Skip Novak is the recipient of the Cruising Club of America's 2021 Royal Cruising Club Trophy.
Perhaps best known for his participation in four Whitbread Round the World races since 1977, Skip Novak is a sailor and a mountaineer who commissioned the expedition yachts Pelagic (1987) and Pelagic Australis (2003) and has since spent every season in the high latitudes. Skip is already the recipient of the Club’s Blue Water Medal and the Ocean Cruising Club’s Tilman Medal, named after famed mountaineer and exploratory yachtsman Bill Tilman. With a well-earned reputation for excellence in both high latitude and mountaineering circles, Skip has led many sailing-to-climb expeditions and has facilitated a number of vital science projects in nearly impossible-to-reach destinations over many years.
Skip received the 2021 RCC Trophy for the January 2021 voyage of Pelagic Australis from Cape Town to Gough Island, an outlier of Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic, 1,200 miles southwest of Cape Town. The voyage was part of an effort to eradicate an aggressive mice population that threatened albatross colonies and other resident bird species. Under the auspices of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Pelagic Australis delivered a team of scientists to the island.
Skip successfully completed this enterprise in spite of what seemed like insurmountable challenges, principally weather, location, and sea-state related, but also bureaucratic. The project took place under strict COVID quarantine and lockdown rules in multiple jurisdictions, yet against all odds, he and his team made it happen.
The Club is proud to award Skip the 2021 Royal Cruising Club Trophy for the Gough scientific expedition. His participation was vital to the success of this important project. The Club also recognizes Skip’s many years of invaluable support for the scientific and environmental community. The Club honors the contribution he has made to these many critical endeavors and thereby to the health of our planet.
As a footnote, 2021 was also the swan song of the Pelagic Australis after years of loyal service as the flagship of Pelagic Expeditions, Skip’s Antarctic charter operation. The 23-meter vessel has now begun a new life with Greenpeace. More recently, Skip commissioned a polar expedition vessel Vinson of Antarctica, a Pelagic 77 and newest addition to the Pelagic fleet. In July 2021, he completed Vinson’s first science expedition to Svalbard, supporting a team of German geologists.