List of clipper ships

At the 'crest of the clipper wave' year of 1852, there were 200 clippers rounding Cape Horn.

Notable examples of the clipper ship include:

  • Archibald Russell, 1905, a steel-hulled 4-masted barque, 291.3 ft. x 43 ft. x 24 ft., built by Scott Shipbuilding and Engineering Co of Greenock. In 1923 she was sold to Gustaf Erikson, Mariehamn, Aland Islands, Finland and put on the Australian wheat trade. It was scrapped in 1949.
  • Ariel, 1865, 197.4 ft. x 33.9 ft. x 21 ft., designed by William Rennie, built by Robert Steele & Co, Greenock for Shaw, Lowther & Maxton of London. In late 1872 she left London bound for Sydney and was not heard of again.
  • Blackadder, 1870, (sister ship to Hallowe'en), built by Maudsley, Sons & Field at Greenwich for John Willis. On 5 November 1905 she was wrecked whilst on passage from Barry to Bahia loaded with coal.
  • Challenge, 1851, extreme clipper built by William H. Webb in NYC for the San Francisco run. 230' mainmast, 224' length, 2000 tons, 12,780 yards of sail. Captain Robert Waterman expected to beat Flying Cloud. Brutal treatment of inexperienced crew by Waterman and first mate James Douglass caused riots when San Franciscans heard of the first passage. Wrecked off Ushant, 1876
  • Champion of the Seas holds the speed record of 465 miles in 24 hours, set in 1854.
  • City of Adelaide, 1864. Oldest surviving hull of a clipper but threatened with demolition in 2010.
  • Cornwallis, 1862. Ship of the Black Ball Line, depicted in The Illustrated London News. Wrecked off the Pitcairn Islands and commemorated on a 1994 set of the Islands' stamps, Pitcairn 403-406, MNH. Michel 432-435
  • Cutty Sark, 1869. Built as a merchant vessel (the last clipper to be built for that purpose), and then as a training ship until being put on public display in 1954.
  • Donald McKay, 1855, 2604 tons, 266' x 46'3" x 29'5". Named after its designer.[1]
  • Fiery Cross, 1860. Richard 'Dickie' Robinson of Workington was appointed captain of the Fiery Cross in 1861, and under his command she won the tea race three times in the six years. Fiery Cross finished fourth in the famous The Great Tea Race of 1866, won in 106 days. Captain Robinson won the race a further two times when he was in command of Sir Lancelot. On his final passage in 1869, he came home in 89 days, a record that still stands to this day.
  • Flying Cloud, 1851. Holds New York to San Francisco record 89 days 8 hours in 1854, sister ship of the Northern Light. Second copy of the new design that produced the fastest clipper ships (Northern Light was built first).
  • Glory of the Seas
  • Great Republic, 1853. Designed by Donald MacKay and built in New York, she was at 335 feet the largest wooden merchant sailing ship ever built, a record that still stands. Before she made her maiden voyage, however, a fire on shore spread to her dock, and she burned to the waterline. She was rebuilt and relaunched.
  • Hallowe’en, 1870 (sister ship to Blackadder), 920 tons, 216.6 ft. x 35.2 ft. x 20.5 ft., built by Maudsley, Sons & Field at Greenwich for John Willis. Due to faults in her sister ship Blackadder, which caused dismasting on her maiden voyage, Hallowe'en was not handed over to Willis for nearly 18 months after her launch due to protracted legal action. Hallowe'en was fast in light airs and recorded many fast passages from China. In 1887 she was on passage from Foochow loaded with tea and was wrecked off Salcombe, South Devon, Britain.
  • Houqua, 1844. Laid down along lines designed by packet captain Nat Palmer of Stonington, CT. Built by Brown & Bell of New York for the China merchants A.A. Low & Bro, she was launched in 1844, named after a Chinese merchant who had died the previous year. Dogged by ill luck during her career, she disappeared at sea after leaving Yokohama in 1864.
  • James Baines, 1854. Launched on 25 July from the East Boston shipyard of the famous ship builder Donald McKay in the USA for the Black Ball Line of James Baines & Co., Liverpool. achieved 21 knots speed in 1856
  • John R. Worcester, 1865, composite built clipper, built by Marine Investment Co. Ltd (Glasgow) for John R. Worcester, London. 191'5" x 32'4" x 19'9", 844 tons net.
  • King Philip, 1856, Alna, Maine; wrecked at San Francisco, 1878.
  • Leander, 1867, composite built clipper, 215.5 ft. x 35.2 ft. x 20.7 ft., 848 tons net, designed by Bernard Waymouth, built by J.G. Lawrie, Glasgow for Joseph Somes.
  • Light Brigade, see Ocean Telegraph.
  • Lightning, 1854. Built by Donald McKay for James Baines of the Black Ball Line, Liverpool, for the Australia trade. Second fastest speed record 436 miles in 24 hours on maiden voyage Boston - Liverpool, and third fastest record of 430 miles in 24 hrs going to Australia.
  • Lothair, 1869, iron, 794 tons, built by William Walker at Rotherhithe for their own shipping business. In 1873, she was purchased by Killick, Martin & Co. Lothair sailed on until about 1910.
  • Marco Polo, 1851. In 1852 she made England-Australia round trip in less than 6 months.
  • Mimosa, 1853, converted to carry Welsh settlers to Patagonia in 1865.
  • Norman Court, 1869, composite built clipper, 197.4 ft. x 33 ft. x 20 ft., 833.87 tons net, designed by William Rennie, built by A & J Inglis, Glasgow. On the night of 29 March 1883 in a strong gale she was driven ashore and wrecked in Cymmeran Bay.
  • Northern Light, 1851, built in Boston and designed by naval architect Samuel Hartt Pook. His design for the new Northern Light was radically innovative, being raked very sharply below the waterline and with full and powerful lines topside. Arguably, the Northern Light was the fastest of all the clipper ships. In 1853, Northern Light set the record from San Francisco around Cape Horn to an east coast port (Boston) of 76 days 5 hours.
  • Ocean Telegraph, 1854. Renamed Light Brigade 1863. A clipper ship built for Reed, Wade & Co., Boston for the New York to San Francisco run. Built by James O. Curtis, Medford, MA, to the design of Boston-based naval architect Samuel Hartt Pook. Launched 29 March 1854. Dimensions 227' × 40' × 23' and tonnage 1495 tons Old Measurement. A very sharp clipper said to be one of the most perfect ships ever built as no expense was spared to make her so.
  • Phoenician, 478 tons, White Star line, first clipper ship to go to Australia, arrived Port Jackson July 21, 1849, a trip of 91 days.
  • Queen Of Nations, 1861, 827 tons, built in Aberdeen, wrecked in 1881 with a cargo of distilled spirits
  • Rainbow, 1844. Sometimes called the first of the true clipper ships, designed by John W. Griffiths and built by Smith & Dimon of New York for China merchants Howland & Aspinwall. So extensive was criticism of its radical design that Howland & Aspinwall delayed its construction, weighing a redesign, while rivals Brown & Bell, also of New York, completed and launched the clipper Houqua for China merchants A.A. Low & Bro. Rainbow was not launched until Feb 1845, 9 months after Houqua.
  • Red Jacket, 1853, 260 ft. x 44 ft., 4,000 tons net. Designed by Samuel Hartt Pook, built by the George Taylor yards, Rockland. Her maiden voyage, from New York to Liverpool set an unbroken dock to dock speed record of 13 days, one hour and 25 minutes. She originally sailed the Liverpool to Melbourne run. In 1854 she set another record from Liverpool to Melbourne of 67 days, 13 hours. In 1870 she was sold into the Canadian timber trade, and in 1882 was sent to the Cape Verde Islands, where she expired as a coal hulk.[2]
  • Sea Witch, 1846. 170 ft, 3 in. Her 140 ft mainmast carried 5 tiers of sails, as did the shorter fore and mizzen masts. In 1849 she made a record-setting run from Hong Kong to New York in 74 days under Captain Robert "Bully Bob" Waterman. The previous record, also held by Sea Witch and Captain Waterman, was 77 days, set in 1847.
  • Serica 1863, built by Robert Steel & Co, Greenock for the China tea trade. Participated in The Great Tea Race of 1866.
  • Sir Lancelot, 1865, 197.6 ft. x 33.7 ft. x 21 ft., 886 tons net, built by Robert Steel & Co, Greenock. Richard 'Dickie' Robinson of Workington was appointed captain. Robinson had already won three tea races as the commander of Fiery Cross, before placing a disappointing fourth in The Great Tea Race of 1866 which was won in 106 days. Captain Robinson won the race a further two times with Sir Lancelot. On his final passage in 1869, he came home in 89 days, a record that still stands to this day. In 1895 under Persian ownership, she was rumoured to have sank on 1 October during a cyclone near Sand Heads, Calcutta whilst on passage from the Red Sea loaded with salt.
  • Snow Squall, 1851. Small clipper, 800 tons, built for the China trade. Largest surviving piece of an American extreme clipper, was used as a dock in Port Stanley Falkland Islands. 19 feet of her bow is now in S Portland, ME in a purpose-built museum.
  • Sovereign of the Seas, 1852, 258 ft, the fastest and longest ship yet built when she was launched in New York, designed and built by Donald Mackay, America's foremost clipper designer. On her maiden voyage, she sailed New York to San Francisco in 103 days. This ship achieved the fastest ever recorded speed of a sailing vessel (22 knots).
  • Stad Amsterdam, 2000, clipper, built for the Randstad and the City of Amsterdam.
  • Stag, 1854, built in LaHave, Nova Scotia, known for her dramatic Aberdeen bow and fast Atlantic passages.
  • Stag Hound, 1850, extreme clipper, designed by Donald McKay and built in Boston. When it was built, it was the largest vessel in the American merchant marine; the record did not last long.
  • Sweepstakes, 1853, clipper built by Westervelt & McKay, held the record for the New York-Bombay run.
  • Syren, 1851, extreme clipper, the longest lived of all the clipper ships, at 68 years 7 months. Syren sailed in the San Francisco trade, in the Far East, and transported whaling products from Hawaii and the Arctic to New Bedford.
  • Tayleur, 1854. Designed by William Rennie of Liverpool and built for owners Charles Moore & Company.
  • Taitsing, 1865, composite clipper, 192 ft. x 31.5 ft. x 20.15 ft., built by Charles Connell & Co, Glasgow.
  • Thermopylae, 1868. A composite clipper ship built by Walter Hood & Co of Aberdeen to the design of Bernard Weymouth of London for the White Star Line of Aberdeen.
  • Ticonderoga, 1849. A 169 ft. 4-masted clipper displacing 1,089 tons, launched at Williamsburg, New York. The Ticonderoga was infamous for its "fever ship" voyage in 1852 from Liverpool to Port Phillip carrying 795 passengers. 100 passengers died during the voyage of what was later determined to have been typhus.
  • Witchcraft, 1850. A clipper ship built by Paul Curtis and Mr. Taylor, and designed by Samuel Hartt Pook.
  • Witch of the Wave, 1851, extreme clipper, built by George Raynes, Portsmouth, NH. She held the record passage from Calcutta to Boston, and sailed for over 30 years.
  • Young America, 1853. Built by William Webb of New York.

See also

  • List of extreme clippers


  1. ^ Lars Bruzelius (January 5, 2001). "Donald McKay". Retrieved 2007-11-29. 
  2. ^ Doris A. Isaacson, ed (1970). Maine: A Guide "Down East". Rockland, ME: Courier-Gazette, Inc.. pp. 261–262. 

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