Smooth sailing the key for Burnell’s boat

ROCKY WATERS: The Honey Badger will be aiming towards the SB20 Tasmanian State championship next weekend. Picture: Jane Austin
ROCKY WATERS: The Honey Badger will be aiming towards the SB20 Tasmanian State championship next weekend. Picture: Jane Austin

Nicknamed after a little animal that fights ferociously above its weight, the Burnell boys from Sandy Bay Sailing Club appropriately labelled their father’s SB20 one-design sports boat – The Honey Badger. 

The Honey Badger has certainly proven it can do just that, by racing over the summer sailing season for experienced owner Paul Burnell, his sons Oliver, 19 (forward hand), Toby, 18 (mainsheet) and 14-year-old Charlie Goodfellow (floater).

The SB20 Tasmanian championship next weekend is the first of three championship regattas for Hobart’s big SB20 fleet, followed by the nationals in December and the world championship regatta in early January.

The Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania and the Derwent Sailing Squadron are jointly running all three championships.

Going into the final twilight pennant series for the SB20s on the Derwent this Thursday, Honey Badger is third overall in the standings.

The following weekend, March 18-19, the Burnells will take on a fleet of some 35 SB20s, including entries from Queensland and Victoria, in the Tasmanian championships.

The Burnell family has a long history of competitive sailing out of Sandy Bay Sailing Club; father Paul won two world championships in the international cadets as a teenager and has sailed in many yachting classes since then.

His sons followed him, both representing Australia several times at the cadet world championships. Charlie Goodfellow is a cadet sailor and will represent Australia at the 2017 competition in the Netherlands.

Paul Burnell attributes their previous experiences to the successes of today.

“We’ve been sailing together on Honey Badger for the past year or so and we all get on well,” Paul Burnell said.

“I’m the old guy in the team… they tell me what to do and where to go… I just steer the boat.” 

Paul Burnell said the team’s success was largely due to the youth and agility of his crew.

“They can jump around the boat so quickly,” he said.

Chloe fisher on the trapeze with her previous skipper Samantha Bailey steering a 29er skiff of the Derwent. Picture: Angus Calvert

Chloe fisher on the trapeze with her previous skipper Samantha Bailey steering a 29er skiff of the Derwent. Picture: Angus Calvert

“We have had a good season but we need to improve our consistency.

“In such a strong fleet next weekend, if you make one mistake it can quickly cost you six places.

“We do have another problem leading up the worlds; with the boys all continuing to grow we are getting close to the maximum crew weight for the class.”

Between 80 and 100 of the high-performance SB20 sports boats are expected to contest the Australian national championships.