“I believe it is my duty to inform our fellow yachtspeople and the whole sailing community about what happened so that the same mistakes can be avoided in the future,” reads a statement from Alexander V. Ezhkov, owner of SY Polina Star III (PSIII), on a recently launched website that tells his side of the story in the demise of Oyster Yachts. OysterStory claims to be a first-hand account of what happened to the Oyster 825-02 sailing yacht, PSIII, and how, in their opinion, the failure to handle the dispute adequately led to the liquidation of the Oyster Yachts’ shipyard.

The website outlines a series of events in which the shipyard adopted a “head-in-the-sand” approach to issues with PSIII, eventually levelling an extremely serious accusation at the British superyacht manufacturer. It should be noted that the disclaimer on OysterStory claims that the website “represents, to the best of his knowledge, the statement of Mr Ezhkov’s honest opinion” and that “errors and omissions are expected.” It is perhaps no great surprise then that the site’s content presents a far from a balanced argument.

According to the website, PSIII leaves for her maiden voyage in May 2014, between July and September she is back in the yard undergoing warranty repairs – initial suspicions of keel dislocation are raised. On 13 March 2015, PSIII was lifted out of the water in Antigua in order for an independent marine surveyor report to be conducted. Small Ship Consultants, the marine surveyors used to complete the report, found that the “Movement of the ballast keel along its joint with the hull stub is considered excessive and not simply a cosmetic defect”. When Oyster Yachts was notified, it is claimed that the yard responded to Ezhkov by explaining that “This is a cosmetic issue only and does not affect the attachment of the keel to the hull”.

Speaking exclusively with SuperyachtNews, David Tydeman, former CEO of Oyster Yachts, explains that “A key point to note is that the flexing of the joint between the stub keel and the lead bulb keel – that is the subject of my ‘its cosmetic, enjoy your yacht’ comments I am quoted on was proved to be correct. None of the keel bolts failed and this was an unfortunate and completely disconnected issue to the moulding defects which caused the stub keel structure to fail and the loss of the vessel.”

On 03 July 2015 PSIII sinks. Following the incident, OysterStory claims that Oyster Yachts refused to do anything about the problem when it was imminent, failed to acknowledge liability, dragged out settlement proposals and never properly apologised to the owner, dubbing the yard “Ostrich Yachts” because of the "head in the sand" approach.

“This has been a long and distressing story for all parties,” explains Tydeman. “I flew to Moscow after the incident as soon as I could obtain a visa and, in a personal capacity, apologised sincerely to Mr Ezkhov for the incident and the distress that I was sure he has suffered. During the following months, Mr Ezhkov and I tried to find a solution to build him a new Oyster 885 although that proposal failed to develop."

Between October 2015 and January 2018, the various legal and claims proceedings associated with a major incident played out. While Ezkhov received a full pay out for the loss of PSIII from his insurers, Hiscox MGA, issues of uninsured losses for outfitting, crewing, moral distress and loss of amenity remain unresolved.

“I was personally pleased to see that Mr Ezhkov was paid out by his insurers and, in my capacity as CEO of Oyster, we were waiting for those insurers to present their subrogated claim against Oyster,” continues Tydeman. “The fact that this was not presented was outside Oyster’s control, but at no point did Oyster seek to avoid its liability or legal responsibilities. I again express my apology in a personal capacity to Mr Ezhkov for all that he has experienced. I am unable to comment on Oyster’s behalf since the company is now in administration.”

The website, for obvious reasons, takes an incredibly one-sided approach to the issues of PSIII and Oyster Yachts’ eventual administration, it further voices some serious allegations against Oyster Yachts relating to the shipyard’s finances. As yet, however, nothing has been proven, but SuperyachtNews will continue to post updates on the story as and when there are developments.  

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