A FALMOUTH-based boatbuilder has been awarded a prestigious prize at an international prizegiving. 

Falmouth boatbuilding trainee Alex Whitaker, aged 17, was awarded the coveted Torbay Cup at the Sail Training International Tall Ships Races Prizegiving in Norway last week.

Alex moved from Yorkshire at sixteen to study boatbuilding at Falmouth Marine School last September. He said: "I’m passionate about boats and I have really enjoyed my college studies and work experience at Mylor Yacht Harbour."

Falmouth Packet: The 20-metre Danish yacht, TaraThe 20-metre Danish yacht, Tara (Image: Supplied)

On completing his Level 3 Boatbuilding Diploma at the Marine School in July, Alex planned to join the Tall Ships Races in Norway. "I had booked to sail on the Norwegian barque, Statsraad Lehmkuhl, to Shetland," Alex said, "but at the last minute got the offer to join the Races early on the 20-metre Danish yacht, Tara. So I cancelled my flight and sailed from Hartlepool next morning."

The seventeen-year-old then joined the Statsraad Lehmkuhl as planned to Shetland.  Then, instead of flying home, he decided to join the final leg of the Race back to Norway, again aboard Tara.

Falmouth Packet: Tall Ships Races in NorwayTall Ships Races in Norway (Image: Supplied)

"It was a fantastic experience to cross the North Sea three times, and on such different vessels. I’ve met so many people and made so many friends.  The Tall Ships Races are a wonderful opportunity for young people, whether or not you’ve ever sailed before."

At the closing ceremonies in Norway, Alex was awarded the Torbay Cup, given each year to a young trainee for outstanding individual achievement and personal effort during the Tall Ships Races.  "Our Alex was selected among 1500 and deserved the award," his Danish skipper said. “It's been a pleasure having him on board in every way."

Alex is looking forward to returning to Falmouth next week to see the tall ships in harbour for the start of the Magellan Elcano Race.  Some he has met before in Norway; others will be vessels he’s never seen before. "It should be a great event," he said.