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blue riband


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Traditionally held by the ocean liner making the fastest crossing of the Atlantic. It is said to have originated in the 1860s when shipping companies wanted to publicize the speed of their passenger ships, and the ship holding it flew a blue pennant from one of its masts. It was formalized in 1933 when a 1.22-metre (4-ft) high trophy was donated by a British MP, Harold Hales, now known as the Hales Trophy. It was first awarded to the Italian liner Rex, but before it could be handed over a new record was established in 1935 by the French liner Normandie. So the trophy's trustees inserted a new clause into the deed of gift which allowed a holder to retain it for three months before passing it to the next winner. However, when the Cunarder Queen Mary established a new record in 1938, the company refused to accept it, implying it was more concerned with safety than speed. The trophy was therefore returned to the trustees who next awarded it to the United States, which in 1952 created a new transatlantic record of 3 days, 10 hours, 40 minutes. This remained unbroken until the end of the era of transatlantic liners, and when the United States retired from the North Atlantic route in 1969 the trophy was handed to the US Merchant Marine Academy, Long Island, USA.

In 1985 the 22-metre (72-ft) powerboat Virgin Atlantic Challenger II broke the record by 2 hours, 9 minutes. However, the Academy refused to hand over the trophy as it considered the powerboat ineligible to compete, since it was not a commercial passenger ship, a decision the trophy's new trustees later endorsed. In July 1990 a Seacat, Hoverspeed Great Britain, a new breed of catamaran ferry, made the crossing in 3 days, 7 hours, 54 minutes, and after discussion the trophy was handed over to the Seacat's owners. Since 1998 the Hales Trophy has been held by a Danish catamaran ferry, the 91.3-metre (300-ft) Cat-Link V, which crossed in 2 days, 20 hours, 9 minutes at an average speed of just over 41 knots. It also created another world record by covering 1,018.5 nautical miles in 24 hours.

Mackenzie-Kennedy, C., The Atlantic Blue Riband (1993).

Subjects: Maritime History.


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