Hornet (clipper)

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Name: Hornet
Owner: Chamberlain & Phelps, New York.
Ordered: Westervelt & MacKay, New York
Launched: June 20, 1851
General characteristics
Class and type: Extreme clipper
Tons burthen: 1426 tons
Length: 207 ft.
Beam: 40 ft.
Draft: 22 ft.[1]

Hornet was an 1851 extreme clipper in the San Francisco trade, famous for its race with Flying Cloud.

Race with Flying Cloud

Hornet had a two day head start on the Flying Cloud in their famous 1853 race. She left New York for San Francisco, April 26, 1853, with the Flying Cloud departing two days later.

After the roughly 15,000 mile voyage around Cape Horn, both ships arrived in San Francisco harbor 106 days later at almost the same time, with Hornet sailing in just 45 minutes ahead of the Flying Cloud.


In 1866, Hornet took a cargo of candles, case oil, and oil in barrels from New York to San Francisco under Captain Josiah A. Mitchell.


Loss of the ship

Hornet caught fire and sank on May 3, 1866. The crew left the ship in three boats. The captain's boat reached Hawaii on June 15, 1866, but the two other boats disappeared.[2]


  1. Crothers, William L. (1997). The American-Built Clipper Ship, 1850-1856: Characteristics, Construction, Details. Camden, ME: International Marine. pp. xvii. ISBN 0070145016. 
  2. Bruzelius, Lars (1996-01-02). "Clipper Ships: “Hornet” (1851)". Hornet. The Maritime History Virtual Archives. http://www.bruzelius.info/Nautica/Ships/Clippers/Hornet%281851%29.html. Retrieved June 7, 2010.