If I’d sailed her blind, I probably wouldn’t have noticed by feel that this yacht’s mainsail lived in the mast during its time off. Odd how prejudice fades away in the light of truth. You know, “if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with,” as Stephen Stills sang. I’ll wager that only a GPS could tell the difference in speed between our sea-trial boat and one with the standard rig.
Upwind, the 625 relies on her 150 genoa for the majority of drive. This sail’s clean leading edge and adjustable draft allow it to draw well over many points of sail, though tacking and jibing it can be a pain. Our experienced crew and powered winches made short work of handling the big headsail, and the 625 tacked as though she were smaller, quickly passing through stays. Catching her on the new tack at exactly the right moment spurred her into a deliberate, but satisfyingly quick, acceleration — as befits her role as a cruising yacht. We jibed her without drama in the light-to-moderate winds of the day, because we didn’t need the running backstays. In high winds and rough seas, the crew would have to jibe the runners, as well as tend the headsail.
In keeping with current philosophy, Oyster has divided the cockpit into a lounge just abaft the companionway and, two steps up, a working end next aft. This arrangement lets nonsailors relax and enjoy their experience in safety, without getting in the way of the crew, and gives everyone aboard a place to hang out for sunset cocktails when the boat’s at anchor. The primary and secondary winches share a flat, each side forward of the helms and outboard of the guest’s cockpit. Crew members tend the genoa from the side decks, pushing buttons on the outboard side of the coaming.
Sight lines from the helms are excellent, in part because the working cockpit is high, relative to the low-profile deckhouse. A bench on both sides of the cockpit encourages the helmsman to sit, and the perch is quite comfortable. The wraparound seat back on each bench let me snuggle into the outboard corner of the seat and steer comfortably from the low side.
Her continuous mainsheet loops from a slot in the afterdeck, through a block on the end of the boom, back into the slot and then to port, where it emerges from a slot in the coaming then forward to a winch inboard of and slightly abaft the portside helmsman bench. The helmsman should be able to reach it from either side, though a dedicated trimmer will make tending the main easier.
Oysters have been a favorite of gourmets and romantics for centuries, but this 625 fuels the sailor’s soul.