Olympian and Emirates Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling has capped off a stellar year by being named Bayleys Real Estate Sportsman of the Year award and the Sport Bay of Plenty Supreme Award winner at the Bay of Plenty Sports Awards.
The 2017 Bay of Plenty Sports Awards, held at Rotorua's Energy Events Centre on Friday night, celebrated the abundance of talent produced in the region and were attended by more than 400 finalists and supporters, sponsors, VIPs, and Sport Bay of Plenty staff.
Burling entered the awards' history books as a four-time Supreme Award winner, having previously won the award in 2006, 2013 and 2016 — the most of any athlete since the awards were first held in 1969. He was also the first athlete to receive the award in consecutive years.
While few could argue with Burling receiving the award, he was up against some tough competition in the Sportsman of the Year category, with Black Cap Kane Williamson, canoe slalom's Mike Dawson, sidecar passenger Robbie Shorter, athletics champion Joseph Millar and motor sport's Richie Stanaway all finalists.
However, Sport Bay of Plenty sport manager Megan Cleverley said after the Tauranga Boys' College alumni secured an against-all-odds win at the Louis Vuitton America's Cup, it was a unanimous decision from the judges.
"At 26 years, Peter has achieved more than many at such a top international and national level and he's an incredible example of sportsmanship and commitment. Always humble, he is a true leader and a hard-working athlete, and we are honoured to recognise his sporting achievements," Cleverley said.
Burling was unable to attend the awards in person, as he is sailing around the world in the Volvo Ocean Race, but a recorded message of thanks was played to the crowd and his mother Heather was in attendance to receive the trophies on his behalf.
Olympian Lisa Carrington was named the Holland Beckett Law Sportswoman of the Year, which she has won an incredible five times prior (2011-2013, 2015-2016). She also won the Secondary School Sportswoman of the Year award when attending Whakatane High School in 2007.
Olympic silver medallist Molly Meech was a finalist for Sportswoman of the Year after claiming bronze at this year's 49erFX world championships with Alex Maloney.
Emirates Team New Zealand won the major prize at Friday night's Volvo Yachting Excellence Awards when they were named Sailor of the Year. Burling also picked up a Performance Award for finishing second at this year's Moth world championships which was soon after the America's Cup.