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Sovereign of the Seas
The Sovereign of the Seas running off and taking in sail.
Oil on canvas (1050 x 750)mm

The famous American shipbuilder Donald McKay built the Sovereign of the Seas with the intention of launching the largest and fastest sailing ship in the world at that time.  She slid down the ways in June, 1852 and under the houseflag of Grinnell & Minturn's Swallow Tail Line and left New York for San Francisco on 4 August.

Her rig was larger than any previous clipper.  She carried 2000 running yards of canvas under plain sail and had a main lower mast measuring 93ft.  Her measurements were 2,421 registered, length between perpendiculars 258 ft.,breadth 44ft. and depth 23ft.

On her first voyage, after a good run down the Atlantic and round the Horn, while heading north off the Chilian coast, she lost her fore and main topmasts and everything above.  Captain Lauchlan McKay, the younger brother of Donald, declined to put into a Chilian port and carried out a remarkable feat of seamanship in re-rigging her at sea.

Homeward bound from San Francisco that voyage, while running for the Horn she covered 3,144 miles in ten days, at one time logging 19 knots.  Later, under German ownership it was claimed she made 22 knots.  The Sovereign proved to be a powerful ship, able to carry sail before strong winds.  On her return from the first voyage, having made a record homeward passage from Honolulu of 82 days, she was taken across the Atlantic and sold to the Liverpool Black Ball Line and the Australian emigrant trade.  She only made one round trip and was sold to the Germans.

1859 she ran onto a shoal in the Malacca Strait and became a total loss.