The Taeping was designed and built for speed. The goal was to contend with the Fiery Cross, which was the fastest ship in the China tea trade. But during her first year of service, a series of mishaps kept the Taeping out of competition, so it wasn't until the following year that the ships could compete.
The race was between the Fiery Cross, Ariel, Serica and Taeping, which were the fastest clippers in the China tea trade. A voyage lasted over 100 days and covered nearly three-quarters of the globe. Racing all the way, the strain on the ship and crew was unimaginable. The ships would sight each other briefly, only to disappear again as each skipper used all his knowledge, seamanship and experience in an effort to win the premium paid to the first ship to land.
The race began as the ships crossed the Min River bar on the last day of May. By August they had crossed the equator and were racing up the Atlantic. At this point, Ariel held the lead with Taeping and Fiery Cross battling for second.
Although Ariel reached the English Channel first, the Taeping was right behind her. The two ran up the channel and hailed for a tow. The Taeping's tug was faster, so she docked a half hour before the Ariel, winning this extraordinary race. Though difficult to imagine, the Taeping, Ariel and the Serica all left China on the same tide in May, and all docked in the Thames on the same tide three months later!
The Taeping's last voyage came in the early 1870's. She sailed from Amoy to New York and was wrecked on Ladd's Reef. Only the Mate's boat, with six men aboard, was found after three days of drifting.
In this image, the brush of artist Efren Erese captures this fine ship in her glory.