The 40ft Concordia Yawl is believed to be the only one in the UK

A vicar from Congresbury in Somerset travelled over 5,000 miles to import a rare sailing yacht from America that’s believed to be the only one of her kind now in Britain.

Reverend Matthew Thomson travelled to Florida to look at a boat with his friend and boat restoration expert Mark Rolt. The pair then drove a further 800 miles to Maryland where they found the 40ft Concordia Yawl Live Yankee, which was snapped up by the boat-loving clergyman.

Thomson told the Bristol Evening Post: “I had always had a dream of owning my own boat and when we arrived in Maryland I saw the Live Yankee hidden away under a tarpaulin.

“The boat has not changed since it was built and I am going to retain its name as well, although it’s not what I would have chosen.”

American soldier Waldo Howland, who constructed boats involved in the D-Day landings, helped design the yacht and she was built by Aberking and Rasmussen in 1958. Only 103 were ever made and the restoration work is expected to run into thousands of pounds.

She was brought to Southampton onboard a car transporter ferry and then taken to Bristol, where she’s being restored by the Bristol Classic Boat Company.

Thomson plans to use wood from his hometown of Congresbury in her restoration, donated by a friend who felled an oak tree from his garden, and plans to moor on the River Dart after the planned launch in May.

Thomson pledged to use the boat to help with his ministries, taking his congregation for a sail along the river in a bid to help them escape the stresses of every day life.