Skip Novak has been selected by the Cruising Club of America to receive the Club’s Blue Water Medal for 2014 in recognition of his many years of cruising and exploring the Antarctic. Cruising Club of America’s Commodore, Frederic T. Lhamon, will present the award at the club’s annual awards dinner at the New York Yacht Club in New York on March 6, 2015. The award was established in 1923 by the Club’s Governing Board to recognize examples of meritorious seamanship and adventure upon the sea by sailors of all nationalities.
Skip was born in Chicago in 1952 and started sailing at an early age. He has raced in four Whitbread around the World races and in 2001 co-skippered the 33-meter catamaran Innovation in The Race Around The World In 65 Days.
In 1987 Skip designed and built the steel cutter Pelagic for exploring the southern high latitudes and to allow him to pursue his passion for mountaineering. He has spent 26 seasons in Tierra del Fuego, South Georgia and Antarctica. Pelagic supported and often has starred in 15 documentary film projects. She has carried sailors, scientists, researchers and filmmakers to Antarctic shores.
Recognizing the need for another and bigger vessel Novak had Pelagic Australis built in Durbin, South Africa in 2003. The vessel is cutter-rigged, aluminum and 74 feel overall. Like her smaller sister Pelagic has a unique swinging ballast keel and rudder, which reduce draft, and allows the vessels to be beached without damage. Pelagic Australis was purpose built for exploration and can accommodate 10 guests and 2 crew. The vessel is equipped with a complete communication center allowing for worldwide contact.
Skip Novak is a firm believer in keeping it simple and having all aboard participate in shipboard duties. There are no “appliances” to fix. He says “the Pelagic way, means keeping it simple on a voyage of participation.” Skip does allow a luxury item on his expeditions, “plenty of red wine!”
Skip is well known for his contributions to sailors worldwide, with lectures, publications, and his beautiful photographs. He has written two books, “Fazisl the Joint Adventure” and “One Watch at a Time. Around the World with Drum on the Whitbread Race.”
When not sailing in icy waters, Skip lives with his family in Hout Bay, South Africa.