Tall Ships America set out to make its Tall Ships Challenge Atlantic Coast 2012 series, a success that would be remembered for years to come, and with the help of local organizers, the non-profit organization achieved its goal with flying colors.

More than 20 member tall ships, representing six nations, traveled up the Eastern Seaboard this summer, participating in one or more maritime festivals in Savannah, Ga., Greenport, N.Y., Newport, R.I. and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Public participation trumped all expectations, as visitors thronged the waterfront to tour the ships and join a bi-national celebration of maritime heritage.

“The Tall Ships Challenge Atlantic Coast 2012 series was a fantastic experience, and each port event was executed without a hitch,” said Tall Ships America Executive Director Bert Rogers (Newport, R.I.), adding that between ports, participating Tall Ships Challenge vessels were able to compete in four offshore races: from Savannah to Cape Fear, N.C.; a sprint from Greenport; a sprint out of Newport; and a sprint along Nova Scotia to Halifax Harbor. “The ships raced and sailed safely, each vessel fulfilling her own particular mission of youth training, leadership development, and historical preservation. The Tall Ships Challenge series allows us to showcase for the general public the outstanding work that these vessels do every day.”

The festivals were all very well attended, but Halifax was the largest. Though the actual numbers are still being analyzed, event organizers anticipate that it will closely resemble the 2009 festival, which had over 600,000 attendees and $32.8 million in economic impact. “Our vision was to showcase the best of Nova Scotia and ensure that the captains and their crew had the opportunity to experience Halifax at its best,” said President and CEO of Waterfront Development Colin MacLean. “The ships were magnificent, and the crew members graciously received tens of thousands of visitors aboard for public tours. We believe that the 2012 event was the best one yet.”

At press time, Newport’s Ocean State Tall Ships® Festival had disclosed actual numbers for 2012 of 115,000 for total attendance and 23,000 tickets sold. According to Savannah officials, this closely mirrored the impact of its own city’s festival, which kicked off the series in May with an estimated 24,500 tickets sold and over 75,000 people in attendance.

“The fleet of domestic and international tall ships that graced Savannah’s riverfront reflected a special time in our city’s maritime history,” said Visit Savannah President Joseph Marinelli. “Kicking off the Tall Ships Challenge series in our historic southern city made for a unique and authentic way to start the event. The Savannah Tall Ships Festival was a success on many levels with visitors and locals alike looking forward to its return in the future.”

The Greenport event also saw strong attendance with an emphasis on visitors from New York City and surrounding areas. “The tall ships event did exactly what was intended,” said The Village of Greenport’s Mayor David Nyce. “It showcased our village for new visitors from near and far, provided a family-friendly event that kick-started what is turning out to be an extremely successful summer season, and celebrated the unique maritime history that is an invaluable part of Greenport’s story.”

For more information about Tall Ships America or to learn how to sign aboard a tall ship, visit www.tallshipsamerica.org.

Caption: The 159-foot topsail schooner Pride of Baltimore II and the 180-foot full-rigged ship Bounty sail into Halifax, Nova Scotia for the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Atlantic Coast 2012 series (photo credit Tall Ships America)
 

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