Skip is an old friend. I would not dare to compare myself to Skip and his accomplishments. We are however part of a sailing generation that, as you will read, remember the sport in a different light. There was still humor and diversity.
23 May 2011Share |
Novak latest Legends Ambassador
Skip Novak, skipper of Whitbread 1985-86 entry, Drum (famously owned by British rock star Simon Le Bon), is now an Ambassador to the Volvo Ocean Race Legends.
“My genre of deep water sailor men, and I do mean ‘men’ as this was before women joined in earnest with Maiden in 1989, were generally characters of the first degree. Vagabonds, misfits, rebels without cause and pub test-pilots manned the sheets.”
The American has completed four races, his first time finishing second as navigator with King’s Legend at the age of 25 in 1977-78. Novak is the fourth Ambassador to the event, joining Lady Pippa Blake, Magnus Olsson and Sir Chay Blyth CBE, BEM.
“I admit to becoming an ‘addict’ back in the early Whitbread era when, for the best part of 15 years, my life by-and-large revolved around four circumnavigations between the second instalment of the Whitbread until after the 1989-90 race,” says Novak.
“Very few people back then made a living out of the Whitbread race; rather a living was made in between the races with a view to be in a position to do the next one. This meant full time employment with commitment was an anathema, and the possibility of not getting a berth was an emotional crisis.
“My genre of deep water sailor men, and I do mean ‘men’ as this was before women joined in earnest with Maiden in 1989, were generally characters of the first degree. Vagabonds, misfits, rebels without cause and pub test-pilots manned the sheets. They were not the top racing technicians of the day (who looked upon the likes of us as having a screw loose), but instead were generally good seamen offshore, looking for an adventure and a bit of fun onshore and the Whitbread race provided all of that and more.
“Alas, there is no room in today’s fleet for the likes of that lot and certainly not their hi-jinks, some of which still cannot be printed nor repeated in mixed company!
“For a variety of reasons I have never enjoyed a fully-funded completely professional campaign. Instead, my Whitbread history has revolved around eleventh-hour, marginal entries that were less about making a boat go fast and more about crisis management. Because they were newsworthy in themselves they have, however, helped to shape the Volvo Ocean Race we see today.
“Although there were no victories on my score sheets, I have a collection of memories that would be hard to beat. It is true that nostalgia has no place in today’s Volvo Ocean Race, but those of us who were there can still enjoy turning the clocks back, and that is what the Legends Regatta and Reunion is all about. I am proud to be a part of it.”
About Skip Novak:
Born: USA 1952 (58)
1977-78 King’s Legend
1981-82 Alaska Eagle
In 2001 he co-skippered the 33-metre French catamaran Innovation Explorer with Loïck Peyron to second place in the millennium non-stop, no limits circumnavigation
Novak is the author of One Watch at a Time (account of Drum’s race around the world in 1985-86) and Fazisi – The Joint Venture(1989-90)
Novak is a mountaineer and expedition leader, spending most of his time in the Antarctic waters onboard his two expedition yachts, Pelagic and Pelagic Australis, leading climbing and filming projects
Novak’s home is now South Africa
This article first appeared in issue 37 of Life at the Extreme Magazine.
Skip is interviewed in this week’s Volvo Sailing Podcast. Listen to it here.