Ariel was one of the first British composite clippers to be the only A-Clipper. It was built to serve London with Foochow in China at the time when the tea trade gave rise to fierce regattas. It was commissioned by the Shaw, Lowther, Maxton & Co of London at the Robert Steele & co yards of Greenock. Its hull was composite, with steel pairs and a teak deck. Its sail was innovative with the addition of an additional sail (usually the square headlights were 5 stories).

It measured 197.4 feet between perpendiculars (hull alone), which was about 60.16 meters long by 10.33 meters wide and measured 853 tonnes net in the register, and more than 1060 gross. 100 tons of steel ballast was added in its hull, to perfect its stability and to compensate for its high mast height. In October 1865 he was launched for his first major crossing to China (Gravesend-Hong Kong) and returned, under the command of Captain Keay in 79 days and 21 hours from pilot to pilot, or 83 anchorage Which was in itself a fine feat, and the following year, in 1866, he took part in the great tea race with other famous clippers, the Tapping, the Fiery Cross, and the Taitsing. He was famous for his very short defeat against the Taeping, who arrived 20 minutes before him at the London docks.

Ariel vs Taeping tea clippers race

The Ariel in 1868 (in the background), running against the Taeping back to England (img wiki ldd).

This was only the first of the confrontations between the two ships. The Ariel will take revenge two years later. In 1867 he was beaten for several hours by Sir Lancelot, unable to master the tea courses after another 99-day epic race from Foochow, passing as usual through the Cape of Good Hope. Finally, in 1868, the laurels fell to the point for the Ariel, who passed his long-time rival, the Taeping, one hour ahead of him, and the satisfaction of his shipowners who pocketed the gains plus 10 pounds tonne. Although wearing a larger sail area than the Taeping, the Ariel was known to be wider and less hydrodynamic than its conccurent. But the following year, in November, after 11 years of Pharaonic work, the suez canal was inaugurated. From then on, the great era of the tea races was over, and the Ariel, like many other clippers, lost its raison d'etre.

Its owners, however, found it a new occupation, with the trade of wool between Melbourne and London. Again, speed played a significant role, and because of a Panama channel, it was necessary to bypass South America via Cape Horn. On the other hand, only the return gave rise to competition, the going being done with heavy loads various. Australia, from penitentiary, turned into a colony. The last crossing was the Ariel, which began in 1872. Commanded by Captain Talbot, he left Sydney on 31 January, but never arrived in London. In August, there was a lifeboat with a lifejacket worn by a Ariel Gothic "A". It is assumed that the ship sank after passing the course of good hope, somewhere in the southern sea. One has never located his wreck and so the causes of his disappearance remain mysterious ... The fact that he transported only wool and not more wagon loads was also a reason for the lack of enthusiasm of wreck hunters At his place ...