As the first tea cargoes to arrive in port received higher prices, large financial rewards encouraged clippers to race against each other. These races generated great excitement among traders and the general public.
Newspapers carried stories about the leading ships and the state of the race, bets were taken, and crowds gathered by the docks in London to witness the arrival of the vessels.
Early 17th century
Europeans begin tea trading with China, mainly in the port of Canton.
In response to the need for faster transportation, (tea would sometimes take between 6-8 months to arrive in London docks), the first clippers, 'Baltimore' and later 'Ann McKim' (1832), are built in America.
The first British clipper, the 'Torrington' is launched.
The British Government lifts its ban on foreign ships offloading tea in a British port. This results in 55.5 million lbs of tea being imported into Britain, and clipper races between American and British vessels begin in earnest.
The 'Cutty Sark' is launched at a time when steam ships and the opening of the Suez Canal results in faster journeys and the ultimate demise of the clippers.
By now, only a few clippers still operate, carrying mainly wool and various other cargos. The golden age of these graceful vessels is over.