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White Wings Vol I. Fifty Years Of Sail In The New Zealand Trade, 1850 TO 1900

An Ocean Race

An Ocean Race.

the Crusader has been credited with having made the record passage out to Port Chalmers in 65 days during 1878, when commanded by Captain Renaut.

I believe the key to the puzzle of this supposed record run to Port Chalmers has been supplied by Mr E. F. Warren, of Remuera, Auckland, who writes a most interesting account of a 65-day passage the Crusader made from Lyttelton to the English Channel. It should be explained that a passage Home from New Zealand was a very different thing from a passage to New Zealand from the Old Country, as owing to the nature of the trade winds the Homeward passages were generally done in much faster time than the outward trips. It is most probable that this 65-day voyage is the one that has misled people as to the Crusader's alleged record between London and Port Chalmers

Mr. Warren writes: "So far as my memory serves me it was in 1877 that the Crusader, the Avalanche and the Ocean Mail had a memorable ocean race Home. the Crusader went Home in 65page 37days, land to land, and the Avalanche in 78 days. The ships left their respective ports on or about the same date, the Avalanche and Ocean Mail from Wellington on the same day, and the Crusader from Lyttelton. the Avalanche (Shaw, Savill) was in charge of Captain Williams, a very popular and able commander, and the Ocean Mail (New Zealand Shipping Company) in command of Captain Roberts. As the Avalanche and Ocean Mail proceeded down the Wellington Harbour a heavy "southerly buster" sprang up, and the Avalanche anchored off Worser Bay. the Ocean Mail put back and anchored off Soames Island. The following morning with a fair wind both ships sailed away. the Avalanche on this occasion carried about one hundred passengers.
the Crusader At Port Chalmers.

the Crusader At Port Chalmers.

Both ships were becalmed for a day off the Chatham Islands, and Captain Roberts paid a visit to the Avalanche.

A large number of fine albatrosses were sailing about the ships, and several were shot for their skins, which were presented to some ladies on the Avalanche. The sailors predicted bad luck from killing these birds, and strange to relate, Captain Roberts' boat was stove in against our ship's side, and he had to be conveyed back in one of the boats belonging to the Avalanche. A breeze coming up we parted company that evening and never sighted the Ocean Mail again, but when our pilot came aboard in the English Channel we were informed that the Ocean Mail had gone ashore and was totally wrecked at the Chathams. When rounding Cape Horn and in sight of land we sighted a full rigged ship, sailing much closer to the Cape and rapidly overhauled her. To our surprise it was the Crusader. By evening we had left her hull down astern.