible and easy going. To up the fun factor. There are talks about a new entry level Oyster being designed to make its market appeal even broader. When he first bought Oyster he wrote to a thousand owners to assure them of his plans and he received hundreds of letters back and they weren’t just a couple of lines, these were full letters talking with relief and happiness that he was to be at the helm. It really showed him that this was the correct course of action to take.
This happiness with the new ownership is echoed by Lawrie Brice, Captain of Satori, Oyster 74501, talking on behalf of himself and the owner of Satori, who I caught up with later at the dock party, where there was definitely a lot of fun being had. “We are so satisfied, as Oyster Captain and Owner, with the events that they have put on this year. Also the after-sales service delivered more than our expectations. Moving forward we are very excited about the events and are looking forward to taking part. The new management team look as though they are going to make owning an Oyster even more rewarding.” Eddie Jordan’s excitement at the future of Oyster is palpable “Oyster is the best boat that was ever put on this planet. Thank you Richard! Thank you crew!” The atmosphere amongst the owners and crew is definitely one of positivity.
And it’s not just sailing that Richard cares about, he is also passionate about the impact that sailing has on the environment. Lush is now completely plastic bottle free, with a newly installed filtration system producing her very own still and sparkling water. The whole event was, in fact, plastic bottle free, with Clean Water providing the water stations and the crews being given their own refillable bottles.This feature was sponsored by our very own Islander Magazine. Even at the party, guests were issued with their own reusable cups for the night. Richard believes that we have a responsibility towards the oceans that we sail on and that Oyster will be an ambassador for sailing becoming plastic free moving forward.
Not wanting to take up any more of the man’s precious time I ask if he has any final words. He says with a smile that he is here for good, that this is a lifetime role, that he is the guardian of the future for all Oyster owners, old and new. That the brand will stay British and British made. That the future is bright and fun and for all the family.
I don’t think Oyster could wish for a smarter, friendlier, more inclusive custodian if they tried. The future is indeed iridescent!
By Victoria Pearce