Truant was designed and built for the prominent New Yorker Robert M. Grinnell by Fish & Morton ship wrights of New York, at the company's Pamrapo yard at Bayonne, New Jersey, in 1852. Half-decked, with the usual cockpit, and a large mainsail with a short gaff, the Truant was only 3½ tons and measured 20½ feet at the waterline (about 22 feet LOA) with a large beam of over 7 feet, she was typical of the 'sandbagger' design. Mr. Grinnell, owner of one of New York's largest shipping houses and a member of the New York Yacht Club, had only just taken delivery of Truant when he found it necessary to go to England on business. Knowing the extent of competitive yachting around the British Isles, he decided to take his new boat with him and she was shipped to Liverpool aboard the company's own clipper New World. Upon arrival, Truant took to the water at once and Grinnell won three races on the Mersey even before she was sent to London by train. In London, Grinnell joined the Royal Thames Yacht Club and entered Truant in the race scheduled for 18th May 1852. There were six entries in addition to Truant and the course, starting off Blackwall, was a run down-river and back. As the very first American to race on the Thames, the match attracted a great deal of attention, much of it adverse thanks to Truant's center board. Hunt's Yachting Magazine even went so far as to state: "Great anxiety was manifested to witness the start, owing to Truant being a Yankee clipper, the first that has ever sailed on the River Thames; and to her being fitted, not with a fair fixed keel, but with a centreboard or sliding keel; a dodge which enabled her to butter her toast on both sides, using the keel when beating and hauling it inboard when running." In the event, Truant romped home in 6 hours 14 minutes exactly, a full 23 minutes ahead of the Julia, which came in second, and despite the fact that virtually all the competitors were significantly heavier than Truant herself. More successes followed in 1853 and 1854 and, by the time Grinnell returned to New York, Truant had won wide recognition as a fast and able boat.