Dean Barker only discovered he was on the outer at Team New Zealand after reading about it on social media this week.
The Herald understands several members of the team, including Barker, first learned moves were afoot to replace him at the helm with talented young sailor Peter Burling after reading it on the Veitchy on Sport Facebook page.
It is believed up until that point Barker considered he was still in genuine good faith negotiations with the board as to what the best role would be for him in the organisation for the next America's Cup.
Following the leak the Team NZ board quickly issued a press release refuting the claims. But the "denial" statement only seemed to confirm the reports, with the team responding they were conducting a "review across all operations, the sailing team included, with a view to decreasing costs and increasing competitiveness".
Team NZ have gone into lockdown since the release of the statement, with chief executive Grant Dalton not returning calls yesterday. Attempts to contact Barker yesterday were also unsuccessful.
Speculation over Barker's future with the syndicate has intensified and it remains unclear whether Team NZ plan to keep the long-serving skipper at the organisation in any capacity.
After blitzing a field of seasoned America's Cup sailors in the foiling moth world championships last month, Burling's elevation to helmsman was considered inevitable.
But with four America's Cup campaigns under his belt, Barker's experience is invaluable to the team. The impression given by the team last year was if Barker was to be replaced as helmsman, he would still lead the sailing programme, providing a mentoring role and be heavily involved with the design of the new AC62 catamaran for the 2017 event.
But there are concerns following the syndicate's shaky handling of the transition Barker may be preparing to walk away.
However, last night, a Luna Rossa spokesman rejected speculation Barker would join the Italian syndicate.
"Dean Barker is not going to be part of our team. We have never negotiated with him."
Burling's Olympic coach Hamish Willcox said his young charge is more than capable of stepping up to helm Team NZ but was wary of throwing him in the deep end.
"There's still a lot of experience required for him to make a good fist of it and that's where those older, more senior members of the team need to make sure if he's going to take that position, that he's well equipped," Willcox told Radio Sport.
"He's still got a lot of development, too, so what needs to happen is America's Cup sailors, experienced ones, they really need to take a lead with Pete and give him that experience under their guidance."
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce did not offer a view on stories about Barker.
"I think Dean's been doing a great job overall for Team NZ, there's no doubt about that. But in terms of who's right to take them to the next challenge, I don't think it would be right for ministers to offer a view on that."
He said Team NZ briefed the Government on some matters but not in any detail.