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The famous crack clipper ‘Thermopylae’ built in 1868 was designed for the China tea trade. She is regarded as one of the fastest clippers, setting numerous record passages, averaging 63 days from London to Melbourne. Thermopylae was a hugely significant vessel as she was designed for the China Tea Trade and was fast – a bonus when it came to the ‘Tea Races’. Thermopylae’s most famous race against the Cutty Sark took place in 1872, when the two ships left Shanghai together on 18 June. Thermopylae won – arriving in London a week before the Cutty Sark which had lost her rudder in a heavy gale.

Thermopylae departing Lyttelton, 1885

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