Sir Lancelot (clipper)

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Career United Kingdom
Builder: Robert Steele and Co., Greenock
Launched: 1865
Career India
Owner: Visram Ibrahim
Acquired: 1886
Notes: India-Mauritius trade
Career Persia
Acquired: 1895
Out of service: 1895
General characteristics
Class and type: Extreme composite clipper
Tons burthen: 886 NRT
Length: 197 ft. 6 in.
Beam: 33 ft. 7 in.
Draught: 21 ft.
Sail plan: "Double topsails on the fore and main masts." "A single mizzen roller-reefing topsail of Cunningham's patent." [1]

Sir Lancelot was a clipper ship which sailed in the China trade and the India-Mauritius trade.

Built in 1865 by Robert Steele & Co, Greenock, Sir Lancelot was "a beautiful tea clipper"[2] called the Yacht of the Indian Ocean.

Sir Lancelot was typical of all of Steele's ships, celebrated for their beauty of model, perfection of build, and superb finish.[2] In the poem By the Old Pagoda Anchorage, she is referred to as "Sir Lancelot of a hundred famous fights with wind and wave."[3]

Voyages and races

Captain Richard 'Dickie' Robinson of Workington was persuaded to leave the Fiery Cross to take charge of the new clipper. In a letter to naval historian Basil Lubbock, Sir Lancelot's owner John McCunn wrote; "Robinson was the best man I ever had in any ship and knew he got the best racing results out of Sir Lancelot".[4]

In the Clipper Race of 1869, Robinson and Sir Lancelot established a new record between China and England. On the 85th day after leaving Fuzhou she passed The Lizard and on the 87th passed Dungeness. [Thermopylae (clipper)|Thermopylae] and Titania made passages of 91 days from Fuzhou and 98 days from Shanghai respectively in the same year.[4]

Commander Dickie Robinson left Sir Lancelot because of his wife's sudden death. Under Captain Edmonds, Sir Lancelot went out to Hong Kong in 97 days and came home from Fuzhou in 104 days. But with the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, races between the clippers lost their real significance and ships concentrated on passages to New York.[4]

In 1895, under Persian ownership, she was rumoured to have sunk on 1 October during a cyclone near Sand Heads, Calcutta whilst on passage from the Red Sea loaded with salt.

Ship's model