The mission for the Oyster 56 was to design a world class cruising yacht that would develop the proven features and characteristics of current Oysters, blended with further innovation, which would appeal to blue water cruising yachtsmen well into the next century. The Oyster 56 has been designed by a team comprising Oyster's own in-house CAD studio and management team, Holman & Pye and, for the first time on an Oyster project, leading UK designer Rob Humphreys. The Oyster 56 offers a unique blend of performance, comfort, accommodation, and features. Comfort starts above deck, since for the first time as far as we know, a yacht builder has endeavored to create a truly ergonomic cockpit. The cockpit design is the result of consultation with Loughborough University Department of Ergonomics, who have a worldwide reputation, their usual work more often being found in seating for cars and aircraft. The result is that the cockpit on the Oyster 56 will set new standards in comfort, both at sea and in harbor. Not only has the cockpit been designed for maximum comfort, but also to offer exceptional space for a yacht of this size. By using the cockpit as one of the focal points of the design, more seating space and width forward of the helm station has been provided. This makes relaxing and entertaining a true pleasure, while maintaining all the essential qualities of a serious seagoing yacht. The helm station at the aft end has the winches clustered around that area, so sail handling may be undertaken by the helmsman if short handed. Of course there's a lot more to the Oyster 56 than the cockpit. Fair, CAD-optimized hull lines have produced a yacht which is well balanced and very fast. There is a generous sail plan to make best use of the yacht's stability, which derives from both the high form stability of her hull lines and the low center of gravity given by her bulb keel. Rob Humphreys ran several models in computer simulation and tank testing while designing his Whitbread racing yachts and the concept of the 56's keel has benefited directly from this experience. The standard rig on the 56 is a sloop with a fully-battened mainsail system, combining dependability and ease of handling with optimum performance. Cutter rig is certain to be a popular option with blue water yachtsmen, while in-mast furling is offered as an alternative for owners to whom ease of handling, short handed, is a priority. The new Oyster 56 carries her beam well forward and aft, resulting in the potential for an interior layout that has set a new standard for a yacht of this size. The saloon of the 56 is particularly spacious, taking advantage of the yachts 16-foot 3-inch beam. Although each yacht is configured to best match her owner's priorities, the standard layout offers a choice of an en-suite owner's stateroom aft with three guest cabins, or two guest cabins and a walk-in machinery room alongside the engine, which is installed under the cockpit. There is ample space for all the usual cruising amenities such as generator, bow-thruster, air conditioning and heating, watermaker, etc. This is where Oyster's experience in building almost 50 Oyster 55s has been invaluable to early Oyster 56 clients, since the same experience in construction, build detail, electromechanical installations, and so forth has been fully utilized to ensure a harmonious integration of building skills from the start.