Dean Barker says he has been unable to give sailing his full attention because Team New Zealand is struggling to finance its 2003 America's Cup defence.
The Team New Zealand skipper refused to detail the exact shortfall in sponsorship, but admitted: "We've still got a lot of money to find."
Barker was in Wellington on Saturday sailing Etchells as part of a Team New Zealand publicity drive for the cup contest, which opens with the Louis Vuitton challenger series next October.
"We're well on the way, but it is always difficult finding the last part of the budget," Barker said. "The guys that have been out fundraising for us have done a fantastic job. They have knocked on a lot of doors. Given that, and the events around the world in the last few months, it has been difficult."
Barker admitted his role as Team New Zealand skipper was more demanding than he had expected because of all the management duties. And he said it was important the funding issue was resolved quickly so he could concentrate on improving boat speed.
He is training on the Waitemata Harbour most days, but has been unable to concentrate on sailing matters as much as he would like.
Asked if he was confident the money would be found, Barker said: "It's not an option ... it has to happen. To leave no stone unturned we have to make sure we do that. "We've really got to have this finished off some time in the New Year, but you can never be sure until the contract is signed."
Barker is happy with Team New Zealand's development, and believes the syndicate is "jelling much better than last time." He said there was a determination to prove New Zealand had the sailors to defend the cup, despite the loss of Russell Coutts and Brad Butterworth. Barker was beaten in two of Saturday's five races, held off Queen's Wharf, by the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club crew of Stephen and Brendon Hogg and Shaun Sheldrake. The races were staged in tricky winds, gusting from 12 to 25 knots.