The closest Cutty Sark came to winning the tea race was in 1872. On arriving in Shanghai in late May 1872, she met a rival ship, the Thermopylae when loading her tea cargo. They both set sell on 17th June 1872 and were closely matched for much of the journey.
Thanks to a strong tail wind, by 7th august, Cutty Sark had a 400 mile lead on the Thermopylae, however disaster struck on 15th August, when her rudder gave way. Having reconstructed the rudder twice in heavy seas, she made it back to London on 19th October, 7 days after the Thermopylae.
Sadly, Cutty Sark never came that close again and in 1877 she moved on to other cargo transportation including travelling to and from Australia carrying the likes of coal and wool.
Following a number of transfers of ownership and undergoing a couple of restorations, sadly following a closure to the public in 2006 for restoration, she suffered a major fire on board in 2007 causing considerable damage, delays and drainage of funds.
Thankfully, following an extraordinary uplift grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, restoration is now complete and this magnificent ship is open to the public once more and looking for majestic than ever.