Trans-Atlantic tall ship race open to Mass. public
BOSTON—Months of squabbling between the mayor of Boston and organizers of the Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge 2009 ended with a deal that should provide clear sailing for a scheduled five-day visit by the vessels next month.Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick on Wednesday announced a deal they brokered to cover security costs associated with the event and allow free public access to the tall ships—usually square-rigged sailing ships with tall masts.
Menino had threatened to keep spectators away from docks and said he would ask the Coast Guard to bar the tall ships from entering Boston Harbor unless Sail Boston, the sponsors of the event, paid the city for security costs. He maintained that the city was being forced to tighten its belt fiscally and could not afford the additional police overtime.
Sail Boston 2000, the last such extravaganza, drew 2 million visitors to the waterfront. That event cost the city $2 million in police overtime, security and other costs, Menino said in 2004.
The plan includes a $1 million contribution by the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority to cover security costs and an agreement by the Massachusetts Port Authority to bear the costs of docking at Massport’s piers.
Sail Boston also agreed to pay $250,000 to defer Massachusetts State Police costs.
“Government works best when all parties work together,” Menino said in a statement. “Hosting a public event that is both
free and open to all will be a welcome attraction this year as many of our residents and families are cutting back on vacation travel.”This year, nearly 50 ships set off in late April from Vigo, Spain, for the trans-Atlantic journey. They will make five other stops—in the Canary Islands, Bermuda, the United States and Canada—before concluding in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in August.
The first of the ships’ two American stops will be in Charleston, S.C., where they arrive June 25 for the city’s Harbor Fest for a five-day visit before continuing on to Boston on July 8.
Some previously planned elements of the event have been scaled back in Boston because of financial constraints. A parade of tall ships into the harbor has been scrapped, as have two fireworks displays.