Island administration invites yachts to berth INSIDE their harbour – at last!

A historic sailing trip to Robben Island on Worker’s Day saw a fleet of Royal Cape Yacht Club members and visitors tie up inside the Island’s Murray Harbour, courtesy of Robben Island administration.

The visit could be a precursor to a regular event to the mutual benefit of both the Island and the RCYC. The rejuvenated Island is seeking to improve visitor experience at the world famous site, and a sailing event would also accord with the Museum’s development mandate – as RCYC is keen to use the event to give development sailors and students a rare heritage experience.

RCYC is also keen to forge closer ties with the Island due to historic sailing links, and the Island stands to gain from additional revenue at a time of budget cuts and austerity.

Paul Morris, the RCYC member driving the project, said the Worker’s Day event followed discussions between RCYC and Island management regarding possible future events. He commended Island management for their vision in seeking new ways to enhance heritage appreciation.  Among the visitors on Sunday were students from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and the RCYC academy.  “In my view a future event would build an appreciation of what the Island means in terms of our history,” Morris said. “We would see it as a bridge-building exercise between the Club and the Island.”

“We are very much in favour of respecting the heritage of the Island,” Morris said.

About ten students accompanied the ten-yacht RCYC fleet on Worker’s Day.

One of the visitors described the event as ‘astonishing’, and said it had been a huge hit.

The Island recently confirmed a new ‘tri-partite’ alliance between Robben Island Museum, the Department of Public Works, and the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture. The alliance involves reviewing the Island’s current business model and follows a recent workshop that highlighted the need for RIM to investigate possible alternative sources of funding in addition to government grants: “Key to RIM’s risks is its entire reliance on government funding,” RIM said in a press release after the workshop. “Given the severe pressure on government coffers, against the backdrop of the pandemic, funding is prioritised for healthcare, education and other core mandates. This effectively limits resources to less critical entities such as those of cultural and heritage importance and there simply is not enough money to fund RIM entirely,” the statement said.

By allowing visiting yachts the Island could be a big step closer to financially sustainability.

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