Thirty years ago, a ship built in Hobart by Incat Tasmania, Hoverspeed Great Britain, challenged for the coveted Hales Trophy that recognizes the fastest commercial passenger ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. The 74-meter Hoverspeed Great Britain left New York on her Transatlantic Challenge voyage arriving in at Bishop Rock on England’s south coast on 23rd June 1990. The crossing achieved in 3 days, 7 hours and 54 minutes.
The previous record had held for 38 years, the USS United States having taken it in 1952 after a long list of transatlantic challenges by the great passenger liners over the previous century. Two Incat built ships have since shaved time off the 1990 transatlantic record, the 91-meter Catalonia (Incat 047) in June 1998, and another Incat 91 meter Catlink V (Incat hull 049) in July 1998. The 2 day 20 hours and 9 minute record set by the Danish Catlink V is still held today. It is the first time in the history of Transatlantic records (dating back to the 1860s) that three ships to win the trophy in succession had been built by the same shipyard.
Although the records began in the 1860s the Hales Trophy was created and first awarded in 1935. The original 1-meter high gilded Hales Trophy is on display in Denmark, but a full replica made in 1990 is on display at Incat Tasmania’s shipyard in Hobart.
The Hales Trophy is awarded to “The Ship which shall for the time being, have crossed the Atlantic Ocean at the highest average speed”, and the voyage must be without re-fuelling.
The three Incat record-holders are still in service 22 years after breaking the Transatlantic record.