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Challenge was a clipper ship first launched May 24, 1851. It was intended to be the fastest clipper ship of it's time - indeed the fastest ship period. The name of the architect who designed it was John Griffiths. The shipbuilder was William H. Webb. The name of the Captain was Robert Waterman.

This was meant to be the largest, fastest, and sturdiest ship afloat, and the owners (the Griswold brothers) instructed the builders to spare no expense to that end. The captain was to receive a bonus of $10,000 in addition to the rest of his salary if he broke the record for the trip to San Francisco.

The Challenge took 108 days to make the passage, longer than the previous record. A rival ship, the Flying Cloud, took only 89 days and set a new record.

Sources:

Wired Magazine, January 2002.

http://pc-78-120.udac.se:8001/WWW/Nautica/Ships/Clippers/Challenge(1851).html : a timeline from the launching of the challenge to the end of it's life.