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Blue Riband

The Blue Riband is an award held by the ship with the record for a transatlantic crossing. The first steam powered crossing of the Atlantic was in 1833. The Blue Riband was a creation of the transatlantic shipping companies in the 1860s, for the publicity opportunities of possessing the fastest ship. There were separate awards for the fastest eastbound and westbound crossings. It was represented by a blue penant in the top mast of the ship, until 1930 when Sir Harold Hales initiated a trophy. The Hales Trophy is awarded on the basis of average speed, since the distance of transatlantic routes varies. The last superliner to hold the trophy was the SS United States, which set a time that was not beaten until 1990

Some of the ships that held the record for the fastest crossing, with the date first achieved:

ShipDateTimeAverage Speed (knots)
SiriusApril 22, 183918d, 14h, 22m8.03
Great WesternApril 23, 183815d, 12h, 0m8.66
RMS LusitaniaMarch 31, 1894
SS Kaiser Wilhelm der GrosseNovember 29, 1897
DeutschlandJuly 12, 1900
MauretaniaDecember 5, 1907
BremenJuly 22, 1929
RMS Queen MaryAugust 24, 1936
SS United StatesJuly 7, 19523d, 10h, 40m35.6
Hoverspeed Great BritainJune 23, 19903d, 7h, 54m36.6
CataloniaJune 9, 199838.9
Cat-Link VJuly 20, 19982d, 20h, 9m41.3


Blue Riband is also sometimes used to highlight major sporting events. For example, in athletics the Blue Riband short distance event is the 100m sprint, while the middle distance version would be the mile or 1500m. In cycling the Blue Riband feat would be to break the world hour record.