We ask top sailors and marine industry gurus to choose the coolest and most innovative yachts of our times. Tom Cunliffe nominates Lady Belle

“It’s 50 years since my wife and I were beating down the West Solent in our first tiny yacht and saw a cloud of sail running in from seaward,” say Tom Cunliffe as he recalls his first sight of Lady Belle.

“She was smaller than we’d imagined but, being a gaff yawl with every stitch set, she’d looked bigger than she was.”

She proved to be Lady Belle, a Falmouth quay punt built by Harley Meade in 1909.

“During our far-off youth we lived in a wooden-boat community on the Hamble River. Lady Belle became a part of this.

“We always lusted after her and when she came up for sale half a dozen years ago, my daughter and her husband bought her.

“So, still on the Hamble, she puts to sea with a young family, teaching two lively lads the ways of the sailor.

“Lady Belle came home to us after half a century. How cool is that?”

Make sure you check out our full list of Coolest Yachts.

Lady Belle stats rating:

Top speed: 7 knots
LOA: 8.5m
Launched: 1909
Berths: 4
Price: ‘Not for Sale’
Adrenalin factor: 20%

Tom Cunliffe

Tom Cunliffe is one of Britain’s leading writers on sailing and the sea.

He is an authority on classic yachts and has sailed his own to destinations as diverse as Brazil, Greenland, the Caribbean and Russia.

He and his wife, Ros, sail their American cutter, Constance.

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