OpSail organizers say about $300,000 raised
By Izaskun E. Larrañeta
New London - Organizers for OpSail2012CT are gaining ground in their fundraising efforts to bring the tall ships event to the region next summer.
John Johnson, chairman of OpSail2012CT, said about $300,000 of the $1 million needed for the event has been raised.
Johnson has asked the state for $500,000 to help organize the maritime festivities.
"We're aware of the funding request, but we have not finalized requests for FY13. It would be premature to comment," Andrew Doba, a spokesman for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, said Monday.
The city of New London has loaned $50,000 to the organization while it seeks funding.
"Our fundraising efforts are ongoing," Johnson said. "We have spoken to 15 to 20 companies. ... We're working hard at it."
Johnson said the next couple of weeks will shed some light on which tall ships will come. He has extended appearance fees to several tall ships from South America, including vessels from Colombia and Ecuador. A ship from Romania has also been invited. He expects them to either accept or decline the invitations in mid-February.
In addition to the U.S. Coast Guard training barque Eagle, Johnson said the training vessel Cisne Blanco from Brazil, a 377-foot cutter from the Japanese Coast Guard, a 610-foot Navy ship and The Pride of Baltimore will attend.
OpSail2012 could attract as many as 750,000 visitors, he said.
Johnson also served as chairman of OpSail2000, which brought dozens of tall ships to New London's water port and nearly 1 million visitors to the region.
Tall ships will travel to several U.S. cities, beginning April 17 in New Orleans and concluding in New London on July 6-9.
The four-day New London event is part of a national maritime celebration marking the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the writing of the "The Star-Spangled Banner."