Ben Ainslie asks Kate to join sailing team for 2017 Americas Cup

As The Duchess of Cambridge today visited the Land Rover Bar base in Portsmouth for her patronage the 1851 Trust, Sir Ben Ainslie asked her to join his team next year for the Americas Cup.

Kate was in Portsmouth to launch the trust’s two flagship sailing projects, in partnership with UKSA and the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation, and find out more about projects trying to inspire young people to take up sailing as a sport.

The Duchess of Cambridge arriving for a visit to the Land Rover BAR sailing base in Portsmouth. Picture by Stephen Lock / i-Images

The Duchess of Cambridge arriving for a visit to the Land Rover BAR sailing base in Portsmouth. Picture by Stephen Lock / i-Images

The Trust is an affiliate charity of Land Rover BAR (Ben Ainslie Racing), and hopes to give 3,000 young people from the local area the chance to experience sailing.

The Duchess, who has visited the base twice before, opened the new Tech Deck Education Centre, which will allow visitors to see the construction of the team’s America’s Cup boats.

Kate also met a group of local pupils who were taking part in #STEMCREW digital workshops, which focus on the science, technology, maths and engineering of the America’s Cup challenge. The race will take place 22-24th July this year. 

The new sailing programme is engaging young people in the STEM curriculum in a unique and relevant environment of sailing.

The Duchess was shown some of the technology used by the sailing team, as well as newly developed ideas, including a  bone conductor radio kit, which transmits sound through a pad placed on the forehead. Kate called it ‘fantastic’.

After a quick outfit change into something a little more suitable, Catherine, got out onto the water with Mr Ainslie. They went around the race course in the team’s test boat T1 – a foiling AC45 catamaran – and Kate took control for half of their hour on the water.

Ben, who is the most successful Olympic sailor in history, was so impressed by the Duchess’ skills, he offered her a place on his team as a guest next year.

The Olympian said: “I think the Duchess had a great time, it certainly looked that way. It was perfect sailing conditions, we had about 15 knots of wind, we were going up to 33 or 34 knots which is close to 40mph.

“The Duchess was steering the boat for about half of the session and I think the guys were all really impressed with how well she had sailed. She had done a bit of sailing before. We had a great sail, it was a blast and she thoroughly enjoyed it.”

“There were a few moments from the front of the boat that she was a better helms person than I am so I wasn’t too happy about that so you never know I might give her a place!”

On her gap year before attending university, the then Kate Middleton crewed on a round-the-world yacht tour.

Ainslie said he hopes The Duchess of Cambridge will join him and the British team as a guest at the races in July.

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