Peter Burling used to stand in front of a Tauranga Boys' College assembly nearly 10 years' ago as the school's sports captain.
Yesterday he addressed the assembly once again - this time as a conquering hero and
youngest helmsman to win the America's Cup.
A sea of teenage boys packed the school hall at Tauranga Boys' College to welcome the hometown hero.
Students performed a moving haka in Burling's honour.
At the special school assembly, Burling was asked what he took away from his time at the college.
"A lot of the values at this school have kept me in pretty good stead going forward," Burling said.
"Everything I have been doing in the last eight years has been learning to be a better sailor.
"A lot of it has been about goal setting and, for me, it is about taking the bigger picture and doing a lot of planning along the way. That has been a massive part of my success in the last eight years."
Burling said he enjoyed competing on a world stage. "To win anything, like a yacht race, there is always a moment where you have to step up and perform.
"For myself, it is making sure I have done everything I can prior to the event ... concentrate on the process and do everything you can."
When questioned about his future career goals, Burling said he was looking forward to more offshore racing.
"I am what they say, 'jumping into the deep end' with the Volvo Ocean Race," he said.
The Volvo Ocean Race, which covers the globe, is held every three years. Burling will race in the 2017 race in Spain this October.
"Some of the longest legs go for 30-40 days and that is a pretty unique thing to race a boat for that long of a period," Burling said.
Principal Robert Mangan said the last time Burling had sat in front of a Tauranga Boys' College assembly was in 2008 as the school's sports captain.
He referred to Burling's 2008 school year as an "absent one" and joked that the Team NZ helmsman had attended 20 weeks out of a 40-week year at school that year.
"But he also achieved outstanding results in terms of his academics while juggling being a New Zealand representative at the Olympics as a young sailor," Mr Mangan said.
He said it had been a pleasure to watch Burling's career unfold.
"It is not only your cold, steely approach at helming the boat, but it is your whole demeanour in the way you present yourself."
Burling and some of his fellow crewmen arrived in Tauranga on Sunday with the Auld Mug for official celebrations of the team's big win over Oracle Team USA in June.
He was welcomed by thousands who crowded Tauranga's waterfront for a glimpse of Burling and the Auld Mug.