America's Cup: Tauranga celebrates hometown sailing hero Peter Burling

While we all want to claim Peter Burling as our own after the America's Cup victory, Tauranga has the edge on the rest of us.

His hometown yacht club was packed to the gunnels on Tuesday morning, with 300 friends and fans cheering his every move.

And one of Burling's mentors also revealed the outcome could have been so different if 'Pistol Pete' had taken up an offer from Oracle two years ago.

But 20 years ago was when it all began, when a six-year-old helmsman Burling started sailing Optimists in Welcome Bay.

"We bought a boat so the kids could enjoy sailing and then the guy who sold us that particular boat sent us along to the yacht club, and Peter just got ridiculously good ridiculously quickly," his mum Heather told Newshub.

"So yeah, life changed at that point."

Even as a kid, everyone knew Burling was special.

Sure enough, aged just 15, he became a world champion sailor, and one of his mentors, Jim Gilpin, controversially moved to tie him to Tauranga forever.

"One of the guys told me that I put a division right through the club by moving that a 15-year-old become a life member," he told Newshub.

"But it's worked and we've got Peter Burling, and no matter what he does, Lord knows what he does in the future, but he's still going to be Tauranga's Peter Burling."

Mr Gilpin - a champion sailor in his own right - hosted his own celebration party at a retirement village down the road. He always knew Burling could win an America's Cup.

"I do know for a fact that Oracle and those guys were looking at him and he didn't take their offers because he wanted to get an Olympic gold, and it was to his advantage to stay with Team New Zealand so he could use their facilities," he said.

There's a saying in Tauranga about the astonishing prowess of their boaties: "There must be something in the water."

Now Burling has turned it into liquid gold.