America's Cup skipper says Team NZ funding decision must be made soon to beat poachers.
Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker says a decision about the team's involvement in the next America's Cup challenge must be made soon, before sailors are poached by international crews.
Barker told Campbell Live last night that there was a "very small window of opportunity" to secure funding for the next campaign, and that "the vultures were already circling" to poach Kiwi crewmen.
"Without the money to be able to get going again very quickly, we lose the people. Without the people there is no Team New Zealand, and I think we know that this team can be successful.
"The team is so much stronger than it has ever been. Team New Zealand in my opinion it needs to continue ... but if we don't act it won't be able to continue."
Barker spoke about the emotional toll the 9-8 defeat to Oracle Team USA has taken on himself, manager Grant Dalton and the rest of the team.
"It's like the body just suddenly goes into shutdown and all the emotion, the nerves, the tension ... dealing with it is just one of the hardest things.
"It's tough. You're trying to gather yourself after everything that's happened and the vultures are already circling."
He said he would cherish another opportunity to work with the team, but decisions about its future had to be made soon.
"We're in a process or a stage now where decisions have to be made to allow the team to continue because we have already had guys targeted by other teams ... if we start losing people now it won't have the ability to carry on."
On the prospect of Sir Russell Coutts returning to the team, Barker said: "I haven't spoken to him so I am not really sure what his plans are but I would say it is very unlikely."
He also described feeling "powerless" against Oracle's boat, but said his team sailed their best in the last race.
"There wasn't a moment in that race where you said 'oh we wish we had done that differently' or 'we could have done this better', we did what we set out to try and achieve and, again, to just watch them sail past us upwind was not an easy thing to deal with."