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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