Race Horse (clipper)

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Career (United States) 100x35px
Name: Race Horse
Owner: J.M. Forbes, I. Goddard & Co., Boston
Builder: Samuel Hall, East Boston
Launched: June 1850
Fate: Vanished early 1865
Notes: Designed by Samuel Hall; sometimes attributed to Samuel H. Pook
General characteristics
Tons burthen: 530 tons
Length: 128 ft. LOA
Beam: 30 ft. 6 in.
Draft: 16 ft.
Notes: 1 deck and hold beams partially decked [1][2]

The Race Horse was an 1850 clipper barque. She set a record of 109 days from New York to San Francisco during the first Clipper Race around the Horn.


Race Horse was similar to a barque built by Samuel Hall a few years earlier, the Coquette . The design of Race Horse has been credited to both Samuel Hartt Pook and to Samuel Hall. According to a letter written by Mr. Hall to the "Boston Daily Atlas", he asked Samuel Pook to make the models and molds for Race Horse based on the Coquette , with a few modifications, in order to help Mr. Pook to "get his name before the public."[3]

First Clipper Race Around the Horn, 1850

Race Horse performed well in the First Clipper Race Around the Horn, which took place in 1850. Race Horse sailed from Boston to San Francisco in 109 days (or 94 days, 14 hours land to land). She made Cape Horn just 52 days out on this trip, 20 miles offshore.[2]

"The keen rivalry between clippers led to races over thousands of miles of seas; and upon the result thousands of dollars were often wagered." [4]

The new clippers Race Horse, Celestial, and Mandarin challenged the Hoqua, the Sea Witch, Samuel Russell, and Memnon, which were old rivals in the China trade.

"Large sums of money were wagered on the result, the four older vessels having established high reputations for speed. The Samuel Russell was commanded by Charles Low, previously of the Hoqua, while the Hoqua was now commanded by Captain McKenzie; Captain Gordon was again in the Memnon, and Captain George Fraser, who had sailed with Captain Waterman as chief mate."[5]

The Samuel Russell knocked eleven days off the record, arriving first in San Francisco after 109 days from New York. Race Horse would also make a 109 day passage, but it was Hoqua that arrived next, having made a 120 day trip from New York. The following day Sea Witch arrived after a 97 day passage, knocking an additional 12 days off the record. The performance of Sea Witch was particularly astonishing because she had rounded Cape Horn during the Antarctic midwinter.

"The remaining ships arrived in the following order: Memnon, 123 days, Celestial, 104 days, Race Horse, 109 days from Boston, and Mandarin, 126 days from New York-- all 'exceptionally fine passages,' average passages of the time being 159 days." [5]

Voyage to Turkey

On Aug. 8, 1851, Race Horse sailed from Boston to Smyrna, Turkey under the command of Captain Searle, with several passengers who were en-route with their wives to work as missionaries in Armenia: Sanford Richardson, Edwin Goodell, and Benjamin Parsons.[6]


  1. Crothers, William L. (1997). The American-Built Clipper Ship, 1850-1856: Characteristics, Construction, Details. Camden, ME: International Marine. pp. xv. ISBN 0070145016. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Bruzelius, Lars (2000-01-08). "Clipper Ships: Race Horse (1850)". Race Horse. The Maritime History Virtual Archives. http://www.bruzelius.info/Nautica/Ships/Clippers/Race_Horse%281850%29.html. Retrieved June 25, 2010. 
  3. Bruzelius, Lars (1997). "Clippers, The Boston Daily Atlas, May 10, 1851". Clippers. The Maritime History Virtual Archives. http://www.bruzelius.info/Nautica/News/BDA/BDA%281851-05-10%29b.html. Retrieved June 25, 2010. 
  4. Ships and shipping of old New York: a brief account of the interesting phases of the commerce of New York from the foundation of the city to the beginning of the Civil War. New York City: Walton Advertising and Printing Company (Boston, Mass.); Printed for Bank of Manhattan Co. 1915. p. 56. http://books.google.com/books?id=6yy9VCMxK7cC&dq=clipper%20memnon&lr&num=100&as_brr=4&pg=PA56#v=onepage&q=clipper%20memnon&f=false. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Clark, Arthur H. (1910). The Clipper Ship Era, An Epitome of Famous American and British Clipper Ships, Their Owners, Builders, Commanders, and Crews, 1843-1869. Camden, ME: G.P. Putnam’s Sons. pp. 145–146. 
  6. "Western Asia. Mission to the Armenians". Annual Report of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (Boston, MA: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions) 42: 71. 1851. http://books.google.com/books?id=cxHPAAAAMAAJ&pg=RA3-PA71&dq=clipper+%22race+horse%22&hl=en&ei=nkolTJ-VCoT58Aa22b2wDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=39&ved=0CPEBEOgBMCY#v=onepage&q=clipper%20%22race%20horse%22&f=false.