Volvo Ocean Race Legends Regatta and Reunion is to be held in Alicante, Spain, 1st to 5th November 2011.
The American skipper of Drum, raced by British rock star, Simon Le Bon (Whitbread 1985-86), is now onboard as an Ambassador. Novak has completed The Whitbread (forerunner of the Volvo Ocean Race) race four times, 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 hijinks, some of which still cannot be printed nor repeated in mixed company! Fare thee well shipmates, you were a fine bunch. Now who is still around from the early days?
'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 and I am proud to be a part of it.'
The Volvo Ocean Race Legends will celebrate the treasured history of the world’s premier ocean race. It includes racing, social events and plenty of time for renewing old rivalries and dusting off precious memories of events gone by which still seem like yesterday.
It promises to be an occasion not to be missed, with many former sailors travelling to Alicante from all corners of the globe. Volvo Ocean Race website