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On her third voyage with Captain Moodie as Master, both ships, Cutty Sark and Thermopylae left Shanghai on 17 June 1872 bound for London via the Cape. Great excitement flowed through both crews as they sighted each other's ship while sailing down to Borneo. In mid-July they were level, but then Cutty Sark caught the southeast trades and really started to fly. The logbooks reveal that she was some 400 miles ahead when disaster struck. On 14 August, a heavy sea tore the rudder from its bolts.

Robert Willis, the brother of John Willis the ship's owner, was on board taking the voyage for his health. Robert Willis begged Captain Moodie to head for South Africa and to put in to port for the repairs, but Captain Moodie would have none of it, and the two men nearly came to blows!

The Captain prevailed, and for five days hove to in heavy rolling seas whilst the ship's carpenter, Henry Henderson, with the help of other members of the crew constructed and positioned a temporary rudder. By this time Thermopylae was 500 miles ahead.
Cutty Sark steered surprisingly well with her jury rudder, but speed had to be kept down when the winds were on beam.

In the South Atlantic the rudder was once more hauled on deck for emergency repairs, but there were no problems this time and after two days the ship was under way again.

On 18 October she passed Gravesend, 122 days out from Shanghai - Thermopylae having won the race in 115 days - but the glory went to Captain Moodie. This did not stop him resigning, however, because of the row he had had with Robert Willis, and despite the pleas of the owner, John Willis, Moodie began a new career in steam ships.


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