Ever since the heartbreaking loss in the 2013 America's Cup challenge, speculation has been building that a change was imminent at the helm of Team New Zealand.

Dean Barker has held the position since 2000, when he took over from Russell Coutts, but news broke on Wednesday the 42-year-old is about to be supplanted in the role by Tauranga's Peter Burling.

There has been no official announcement but the indicators are that Barker's director of sailing role will continue and, if so, he will be able to mentor Burling through to the America's Cup qualifying series in 2017. That would be the best outcome for all, enabling Barker to share his expertise while Burling has time to settle into the role.

Some may say Burling is too young at 24 to lead Team NZ but since he started sailing in the Welcome Bay estuary aged 6 he has been a class apart at all levels. He sailed in his first Optimist nationals at just 9, and aged 15 was the youngest sailor to win the 420 Class Worlds. In 2012, he became the youngest Kiwi sailor to compete at the Olympics and won a silver medal with Blair Tuke in the 49er class. World titles followed in 2013 and 2014, and last month Burling added the moth world championship, ahead of Barker and many other America's Cup sailors.


Burling told the Bay of Plenty Times in a revealing interview last August that he had always wanted to skipper Team NZ.

"It is kind of like every kid's dream, whether it is to captain the All Blacks if you are a rugby player or helm the America's Cup boat if you're a sailor. I definitely have one or two big ambitions at the moment - to win a gold medal and helm the America's Cup boat and bring it back to New Zealand. That is something you would not want to do unless you thought you were the most likely guy to bring it back."

Burling's day of reckoning may come sooner than he ever hoped. He deserves the opportunity and is the best man available to bring the Auld Mug home.