Thermopylae, 947 tons, was built by Walter Hood of Aberdeen in 1868. A splendid seaboat, she acquired her reputation for speed on her maiden voyage - a record run from Gravesend to Melbourne in 60 days - and thereafter lived up to this promise throughout her career, first in the China tea trade and then on the Australian wool run. Eventually bought by the Portuguese government in 1896 for use as a training ship, she was renamed Pedro Nunes but only survived until 1907 when she was sunk as a derelict. Considered by many to have been the fastest clipper of them all, some experts believe her to have been the fastest commercial sailing vessel ever launched; whatever the truth of these claims, she was, and has remained, one of the legends of the age of sail.
The American clipper Samuel Russell was built by Brown & Bell at New York in 1847. Ordered by A.A. Low & Brother and named for the senior partner in Russell & Co., China brokers, with whom Low's had an association, she was registered at 957 tons and measured 173 feet in length with a 34 foot beam. Slightly larger than the celebrated Sea Witch, she had been intended for the China Trade although she was also put onto the San Francisco run after the gold rush there started an unprecedented demand for both passenger berths as well as freight capacity. After her last passage to California in 1855, she returned to Far Eastern sailings and operated very successfully on several routes until wrecked off the Gaspar Straits, in the Java Sea, on 23rd November 1870.