Upon completion she sailed out of our river, never to return, but what a reputation she gained for bother her owner, and her brilliant builders at Laings. The Elders line had many superb vessels built by Laings, prior to the Torrens including the Beltana, the Glen Osmond, Collingrove, with each vessel a masterpiece, unequalled in their time for strength and speed.
No wonder both elders and Captain Angel came to Laings for his final masterpiece.
Her design showed her to be heavily sparred, and carried a main sky sail yard, and for many years she was the only vessel with studding sail booms in the Australia trade, and the statement may key to her dominance. She set a new outward journey record very early in her career, with a passage of 64 days for her 16,000 mile journey, and over a fifteen year under Captain H.R. Angel her average time was 74 days, which was well the capability of any other clipper on the route.
Many other shipping line tried unsuccessfully to beat her, even sailing with double crews, and the "Harbinger" was specifically for that purpose, but failed in all of her attempts. She was never driven like a western packet, but what was the secret of her marvellous speed, when light winds or the doldrums brought most ships to a stand still. The secret lies in her yardarms, where it recently discovered by two friends in Sunderland Museum, that she equipped with telescopic studding sail booms, which enabled her to capture the lightest breeze, and thereby make leeway.
The art of furling and unfurling studding sails, which attached to the main yard arms, even in calm weather is a very difficult operation, and most captains avoided this practice. However it appears to that Captain H.R, Angel, had divised a secret way to achieve this others failed, as every commentator I had read speaks of her marvellous sailing qualities, even in the very light winds. The sudding sails were an extension of canvas, outside of the normal sails, which gave many yards of extra sail area to capture any breeze or gentle wind. They were dangerous to erect or use in anything but the lightest of airs, but could create a distinct advantage if used as Captain Angel obviously did.
The shipyard workers in Sunderland built their ship to last, and they needed to be built that way, for the Australian line clippers were bound for the most dangerous, stormy water on the planet. They were destined for the perilous seas of the southern oceans, they were bound for the roaring forties, and furious fifties, which around Antarctica in the higher southern latitudes, in a west to east circular route. The power of these winds is enormous, raising mountainous seas, yet this was the route chosen by these intrepid sailors, as these winds created the record run of 300 to 350 miles a day, by sheer wing power. They were not wings they were hurricanes, howling gales, screaming through the rigging with never ending power, plus the great snow storms and blizzards of blinding ferocity.