Bitter sweet, by Lindani Mchunu.

The many that have spoken to me over the past few weeks, the tone has been the same, they all had one thing to say really, “to be expected Lindani, at some point you had to go”. Yet that viewpoint under-scores something very important. Leaving is never expected at home. For indeed RCYC became home. As I had said, working here became more than a job.

One of my last initiatives that I was a part of, was the mentorship program we recently facilitated with the City of Cape Town. In the room were almost 30 learners from various institutions of higher learning in our surrounds. One of them was Cape Peninsula University of Technology. The students came from various parts of the Cape Flats. Most if not all of them were seeing the Club for the very first time.

What really amazed me about the whole interaction was, the presence of the Commodore Neil Gregory, Vice Commodore Alan Hafaele, RCYC president John Levine and General Manager Toni Mainprize. In the Main Hall, on the carpet sat the students and in front of them, sitting on chairs were the executive committee of RCYC. Everyone, sitting on the chairs had to tell the learners about themselves, where they were born, their first job, how they got into sailing and what they do for a living.

It was interesting to hear these diverse stories that exist within our Club, it was also profound to recognise the fact that these people from very different backgrounds and upbringing were bound by a single passion. A love for sport and what it meant to them individually. It was my very first-time seeing Neil have an intimate one on one conversation with a young Xhosa girl from Khayelitsha. John Levin in deep conversation with a coloured boy from Mitchell’s Plein.

In any other setting such a conversation would be almost impossible. My success at the Club was closely linked to my ability to access great minds, in the committees I sat on and the conversations I had with Club members over the years. I have said this for years and I will continue to say it beyond my tenure. The greatest asset of the Royal Cape Yacht Club is its membership. The future of the Club rests on its ability to pull the full might of its most precious resource, or not.

Sailing is but one aspect of what is possible at RCYC, transformation is the real prize. Transformation not so much of what we do, but rather of how we do it and whom it benefits. The transference of skills and knowledge, the guidance and mentorship of under privileged youth. The empowerment of those that seek opportunity but are not reflected in the demographic of the membership. I believe all these things are possible because I believe in the leadership I have worked with. There is a steady hand on the wheel. We just must tack.

This article I believe is directed at you the membership of RCYC. It was my honour and pleasure to be a custodian of your most precious and prized possession, your Academy. The vehicle by which you as RCYC can reach out into the depths of despair and say here you are, young boy or girl, here is a dream for you to chase. Alan, Neil, Toni, John, there is not much more I can say, that I have not said in committee meetings, or in private chats.

The transformation strategy exists. Its not perfect but it’s a start. Cast away the fear, sail away. I am almost certain it will be rough; it will be wet, and it will be cold. Yet that is sailing after all, we still go out and chase the sun anyway. The race is cancelled due to unfavourable conditions, guess what we wait for, the next wind of opportunity, with as much anticipation as the last missed opportunity. For someone like me, who has had the privilege of knowing all of you, it’s impossible for me to label you all as enemies of progress. This is what I know.

Sailing is one of the most incredible past times any human being can take part in. It is a way of life that ultimately defines a life. The membership of the Club love this past time and I believe would support all of you, in doing whatever is necessary to ensure its longevity and prosperity. From the only black guy in the room, to all of you that collaborated in making huge goals a reality, I say to you. “We are sailors’, inclement weather only means we will sail another day.”

See you on the water.

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