OpSail delegation thanks Malloy for contributions, looks to future events

Hartford — A delegation of New London OpSail organizers journeyed to the state Capitol Monday to brief Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman on their new five-year schedule of major schooner festivals and plans for another full-scale OpSail in 2015.

The kickoff schooner festival is set for Sept. 11-15, 2013. The schooners would race from Provincetown, Mass., to the New London area as part of an East Coast circuit. While in eastern Connecticut, half the ships may go to the Mystic Seaport and the others to New London.

"Our maritime heritage here in the state should be celebrated all of the time," OpSail2012CT Chairman John Johnson told Malloy. "It should be an economic engine for jobs … and I think we're on the right track. We need to play on our successes at OpSail."

The OpSail event is to return to New London in 2015 to commemorate the end of the war of 1812. Johnson said this future OpSail would likely feature more tall ships from across the globe than last month's did "because by 2015 we think the world economy will be a lot better off."

He and the other local OpSail organizers — Vice Chairman Kevin Cavanagh, board member Peggie Cosgrove and public relations official Bruce MacDonald — thanked Malloy and Wyman for supporting the joint OpSail and Sailfest extravaganza.

They presented twin framed posters of The Day's July 8 front page with the headline "OPSAIL MEETS SAILFEST."

"Gorgeous!" Malloy proclaimed; "Beautiful!" declared Wyman.

The governor and lieutenant governor were both passengers that day on the flotilla's lead vessel, the Coast Guard barque Eagle. Malloy jokingly pointed to a spot on the ship's port side. "Here's the lieutenant governor, leaning over the side," he said, drawing laughter.

State funds provided $300,000 for OpSail2012CT, with donations bringing in an additional $600,000.

Johnson told The Day that bills are still coming in, but he doesn't expect any cost overruns.

He was glad that Malloy and Wyman liked their commemorative gifts.

"I trust they're going to hang them in their offices," Johnson said. "The governor loves history, and this was a historic event."

Joining the delegation Monday was Bob Ross, executive director of the state Office of Military Affairs.

j.reindl@theday.com

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