Skip Novak, one of the most experienced Antarctic expedition leaders in the world, will pilot Lord Nelson through the ice in early 2014 as she becomes the first wheelchair-accessible tall ship to visit Antarctica.
A century after Shackleton announced plans to sail the tall ship Endurance to Antarctica (January 1914), Skip will set off across the Drake Passage aboard Lord Nelson to act as ice pilot and wildlife guide to the ship’s crew, many of whom will have a physical disability.
The 55m steel-hulled Lord Nelson was specially designed to be sailed by disabled people including wheelchair-users, amputees and visually and hearing impaired. She is one of only two tall ships in the world, both operated by UK charity the Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST), that can offer this facility. Lord Nelson’s Antarctic expedition is part of a voyage around the world from October 2012 to September 2014 to take her message of diversity and inclusion to all seven continents. A southern ocean passage from New Zealand in December 2013 will see her round Cape Horn before setting off to explore the Antarctic Peninsula.
Skip Novak is well known for his Whitbread Around the World Race history, culminating in having skippered Fazizi, the first Soviet entry in the Whitbread in 1989. He has spent every season since in high latitudes, combining mountaineering projects with running an expedition yacht charter business to the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and Tierra del Fuego on his two specialist vessels Pelagic Australis and Pelagic. His knowledge of Antarctic ice movement, weather patterns, history and wildlife is extensive, the result of 25 seasons spent in high southern latitudes.
Skip says "When I heard about the JST’s amazing project to sail around the world with disabled people, I wanted to help with the Antarctic part. There will be some truly inspirational people on board the ship and I will enjoy guiding them to one of the most remote and beautiful places on earth. For everyone I go there with, it is an adventure and a dream come true, but for some it is harder than others to get there. I am looking forward to this opportunity to be with people who never thought they would get the chance to sail to Antarctica.
JST founder Christopher Rudd says " I am hoping to be aboard Lord Nelson for this adventure and I am delighted to hear that Skip will be there too because as well as keeping the ship safe - we have no intention of getting trapped in the ice like Shackleton - he will be able to maximise our chances of seeing penguins, humpback whales and other spectacular wildlife."
Lord Nelson’s Antarctic voyage takes place in February / March 2014. Places will available to people of all physical abilities to book from Trafalgar day this year (21 October). Initially, only Friends of the JST will be able to book: Join as a Friend
Visit Skip Novak's website
More about Skip:
Skip Novak was born in 1952. He is best known for his participation in four Whitbread Round the World Yacht Races since 1977. In that year at the age of 25 he navigated the British Cutter Kings Legend to 2nd place.
Skippering the Independent Endeavour in 1979, he won the Parmelia Race from Plymouth to Freemantle Australia.
He skippered Simon Le Bon's Drum in the 1985/86 Whitbread Race coming 3rd. He wrote a book entitled "One Watch at a Time" about this experience and it was published simultaneously in England (David and Charles) and in America (W. W. Norton).
In 1989 he was project manager and skipper of the Fazisi, the first Soviet entry in the Whitbread Race, and he chronicled this watershed event in his book "Fazisi - The Joint Venture" which was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award in Britain.
Wishing to combine his mountaineering skills (New Zealand and the Alps, expeditions to East Africa, Sikkim, Nepal, Patagonia, South Georgia and Antarctica) with sailing he built the expedition yacht Pelagic in Southampton in 1987 and has since spent every season since in Antarctic waters, many of which were leading combined climbing and filming projects based from his two vessels.
He is frequently asked to comment on high latitude adventuring and ocean sailing by radio, TV and print media and is a regular contributor to many sailing magazines worldwide, including several stints as a columnist for the Daily Telegraph in London.
Briefly returning to grand prix ocean racing on large multi-hulls, in 1997 he navigated the French catamaran Explorer to a sailing record in the Transpac Race from Los Angeles to Honolulu. In 1998 he co-skippered Explorer with Bruno Peyron breaking the sailing record from Yokohama to San Francisco. In January to March 2001 he co-skippered the 33 meter French catamaran Innovation Explorer to a second place in the millennium non-stop, no limits circumnavigation The Race.
In 2002/2003 Skip project managed the construction of his new Pelagic Australis, a 23 meter purpose built expedition vessel for high latitude sailing in order to augment the charter operations of the original Pelagic. Launched in September of 2003 she is the flag ship for Pelagic Expeditions.