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The Woodbridge Boatyard are looking to score a hat trick of wins for River Deben boatbuilders with ‘Falcon’, an International One Design they restored last year, being shortlisted for Classic Boat Magazine’s ‘Restored Sailing Vessel of the Year’ award in the Under 40ft category.

The awards are decided by public vote at Classic Boat Awards’ website here. Voting closes at 9am (GMT) on Monday 15 March, 2022.

In 2020 ‘Ariel’, a Deben Cherub built in 1939 by Woodbridge Boatyard (then trading under its founder’s name, Everson & Sons) and restored in the same yard, won the same award that ‘Falcon’ is now competing for. In 2021 Sam Doman’s ‘Longshore’ dinghy won the Spirit of Tradition award, so a third consecutive winner from the Suffolk river is possible with enough votes.

‘Falcon’, built in Norway in the 1950s by her designer Bjarne Aas, is sleek and elegant, the quintessential wooden racing yacht. Fleets of International One Designs still compete all around the world with large fleets in Scandanavia, mainland America and Bermuda. The British fleet has moved around over the decades, originating in Essex, moving to Edinburgh and, more recently Cornwall with the fleet now being somewhat dispersed although there are now two more at Levington. ‘Falcon’ had spent 35 years on the River Orwell in the ownership of Sir Michael Harrison when her present owner, Edwin Harrison, inherited her in 2019. Sir Michael had raced her, cruised her and taught his children to sail on her; she was, and remains, very much part of the family. After almost 70 years of hard sailing ‘Falcon’ was showing structural signs of her age with broken timbers, delaminated glue and corroded metal fastenings. Her aluminium mast was also failing following many years of corrosion. Late in 2019 the decision was made to move ‘Falcon’ from Woolverstone Marina to Woodbridge Boatyard for a major restoration so that, in Edwin’s words, she could teach another generation to sail and be inherited by his own children.

Works to ‘Falcon’ were extensive with her deck being removed, the majority of her internal ribs, frames and beams being replaced or repaired, her transom, stem and several planks being replaced, and a new deck, using an environmentally-conscious alternative to traditional teak being laid. The aluminium mast and boom are gone and in their place are a varnished wooden set with specially designed and fabricated polished stainless steel fittings, returning ‘Falcon’ to her original arrangement. Having been stripped of all of her paint during the restoration process the decision was taken early on by Edwin that her hull should also be varnished to put her beautiful wooden planking on display.

“We take great pride in the fact that almost all of the work was carried out in-house or within 10 miles of Woodbridge”, says Woodbridge Boatyard General Manager Matt Lis, “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; 5 of them are from Suffolk and we should take great pride in that!”

Woodbridge Boatyard’s ‘Falcon’ competes in the ‘Restored Sailing Vessel Under 40ft’ category, Ipswich’s Spirit Yachts hope to see their ‘Spirit 30’ crowned best ‘New Sailing Vessel’, whilst Levington’s Suffolk Yacht Harbour have ‘Flower Power’ and ‘Ryegate’ taking on Southwold’s Harbour Marine Services’ ‘Lazy Days’ for the title of ‘Restored Power Vessel’ of the year.