AN oyster shucker from Mersea has been named one of the fastest shellfish openers in the country.

Sel Yuzen, who owns the West Mersea Oyster Bar, entered himself into the British Tabasco Oyster Opening Championships in London.

He was up against 19 other oyster men from across the country and was tasked with opening 30 oysters in the quickest time.

Even though it was his first ever time entering the competition, he finished in third place with a time of four minutes.

He said: “The competition is held every year in London but this was my first entry.

“It was held in Mayfair and it was a really good day.

“We hold an oyster opening competition on the island but I didn’t enter this year.

“Someone told me about the London competition so I registered myself.”

Everyone was given 30 oysters to open and the quickest and neatest oyster shucker would win.

Points were deducted if the oyster was damaged or not fully open.

Sel said: “I finished in just over four minutes.

“The winning time was about two minutes and 50 seconds.

“The winner was very quick, I think he has won for the past few years.”

Shucking an oyster is not an easy task due to the resilience of the oyster.

Sel said: “It becomes easier once you know how it’s done, but it’s not that easy.

“You have to get the right part to make sure it doesn’t miss the meat.

“You have to slide the knife across the top shell to get a clean cut and then the bottom shell to release the muscle.”

Sel now has his sights set on entering again next year and hopes to improve on his time.

He added: “It’s harder in different surroundings.

“When I’m at the oyster bar I’m opening about 1,600 oysters a day and my timing is a lot quicker.

“Hopefully next year it will be a different story.”

The competition was held at Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill, home to two-time champion Federico Fiorillo.

The annual event is now in its 27th year.

Contestants competed head-to-head for the chance to win a championship trophy, cash prize and the opportunity to represent Britain at the World Oyster Opening Championship in Galway, Ireland.

The competition marked the start of Britain’s native oyster season by honouring the skill and expertise involved in oyster shucking.

The scored event challenges shuckers to open and present native oysters as quickly and professionally as possible, before serving their platter to a panel of judges.

The judging panel is made up of industry experts including Chris Leftwich, chairman of the Shellfish Association of Great Britain.