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To last forever: Saturday 5 April 2014 marked the official end of the inaugural Oyster World Rally 2013-2014, organised to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Oyster Yachts.

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Owners, sailors and friends of the 30,000-mile global odyssey gathered in Nelson's Dockyard in Antigua to celebrate a voyage never to be forgotten, with Oyster CEO, David Tydeman, welcoming the Oyster World Rally sailors back to Antigua.

"You have been an incredible inspiration to an enormous number of people around the world," said Tydeman. "Your fabulous achievement has been followed by hundreds of thousands on the Internet and Oyster has received expressions of interest from over 200 families wanting to take part in the next event. Before the first Oyster World Rally started, 43 Oyster yachts had received their Oyster Circumnavigation Award and it gives me great pleasure to give out 23 more today and I am lost for words to describe how amazing that is."

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Ian Davis, owner of Oyster 56, Yantina operated a radio-net during the Oyster World Rally and was welcomed by David Tydeman to the stage to act as Master of Ceremonies at the World Rally Awards Ceremony. Much to the amusement of the guests, Ian used radio etiquette to call each yacht crew to the stage, the applause and laughter was long, loud and very genuine, as each yacht received their silver salver commemorating their circumnavigation.

The biggest cheer of all was the last--for Eddie Scougall and Debbie Johnson of Oyster Yachts who together have been the rock on which the Oyster World Rally was built. Two years of meticulous preparation was followed by 24-hour support throughout the 16-month voyage, assisting in all manner of logistical and technical solutions.

"That was a blast!" smiled Eddie, addressing the sailors. "You should be very proud of what you have done --99 percent of yachtsmen dream of sailing around the world and you have actually done it. This rally has seen higher highs and a few lows and you have taken everything in your stride and overcome so many adversities. Everybody has looked out for each other, providing all sorts of help, advice, moral support and occasionally a shoulder to cry on. If there was a spirit of the rally award, it would have to go to everyone, you have proved this by the way you have all bonded and every crew has stuck it out, right from the start to the finish, and that is something fairly unique in this type of event. Debbie and I would like to thank everyone for their kindness, consideration and putting up with us, even when things weren't going quite as they should. Words cannot express how proud..."

It was all too much for both Debbie and Eddie, who broke down in tears, spilling out the emotions of 30,000 miles and nearly four years work, it all came welling-up to the surface as they left the stage to a standing ovation and a warm embrace from the Oyster family.

A private party was held at Casa Lidia, one of Antigua's most exclusive villas with unparalleled views of Nelson's Dockyard. After a champagne reception, guests were treated to an evening of unusual entertainment of their own making. Each yacht in the Oyster World Rally performed an amusing sketch depicting their take on the experience. Raucous laughter and tumultuous applause accompanied each performance but Bob Morgan's video rendition of Billy Joel We didn't start the fire!' was so good an encore was demanded. The sketch included a six-minute video depicting the Oyster World Rally, a cameo of moments from the event; whales breaching, dolphins playing, scuba diving, tribal dancing, trek walking and ocean sailing.

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The party went on long into the night, with sailors reminiscing with each other about the incredible experience they had shared together, the Oyster World Rally had reached its conclusion but the memories and friendships made between a special group of people would last forever.

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PEARLY GATES

Some 28 Oyster Yachts set sail from Antigua on a voyage of circumnavigation that would change all their lives forever. Below: Oyster Yachts' Debbie and Eddie Scougall (front left and right) celebrate a remarkable achievement. Opposite page from the top: Racing aboard Oyster 655 Proteus; Idyllic sunset in Fiji for Proteus owners Denise and Chris Ballard, together with their pro-crew. (Publisher, Anthony Twibill was fortunate to sail with them at both Hamilton Island in Australia and at the concluding Antigua Regatta).
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Title Annotation:APERTURE
Author:Habib, Louay
Publication:Offshore Yachting
Geographic Code:5ANTI
Date:Aug 1, 2014
Words:725
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