Award recognition floats the boat at Suffolk yard


The vessel Falcon being restored at Woodbridge Boatyard. Picture: CHARMIAN BERRY - Credit: CHARMIAN BERRY

A boatyard could receive its second annual award for restoration work carried out to a wooden racing yacht. 

The team at Woodbridge Boatyard worked on the vessel Falcon, which was built in Norway in the 1950s by designer Bjarne Aas and had spent 35 years on the River Orwell in the ownership of Sir Michael Harrison. 

Their work has been shortlisted for Classic Magazine’s Restored Sailing Vessel of the Year award in the 40ft category.

Falcon on the River Deben

Falcon sailing on the River Deben. Picture: CHARMIAN BERRY - Credit: CHARMIAN BERRY

In 2020, Ariel, a Deben Cherub, won the same award for the boatyard.

After 70 years of sailing, Falcon was showing signs of ageing, including broken timbers, delaminated glue and corroded metal fittings. 

The mast was also starting to fail due to corrosion; therefore, the decision was made to move Falcon from Woolverstone Marina to Woodbridge Boatyard for major restoration work. 

Falcon on the River Deben

Falcon on the River Deben. Picture: CHARMIAN BERRY - Credit: CHARMIAN BERRY

Works to the boat were extensive and included the removal of her deck, the replacement or repair of the majority of her internal ribs, frames and beams, the replacement of her transom, stem and several planks and the laying of a new deck, using an environmentally-conscious alternative to traditional teak. 

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The aluminium mast and boom are gone, replaced with a varnished wooden set with specially designed and fabricated polished stainless steel fittings, returning Falcon to her original arrangement. 

Her hull has also been varnished. 

Matt Lis, the Boatyard’s general manager, said: “We take great pride in the fact that almost all of the work was carried out in-house or within ten miles of Woodbridge. 

“We have an incredible centre of excellence in East Anglia for traditional and classic boats and their constituent parts; riggers to metal workers, saw mills to boatyards like ourselves, there’s a wealth of knowledge, skill and passion that deserves to be recognised so an award like this is great for everybody who was involved.  

“Across all categories there are 31 boats shortlisted from around the world; five of them are from Suffolk and we should take great pride in that.”