Johnson says he'll form new group to pursue New London tall ships event

New London — John Johnson, newly resigned from the chairmanship of OpSail Connecticut, said Wednesday he plans to form a new nonprofit organization to pursue funding for a tall ships event in New London next summer.

He said "Tall Ships New London 2020" would function separately from OpSail, whose future appears uncertain.

Johnson resigned this week amid what he said was some OpSail board members’ reluctance to partner with Newport, R.I.-based Tall Ships America, which is interested in New London as a port of call for tall ships participating in a series of events along the East Coast.

On Wednesday, Johnson provided The Day with a copy of a Tall Ships New London 2020 logo.

“It would allow me to come back in and play a role,” Johnson said of the nonprofit he intends to form. “If we’re going to go after money from the state, Tall Ships America can’t do it. I have some key people in mind who know how to go about it.”

He said he sees Tall Ships New London 2020 operating “under the umbrella” of Tall Ships America.

As for OpSail and its signature event, the annual Connecticut Maritime Heritage Festival, Johnson said he was no longer involved. Kevin Cavanaugh, the OpSail vice chairman, and Robin Goldschlager, the treasurer, also have resigned from the organization's Executive Committee, leaving just one officer in place — Marian Galbaith, the secretary.

“It’s up to OpSail people to decide if they want to continue,” Johnson said.

Galbraith said she expected OpSail’s board of directors to meet soon to determine a course of action.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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