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date: 25 June 2022

Blue Riband of the Atlantic

A Dictionary of Travel and Tourism

Allan Beaver

Blue Riband of the Atlantic 

Commonly used description of the Hales Trophy, awarded by the Trustees to the current holder of the record for a crossing of the Atlantic ocean by a vessel carrying passengers commercially. The Hales Trophy for the Blue Riband was donated in 1934 by a former British MP Howard Hales, to inspire developments in marine engineering. But the Blue Riband itself is much older, dating back to 1838. The holder is Great Britain, a UK Hoverspeed wave-piercing catamaran (SeaCat), operating as a cross-channel ferry. On 23 June 1990, she crossed the finishing line (the Bishop Rock lighthouse off the Scilly Isles) after a journey of 3 days, 7 hours and 54 minutes, with an average speed of 36.6 knots. She beat the previous record holder, the SS United States, by 2 hours 46 minutes over the 4700-km (2922-mile) course set 38 years before. The trust deed for the Hales Trophy clearly intends it for passenger ships, which qualifies the Great Britain. Other vessels that have not met the qualifications have crossed the Atlantic faster than the SS United States; the Virgin Atlantic Challenger II clipped 4 hours 9 min off the record in 1986, for example.