The Arch and the New Deal

The Arch and the New Deal

The Arch and the New Deal

RCYC ACADEMY REPORT – by Lindani Mchunu

The oxford Dictionary definition of the word arch: a curved symmetrical structure spanning an opening and typically supporting the weight of a bridge, roof or wall above it.

That on its own says so much about our boat Archangel. One obviously would think of the biblical Archangel Michael, but a boat is a free agent and accommodates all with no fear or favour. This boat is an Arch indeed, it carries our dreams and aspirations, it points to our future and that is exactly how we like it. I don’t think I could summarise the story of Arch Angel in one newsletter. From the day we went to pick her up in Gordon’s Bay in February 2018 to her first sail on the 21st of February 2019, with a new engine and shiny new instruments. The work that has gone into this boat in the past year, cannot be summed up in words. I find it funny that when one takes on a project, which is focused on an inanimate object, so much life is required. The story of Arch Angel is not so much about the boat, but rather how a boat brought people together and tore them apart. It’s amazing to see how inanimate things can reveal so much about life.

The story of Arch Angel begins with a Commodore’s wish. The wish to see our academy have an offshore boat, a wish in part I believe, to leave a legacy. I find it funny how when people refer to wishes and dreams, they speak of them as though they will magically appear or some genie will make them come true. Nothing could be further from the truth. A commodore’s wish was going to take resources and people. Our commodore was well aware of that, but like us he believed it was more than just acquiring a boat, it was about introducing an element to our academy and club that would be a catalyst to dream bigger, be bolder and dig deeper. During the recession in America, Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced the New Deal. Without taking you on a history tour of the great depression. What I will say is an American president came into power, possibly at the worst time a man can be asked to lead a nation, part of his inaugural speech reads as follows, “First of all,” he said. “Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” America was on its knees, certain parts of the country were experiencing record levels of unemployment in certain towns of Massachusetts as high as 90% unemployment.

What would follow is a series of Law’s and Bills, social and economic stimulation programs the like America had never seen before, one thing was certain, action would be the order of the day. The one driving force behind FDR’s programmes was to give people back their sense of Dignity but most of all to inspire hope. He would later be quoted as saying, “when you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on for life.” During his administration, not only did he have to deal with a persistent recession but a World War, after Japan bombed Pearl harbour. The thoughts of many contemporaries of FDR’s during those trying times, were no man could have chosen a worse time to lead a nation. Yet as we all know, history tells a different tale, history tells us that a country faced with the worst possible circumstances rose to the occasion, because crisis causes people to band together and leave their differences aside for a common cause. “From 1933-1941, President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs and policies did more than just adjust interest rates, tinker with farm subsidies and create short-term make –work programs. They created a brand new, if tenuous, political coalition that included white working people, African Americans and left wing intellectuals. These people rarely shared the same interests- at least, they rarely thought they did-but they did share a powerful belief that an interventionist government was good for their families, the economy and the nation. Their coalition splintered over time, but many of the New Deal programs that bound them together- Social Security, unemployment insurance and federal agricultural subsidies, for instance are still in present day America.”

Here is where the crux of the matter is found. ArchAngel has been a necessary crisis, one that was introduced at a time when none of us were even sure whether we needed a boat, or how we were going to get it back into sailing condition. What is certain is, it brought unlikely people together and made them allies and what is certain is, it will be around long after all of us. Even though our commodore was not aware of this at the time, I believe his wish can be summed up in the following words from FDR, “we cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” So my friends now you know, what we are busy with, now you know what drives us. Our future might look bleak in a country that is always tethering on a complete breakdown of society, our future might look uncertain or destined for certain doom, but this academy will be damned if our youth are not prepared for it.

I believe ArchAngel, if my wishes do come true, will be on the start line for Mykonos Regatta tomorrow. Mr Commodore your Legacy is in procession…

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RCYC ACADEMY REPORT – by Lindani Mchunu

I cannot begin to explain to you how far down the rabbit hole we have gone. Our club, our academy is being discussed in board rooms far removed from the waters of Table Bay. To be honest with you I never imagined we could go as far as we have, I never imagined that I would be on first name basis with high ranking government officials. I never thought that our little academy would become a cog in the big wheel that is maritime education and training. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you that there are people who are seeking to take our little
academy and replicate it nationwide. As I have said on numerous occasions, we are at the point of no return.

We are heading in a direction that will require us to change a lot about ourselves. I have been mandated by the club to grow our academy in ways that will benefit not only the kids that come through our doors but our club as well. As we look at our uncertain future, not knowing what will become of our club and our sport, it is incumbent upon us to do whatever we can to ensure that our actions today echo our hopes for tomorrow. I know I will not be amiss if I say all of us wish to see this club remain here for another 100 years and beyond. Yet as much as our
predecessors had to face many challenges with the ever-shifting landscape that is our society, we too face challenges of our own. We cannot change, yet remain the same. We cannot transform yet keep our old ways. Change is uncomfortable at a very personal level, for instance I know that cigarettes are bad for me and every day I smoke one, I am literally killing myself, yet the motivation and discipline to quit is an ongoing struggle. Even when death is the consequence, the will to quit and change my bad habit is an ongoing struggle. Why? I reckon it is because I am not fully conscious of what is really going on inside my body every time I smoke. I am not currently suffering the consequences of my habit. If my body could bring the consequence immediately instead of delaying it, maybe it would hit home immediately, but maybe it would also be too late.

If I don’t stop smoking, I will be the one who will bear the brunt of my bad habit. Yet if we do not change collectively many will be affected, many will lose out and the future will be a sour one indeed. There have been occasions where some of my academy kids have made me aware of experiencing raw racism at our club, I have taken it in my stride hence I have never really spoken or written about it. I do not want to be the racism police. It’s boring and tiring to say the least, racism is a ghost. Yet most of all it is painful, because I cannot change the colour of my skin and I wouldn’t, even if I had the opportunity to. The Sun has decided to imprint itself on my skin and I have no issues with that. What bothers me is when someone decides that my skin colour is a reflection of my disposition and constitution, funny thing is, because of my command of the English language and my literary inclination most of these academy kids think that I am what is called a COCONUT. Black on the outside white on the inside, human beings at their best, always wanting to label things as though once you have labelled someone, he/she will remain true the properties you have bestowed upon them. Nothing could be further from the truth, life has proven over and over again, that evil men can be good and good men can be evil. Most things if not all things are ever as simple as black and white. I cannot ask for people to change who are unwilling, all I can say is racism at its core is painful, it makes one question their very essence and kills any dreams and aspirations one might have had for themselves once someone puts you immediately in a box and refuses to meet you and recognise your individuality. Mahatma Ghandi said one should never be anti-anything, one should always strive to be pro something, my hope is that in time this academy and I, will open the eyes of those who refuse to look at us as mere people who are trying to do right by life and contribute positively to our sport and club. I will continue to encourage and promote within our academy the ethos of community and responsibility to the whole. I am pro us division has never engendered peace and harmony. Wind and water folks that all we have in the end, wind and water. Our boat our crew that is all that will see us through the storms ahead.

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