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The RACER clipper-packet ship of New York

Date: 18 October 1851
Overall: 402 x 273 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00005971
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    This page from the Illustrated London News features an engraving of the American built clipper RACER under sail at sea. The illustration accompanies the article 'The Clipper Ship RACER', in which the newly built vessel is described and admired in detail.
    SignificanceThis illustration of the clipper ship RACER is representative of transportation of cargo and passengers between America and Australia during the 19th century.
    HistoryDriven by market competition and profit in an expanding global economy, a fierce demand for faster vessels arose in the 19th century. Influenced by the small and fast coastal packets called 'Balitimore clippers', American ship designers created a revolutionary vessel - the clipper ship. Incorporating the latest sail and hull technology, clipper ships had long narrow composite hulls, sharp bows and enormous canvas sails. They were able to reach speeds over 18 knots, averaging more than 400 nautical miles in 24 hours.

    By 1854, a voyage from Liverpool, England to Melbourne was reduced from 100 to just 64 days. At this time, ship designers and builders such as Donald McKay were building clippers specifically for the Australian trade - strong enough to withstand the roaring 40s of the Great Southern Ocean. With the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, many passenger services switched to steamship, and clipper ships were increasingly left to transport cargo alone.

    The 1,700 ton clipper ship RACER was built by Currier & Townsend in Newbury Port, Massachusetts in 1851. It was built specifically for the New York - Liverpool route for the St George Line, and was also invlolved in freight and passenger transport to Australia.
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