America's Cup winning helmsman Peter Burling's nomination for Sportsman of the Year at this year's Halberg awards would have been more than just an individual award says Yachting New Zealand Chief Executive David Abercrombie.
Yachting New Zealand were set to nominate Burling for the prestigious award but Team New Zealand turned down the approach, saying they did not want Burling to be elevated above the team.
However, the Yachting NZ boss said the award would have been positive not just for Burling but also for the sport of sailing in general.
"I know that Pete would love to see his name go forward and he knows it's not about him, it's about the effect that having the nomination [would have on the sport]," Abercrombie told Smithy on Sport on Newstalk ZB.
"We know what an incredible job the Halbergs do in terms of creating exposure for sports within New Zealand and for individuals and we're really about promoting sailing as a sport for the whole country. And that's something Pete does really really well.
"He's the first to get back and to work down in grassroots level, he's the first to give advice to young sailors coming through. I believe that he's an amazing person to inspire youngsters and to remove him from that position I think is a little unfortunate."
Abercrombie said he was disappointed with Team New Zealand's decision and questioned their decision to only turn down Burling's award and not individual coaching awards.
"This is something that I don't necessarily agree with. And there will be split thoughts on that I'm sure. It's one of those things that people will have a personal view on and I have no doubt that there is a lot more to this than probably meets the eye.
"We've nominated coaches from Team New Zealand for awards as well. Interesting that Team New Zealand are quite happy to support those and yet they're individuals within a team environment."
The Yachting NZ boss also praised Burling and his leadership.
"Yes he couldn't have done it without the others I have no doubt about that but I also have no doubt that there are very very few people that could've done what Pete did in terms of bringing that cup back to New Zealand with everyone else.
"Peter is absolutely convinced that if his nomination goes forwards it's not about him it's actually about the team and it's about the sport. And there's no other way that he would reflect on that."