The infamous Oyster 825 Polina Star III, which lost its keel and sank just a year after it was handed over to its owner and caused long lawsuits between him and the management of the English shipyard, culminating in the bankruptcy of the latter, gained a second wind. The yacht, which had been offered to be sawn on recycled materials, was restored and put on stream. She can now be rented in the same place where she had been lying at the bottom of the sea for several months - off the coast of Spain. This is an occasion to remember what happened to Polina Star III in the last five years.
A surprise crash.
So, in July 2015, the 25m Oyster 825 Polina Star III, launched a year earlier, lost its keel and sank in the Mediterranean Sea near Alicante, Spain. 5 crew members were on board: two professionals and three yachting enthusiasts. Behind was a long journey across the ocean that started in the Caribbean archipelago of Antigua and Barbuda. In the long run, a round-the-world voyage.
Weather was excellent: sunny day, wave about 1.3 meters, wind 18 knots. The Polina Star III team put in a jib and riffled the mainsail.
At about two o'clock in the afternoon a strange loud sound began to be heard from the hull, accompanied by a vibration. When the crew looked into the engine room, they found it flooded with water.
By turning on the emergency pump, the crew immediately sent a distress call and began preparing the lifeboats. Just 5 minutes later, the keel of the sailboat detached from the hull and the vessel turned over.
Fortunately, none of the crew members were injured. As they sat in the boats, they filmed their sailboat drifting, pointing their rudder feathers up into the sky and showing a big hole in the hull. Later it will be calculated that the area of the torn trim was about 20 square meters.
The next morning, the Polina Star III was still drifting. In a day, it travelled 15 miles from the crash site. One steering wheel was missing by then, the other was partially broken. A day after the wreck, the sailboat still went down to the bottom, where it lay 4 miles off the coast at a depth of 40 meters until October.
Reasons and consequences
According to the captain of Polina Star III, there were problems with the keel even before the wreck. In July 2014, just a couple of months after the acceptance of the new yacht at the shipyard, she was even undergoing a warranty repair in England, during which it was discovered that the ballast part of the keel does not fit tightly to the plastic fin on the hull shell due to the loose keel bolts.
In December 2014, the problem arose again in Antigua. This time, however, Oyster's management simply swept it away. It was no longer possible to move the yacht to Europe and show it again to the crew of the surveyor.
After lifting the boat and its wreckage from the bottom, no evidence of collision with any underwater object was found either on the keel or on the hull.
After a long investigation, mistakes made during the lamination of the boat, i.e. during its construction, were still found to be the cause of the wreck.
Although the breakdown of Polina Star III was an isolated incident, it has severely damaged the previously impeccable 42-year reputation of the British shipyard. In the winter of 2018, Oyster Yachts declared itself bankrupt.
Shipyard fan«», founder and creative director of Evolution Gaming, Richard Hadida, was saved from Oyster Yachts liquidation.
He bought out the company and all its daughter«s» with his own funds.
Under the old name, a new brand, which is not legally responsible for the crash of Polina Star III or for any claims related to it, has actually started to operate.
Polina Star III itself has also received its second chance.
After the wreckage was lifted from the water, what the sailboat had become was stored in the county of Essex in the south-east of England at the family shipyard Boats.co.uk. When Oyster Yachts went bankrupt, Polina Star III, covered in mud and covered in sea ducks, became the property of the company.
Despite the fact that their firm usually deals with motor yachts, the owners decided to reconstruct the sailing boat. After the initial physical cleaning they started«stripping the boat» to the bottom layers of GRP, bringing it to the state it was in in the early stages of construction. A patch was then used to restore the original hull shape.
The new keel fin has been slightly modified to make it a little wider and thicker, but the keel itself has been decided not to be replaced.
Finally, the body could be laminated again.
When the hull was finished, it was time for the interiors. The original darkish teak was replaced by American white oak. Some deck equipment, including winches and metal structures, survived the crash.
Formula Spars made a new 30-metre mast, but the geek was left untouched. Bushprit was restored from Polina Star III photos.
The original GRP left handwheel also took its place. A pair for it was ordered in France.
The home «flag of» Red ensign was raised again at the stern.
When the work was completed, Polina Star III (or rather, now Champagne Hippy) met the highest standards of the British Maritime and Coast Guard Agency (MCA). It is available for chartering anywhere in the world.
The entire renovation took around 13 months and was the most extensive project the company has ever undertaken.
The enthusiasts chose autumn 2019 as their deadline. During their work they found a sticker on board from the ARC 2014 transatlantic regatta and decided that although they had never sailed before, they should definitely take part in the Polina Star III race in 2019. And they did it: the boat went to the start of the ARC 2019 and despite the fact that small repairs had to be corrected already during the race, successfully finished it.
«A lot of people there said it was impossible to do that, which was the main motivation for me. I knew it was possible, even though it took a whole year of my life. I didn't have a single day off and I worked every day from 6am to late at night. I felt this boat deserved a second chance. I was so sorry to see her like this. I couldn't bring myself to cut it, which many people wanted to do. A lot of people wanted the boat to be destroyed, but we started fixing it. Anything is possible if you surround yourself with the right people. We had the right people and we brought this boat back to life. We are very proud of what we did,"»says Nick Barke, one of four brothers who own Boats.co.uk.
Now the Bark family is giving up Champagne Hippy for charter in the Caribbean and Spain. With no overnight stay, up to 16 guests gather on board. There are 8-9 guests on board and 4 air-conditioned guest cabins with showers. One more bedroom is for the crew.
For shore trips, the aft garage stores the Williams Sportjet 345 tender.
And you can enjoy the sea by using Seabob or paddling.
The Champagne Hippy charter price starts at £30000 per week (excluding VAT).