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98-050 "Lusitania - Resolute"
1998, Acrylic on Illustration Board

The Titanic and her sister ship Olympic were an answer to the Cunard Line's speed queens Mauritania and Lusitania - here we see the "Lucy" resolutely knifing her way through an Atlantic swell. Titanic could never have beaten her rivals' records - contrary to what you may have heard in the movie "Titanic". A fast ship means a slender hull, and while Cunard's ships were racers, they suffered from a tendency to roll and pitch wildly in rough seas. The wider, more stable and slightly slower White Star Line sisters focused instead on luxurious comfort. But for those seeking the fastest passage across the Atlantic, especially in the calmer summer months, Mauritania and Lusitania were hard to outclass.

In future years, ship designers would move away from the incredibly sharp bow we see here on Lusitania; it seems to make common sense that a knife-edge cuts the water best, but in fact it generates a retarding swirl of suction. Modern cruise ships and later ocean liners had gracefully contoured forward lines to gently guide the water along the ship's side. One must admit, however, that Lusitania's proud forepeak looks spectacular, assaulting the ocean swell with the defiance of a true ocean monarch.

Chris Butler

Copyright 1994-2003 by Chris Butler
More of Chris Butler's art can be viewed at Novagraphics Space Art.