One of my long-time boat partners, Peter Rugg, has sailed and raced sailboats during extended assignments in the U.K. and Hong Kong, as well as the United States, where he grew up sailing on Long Island Sound. In recent years, he has sailed traditional one-designs and sprit boats and also taken up doublehanded racing, winning the doublehanded division in the Newport-to-Bermuda Race.
Peter and his wife, Meredith, visited the Southampton Boat Show earlier in September and studied two large, new cruising boats, the Oyster 575 and the Southerly 57RS. I don't think Peter was in the market for a cruising boat at the outset, but according to Meredith there might be one in their future now. This was the guest blog he sent me after visiting each of these new designs.
Peter Rugg writes:
The eye-catching deckhouse on this new flagship cruiser from Southerly by Northshore Yachts invites one to admire and want to board this boat. Her high-aspect-ratio carbon rig with in-boom furling deploys a fully battened main with slab reefing. Dual roller furling jibs; one working jib, one 140-percent genoa, are supported with triple swept-back spreaders and a split hydraulic permanent backstay.
The iconic Southerly swing keel draws 10’6” and give high performance on the wind. Off the breeze, with the keel up, she draws only 3’6”, and deploys a hydraulic carbon sprit to fly a 2000 sq. ft. asymmetrical spinnaker. This rig can be sailed by two people with high performance.
Ed Dubois has drawn a modern racing shape with plumb bow, 17 ft beam and a wide stern supporting twin rudders. Add the high end B&G H3000 instrumentation and Simrad autopilot, and this is the cruising boat that will cause the former racing sailor to have her measured for a handicap rating. Yet, the interior will cause his wife to entertain whenever in port. The main saloon is light and airy with six hatches adding light and optional ventilation. Just forward, one steps down to a spacious galley and separate breakfast settee. A choice of three optional stateroom layouts suit a range of family size and lifestyle. The options with split aft staterooms permit a tender garage for a Wiliams 285 Turbojet RIB. The 4 cylinder VW diesel engine puts out 154 hp with 220 gallons in fuel tanks and the same again for fresh water.
For me, Oyster has always held a respected name among high-end cruising boats, but having never been aboard one, I was not sure what to expect. The Oyster does not disappoint. With double roller furling headsails and in-mast furling main, and push button electric winches, she can set sail with ease with limited crew, although seeing running backstays on a cruising boat was a bit of a surprise. Rob Humphreys has delivered classic sleek and pleasing lines that promise a powerful yacht for long ocean passages or a quick jaunt around the coast.
Twin wheels for the helmsman are just behind the large center cockpit with center table that can include a built in refrigerator. Below she is luxurious with fine joinery and spacious accommodations. The saloon is a perfect interior space for larger groups, and the aft-facing navigation station can give good visual communications with the helmsman. With a 130 hp diesel engine, separate generator and water maker, and over 500 gallons of tankage for fuel and water, the world is truly your oyster.
Editor's Note: I asked Peter which boat would suit him better and he said, the Southerly, which he thought had a faster hull, the runner-less rig design and wider choice of interior layouts. He also admitted he'd go for "the big kite on a sprit for the guy with racing still in his blood." For another take on the Oyster 575, read "First sail for the new Oyster 575," written by Oyster president David Tydeman.