Team New Zealand's manager Grant Dalton says he is still hurting "big time" after their gut-wrenching defeat in the America's Cup, something he had been working towards for some 10 years.
The 56-year-old has said he would probably not be involved in a future America's Cup challenge after going down 9-8 to Oracle Team USA in San Francisco.
"I'm tired at the moment," he said after arriving at Auckland airport this morning.
"I know the world's moved on [from the defeat] but in our minds we haven't moved on at all yet."
Dalton told media waiting for his flight from the US that instead of taking a well-deserved rest he would be getting straight back to work.
He agreed with Team NZ skipper Dean Barker's comments that there was only a "very small window of opportunity" to secure funding for the next campaign before sailors were poached by foreign crews.
"Without the money to be able to get going again very quickly, we lose the people," Barker told Campbell Live.
"Without the people there is no Team New Zealand, and I think we know that this team can be successful."
Dalton said the syndicate's design team, in particular, were an "absolute target" for international crews.
Several had already been approached, he said.
Dalton, who has been with Team NZ since 2003, indicated he would probably not be involved in a future America's Cup challenge and was yet to come to terms with what happened in San Francisco.
"I look at certain races where we were unlucky but there were a couple when I know we coughed up when we should have closed it out.
"The 'what ifs' will go through my mind for the rest of my life."
A dozen or so diehard supporters welcomed Dalton back to New Zealand after his flight landed just before 6am.
Among them were Adrian Broughton and his family, who drove from Whangarei.
Mr Broughton said he was pulled over by a police car for driving too fast over the Auckland Harbour Bridge, but the officer was understanding of their situation.
"We told him we were coming here and he was like 'guess you're in a rush'."
The officer let them follow him back onto the motorway so they wouldn't be late.
"Still got a ticket, but."
Mr Broughton, who proudly wore his 'Lean With Dean' T-shirt, said he and his family wanted to let Team NZ know how proud they were.
"You can't do second any better than how they've done it. It could have turned out really badly, it could have looked really bad, but it looked really, really good."
Liz Jury and her daughter Anna, 12, also rose early to greet the team's boss.
"They need to know that we care and we're still proud of them and we know that they've given it their all.
"We've just come to see all of them like they're our sons and brothers."
She said she would be sad to see Dalton go.
Meanwhile, a Facebook campaign to raise money for another challenge had by this morning raised more than $36,000.
The page, Long Live Team NZ - Americas Cup 35, was set up by diehard Team NZ fan Ned Dawson through fundraising service Givealittle.