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Details & Rules for the Galway International Oyster Opening Championship

The World Oyster Opening Championships take place as part of the Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival, which takes place, in Galway, over the weekend of Friday 28th - Sunday 30th September 2012. One of Europe’s longest-running food extravaganzas, this festival was launched in September 1954. These days, the event is one of the biggest on Ireland’s social calendar, drawing more than 10,000 visitors.

Each year hundreds of competitors from around the world vie for a place in the prestigious Galway International Oyster Opening Championships. The winners from each country, with enthusiastic supporters in tow, travel to the city of Galway, in the West of Ireland to compete for the world title. 

Oyster openers from all over Ireland will be competing to oust the reigning Irish champion, Michael Moran from his well-earned title of National Oyster Opening Champion on Friday 28th September 2012. Michael has a long pedigree as an Oyster champ: World Oyster Opening Champion 2006. European Oyster Opening Champion 2005, 2009 & 2012. Irish Oyster Opening Champion 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 & 2011.

All entrants must be capable of opening 18 oysters in less than 120 seconds. This is the qualifying lower limit for the competition and the actual quantity to be opened will be 30 oysters. Competitors are judged on time and presentation.

Michael Moran, Irish Oyster Opening Champion, in action.

The Guinness World Oyster Opening Championship features contestants from every continent competing for the world title and valuable prizes. This takes place on Saturday 29th SeptemberThe 2011 champion is Xavier Caille of Belgium with a final time of opening 30 Oysters in 2 minutes 40 seconds.

The competitors are expected to open 30 oysters. Points are awarded primarily for the speed of opening 30 oysters. Judges award bonus points for presentation of the tray of opened oysters. A bonus of from 1 to 30 points is awarded by the Judges at their discretion for a tray of oysters that are presented in a neat and orderly manner.

There are several ways to Open oysters, some are faster than others, some create less grit in the meat. You can see how I open an Oyster by clicking HERE
The  Oyster Opening Championships are taken very seriously by both judges & competitors and the rules are strictly adhered to by all involved...

Official Rules for the Galway International Oyster Opening Championship

1. Only one entry from each country will be accepted and the committee shall have sole authority in determining the eligibility of a competitor to compete in the competition.

2. A sub-committee of the judges will select only the finest Galway Bay Oysters (Ostrea Edulis), which shall be not less than 76 millimeters in diameter.

3. The opening tables will be approximately ninety centimeters from the ground.

4. Each competitor will be required to open 30 oysters. He/She will receive a sealed box of oysters on stage and should ensure it contains 30 oysters prior to the start.

5 The boxes will be allocated to the competitors by lottery and each competitor’s tray will bear a code name.

6. The oysters must be opened on the board provided and presented on the tray provided, nothing else can be used for presentation purposes.

7. The competitors must present their oysters face upwards and may present them all either on the deep or flat shell.

8. In opening the oysters, the competitor will only use a knife, a cloth and any board supplied by the Committee. The competitor cannot use any support, holder, or, any other implement whatsoever. The Oyster Knives must also be approved by the Judges.

9. Competitors must be aged 18 or over.

10. Competitors must wear the aprons provided.

11. Competitors may wear gloves or any protective covering on their hands.

12. The Festival Compere will start each heat of the competition. Each competitor will start opening on his order.

13. Each competitor must indicate that they are finished, by ringing the hand bell provided. The competitor must not touch the tray after ringing this bell or disqualification may result.

14. Each competitor may be requested to carry their own tray of oysters to a designated point, and they will be responsible for the safety of their tray up to that point.

15. The Judges will examine the trays of oysters with the following points in mind :- Good appearance, well opened, without flaws. Totally severed from shell. Mussel intact – not torn, cut, sliced, wounded, and without blood. Orderly and neat appearance.

16. Points are awarded primarily for the speed of opening 30 oysters. Judges award bonus points for presentation of the tray of opened oysters. A bonus of from 1 to 30 points is awarded by the Judges at their discretion for a tray of oysters that are presented in a neat and orderly manner. The test for the Judges is how attractive the tray would look for a customer in a hotel or restaurant.

17. The following penalty points may be imposed:-
a) An oyster not severed from its shell - 4 points
b) An oyster with blood - 30 points
c) An oyster with shell or grit on its flesh - 4 points
d) An oyster, the flesh of which is cut or sliced - 4 points
e) An oyster not presented upright - 4 points
f) For each oyster not opened or presented - 30 points

(If an oyster shell is presented empty, or the flesh only is presented, the oyster will be deemed, not to have been presented).

18. The winner will be determined by the lowest combined time, bonus and penalties. In the event of a draw, the competitor with the lower penalty shall be deemed the winner. If they are still equal the competitor with the highest bonus award will be declared the winner. The judges will also award a prize for the best presentation based on the highest bonus awarded.

Click here for the current world Oyster Opening Championship Rankings.
Click here for listing of previous World Oyster Opening Champions.

For Full Details of Events and Ticket Bookings see

You can see my recipe for Grilled Oysters with Bacon & a Blue Cheese Crumb HERE


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