Skip Novak Honored for Cruising the Antarctic

The Cruising Club of America has selected skipper Skip Novak to receive the 2014 Blue Water Medal.

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 74-foot aluminum vessel is cutter-rigged, and like her smaller sister Pelagic, has a unique swinging ballast keel and rudder. These features reduce draft and allow the vessels to be beached without damage. Pelagic Australis was 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. As such, there are no “appliances” on board to fix. He says “the Pelagic way, means keeping it simple on a voyage of participation.” Skip does allow one 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.

The Cruising Club of America is dedicated to offshore cruising, voyaging and the “adventurous use of the sea” through efforts to improve seamanship, the design of seaworthy yachts, safe yachting procedures and environmental awareness. Founded in 1922, the Club has 11 stations throughout the U.S., Canada and Bermuda, with approximately 1200 members who are qualified by their experience in offshore passage making. In even-numbered years, the CCA organizes the Newport to Bermuda Race in conjunction with the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. Through the Club’s Bonnell Cove Foundation, grants are made to 501 C3 organizations for safety-at-sea and environment of the sea projects. Learn more at

Sailor Skip Novak

Sailor Skip Novak

Courtesy of the Cruising Club of America