What a refreshing response from Team New Zealand to turn down Yachting New Zealand's request to nominate helmsman Peter Burling as sportsman of the year for the next Halberg Awards.

Their justification? They did not want any individual elevated above other members of the syndicate which won the America's Cup in Bermuda during June, returning the Auld Mug to New Zealand for the first time in 14 years.

They want to win the team of the year — and presumably the supreme award — if they are a finalist.

"The America's Cup was a team effort that included 90 different individuals. Some you'll never hear of, but a lot of them are very skilled and were key to the success of that campaign," chief operating officer Kevin Shoebridge told Radio Sport.

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"We were informed by Yachting New Zealand that they wanted to nominate the team, and we figured that if there was any recognition, that's the way we'd like to receive it."

Shoebridge pointed out no one would consider splitting Burling and Blair Tuke when they won team of the year for their victory in the 49er at the Rio Olympics.

Plenty of sports organisations have doubled-dipped in the past (who can blame them?) to earn kudos as much for their individuals as their teams.

Sailing has been among them.

Sir Peter Blake won the sportsman of the year and the supreme award in 1990, skippering Steinlager II to victory in the Whitbread round-the-world race. His crew won team of the year.

When Team New Zealand won the Auld Mug and the overall Halberg Award in 1995, Sir Russell Coutts was beaten by Jonah Lomu in the sportsman category.

In 1969, Chris Bouzaid won the supreme award skippering Rainbow II to victory in the One Ton Cup off Heligoland in the North Sea. His crew did not feature in the gongs.

Since the advent of the Halberg Awards in 1949, 11 of the 66 overall winners — there were no awards in 1961 and 1962 — have gone to individuals within teams.

Individual sportsman and sportswoman awards were added in 1987. Of the 30 men's winners, 12 played in teams; of the 30 women's winners there is one from a team — netballer Irene van Dyk in 2003 when the Silver Ferns last became world champions.
Fourteen of the 45 supreme winners have been teams since the Olympic gold medal-winning rowing eight did it first in 1972.

Team New Zealand — remember they are a corporate syndicate rather than a national team — are eligible for the Halberg Awards because they represent the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. That qualifies them as a New Zealand entity.

TNZ's stance is one which organisers of the annual gala event could consider adopting universally. Perhaps team sports, in yachting parlance, need to nail their colours to the mast.

Halberg Awards

• Since the advent of the awards in 1949, 11 of the 66 overall winners — there were no awards in 1961 and 1962 — have gone to individuals within teams.

• Individual sportsman and sportswoman awards were added in 1987. Of the 30 men's winners, 12 played in teams; of the 30 women's winners, one — netballer Irene van Dyk in 2003 — played in a team.

• Fourteen of the 45 supreme winners have been teams since the Olympic gold medal-winning rowing eight did it first in 1972.