Commissioned by Richard Matthews, the man who built up Oyster Yachts over 40 years, for his next Oystercatcher, the Humphreys 39 is a true dual-purpose yacht, writes Toby Hodges


Richard Matthews, the man who built up Oyster Yachts over 40 years, has consistently kept ahead of the game with the designs he has commissioned. For his latest new build, however, he sought a true dual-purpose yacht, as the racers of yesteryear once were.

The H39 is an offshore-capable cruiser-racer, which can be adapted to suit IRC or ORC handicap racing. The first is the 31st Oystercatcher for Matthews. It is also his third yacht designed by Tom Humphreys,
son of Rob.

“In contrast to the previous [Hakes JV] 42 this yacht is of heavier displacement (5,000kg) and incorporates a package of genuine cruiser-racer features that I think will make the yacht nicer to be aboard and hopefully fairly rated under IRC,” Matthews explains.

“For starters we have a proper cockpit with seats and coamings, a berth for every crewmember (up to ten), a ‘proper’ galley with twin sinks, a gimballed cooker with oven and an ice box with a refrigeration system so we really will have cold beers! We have a sensible forward-facing chart table and an enclosed heads complete with shower and pressurised hot and cold water.”


Humphreys confirms: “The design ethos has tried to capture the wholesome, cruiser-racer and offshore-capable spirit of some of the office’s early CHS designs, but in a modern-day incarnation.”

Clever design

It’s a particularly clever design that can suit IRC and ORC by using a fin or T-keel, single or twin rudders and a range of rigging and spinnaker options. Oystercatcher has a solid lead fin keel and twin rudders. Humphreys reports that her IRC trial rating is between 1.125 and 1.144.

Oceantec in Slovenia did the S-glass/epoxy composite construction for this first H39. Finishing and fit-out was being carried out by Fox’s Marina & Boatyard in Ipswich as we went to press.

Matthews tells us that the female tooling used is capable of producing more H39s.
“All options are open at the moment and our future direction will be influenced by how well the boat works out in practice and specifically its competitiveness,” he says.

Oystercatcher XXXI is expected to participate in both the UK and European IRC Championships this season, plus Cowes Week and Cork Week.