THERMOPYLAE (1868): The fastest clipper ship to have sailed the oceans of the world….
– Length 1235 mm – Height 790 mm – Breadth 175 mm
– Finely Crafted
– Largest Scale in the world: 1:64
– Built from scratch over thousands of hours, including research
– Project duration: 3 years
– Highest possible accuracy based on original plans, historical drawings, paintings and photographs
Clipper Ship Rivalry: Thermopylae versus Cutty Sark:
They were grand, towering spectacles and, for a few years, the swiftest transport vessels on the oceans. A clipper ship, with a mainmast almost as tall as the ship’s length, was a sight to behold even at anchor. At sea, riding a strong wind under full sail, it was the marvel of its time. They had inspired names: Flying Cloud, Flying Fish, Hurricane, Stag Hound, Westward Ho, Lightning, Sea Witch. The most famous were the Thermopylae and Cutty Sark. They became great rivals in the England-China tea trade and, in a sense, sisters.
Thermopylae & Cutty Sark: Legends in Their Own Time:
Both vessels were Scottish-built. The Thermopylae, on its maiden voyage in 1868, set a speed record of 61 days from London to Melbourne. It then broke the transport record from Foochow back home to Gravesend.
The Cutty Sark was launched in 1869, and informal competition between the two fliers began the next year. The Thermopylae bested the Cutty Sark in 1870 and 1871. In 1872, the Cutty Sark held an estimated 400-mile lead until it lost its rudder in a severe gale in the Indian Ocean. It limped around the Cape of Good Hope and arrived in England a week behind its nemesis.
Not until 1876 did the Cutty Sark make the best time. The Thermopylae regained dominance the next year.
THERMOPYLAE was an extreme composite clipper ship designed by Bernard Waymouth of London and build in 1868 by Walter Hood & Co., Aberdeen.
In 1897 she was sold to the Portuguese Navy as a training ship and renamed PEDRO NUNES, after a 16th century Portuguese mathematician and geographer. The vessel was converted to a coal hulk and finally sunk by gunfire as target practice on 13th October 1907. In June 2003 a group of professional Portuguese divers found the remains of THERMOPYLAE about 30 meters down on the seabed off Lisbon. The hull is mainly buried beneath the sand but enough is visible to identify her as THERMOPYLAE.
“…. The delightful form of the hull of a tea clipper, gently twisting from a hollowed curve and flare at the bows to a slight inward inclination or tumblehome and then reversing the twist again into the grand sweep under the counter stern, all being moulded perfectly into the curves toward the keel, must surely rank as the most aesthetically perfect manmade shape. There is much to be learned about the purpose of life in looking back-as in our regard of the tea clipper ….George Campbell [China Tea Clippers, 1990]”
Ship Model Construction & Video by Vlasios Giannakainas (sidirodromeas).
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