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Ukrainians pitch in for Odessa bid

The stormy fund-raising efforts of the Odessa sailing yacht had a day of successful calm Thursday.

Officials of the Odessa, the Ukrainian yacht drydocked in Tampa, confirmed that Ukraine citizens had donated more than $18,000 to help the team complete payment of its Whitbread Race entry fee. The Whitbread is a nine-month, 33,000-mile, around-the-world race scheduled to begin Sept. 25.

One of Capt. Anatoly Verba's crew members returned home to the Ukraine to attend to his pregnant wife and helped solicit funds in that former Soviet province.

"To put into perspective how big this news is and what kind of commitment is coming from Ukraine, Captain Verba had mention that the salary of people from the Ukraine may very well be between $5 and $15 (a month)," said Don Mains, an events management and marketing consultant working with the crew. "So you could imagine for the people of the Ukraine to come up with another $18,000 is truly amazing."

The crew still seeks more than $2.5-million to fund its quest. Mains said the crew needs at least $1-million to complete construction of the boat. More than $400,000 is needed for sails, and another $60,000 is needed for a mast.

Those interested in helping the Odessa can contact Earth Ocean Sail Inc. president Lerea Goldthwaite at (813) 254-5001.