Prince William and Kate Middleton took to the New Zealand waters to sail around Auckland Harbour on Friday afternoon, as part of their royal tour of the country.
Their second engagement of the day saw the couple board an Emirates Team New Zealand Americas Cup yacht each — the Duke on one and the Duchess on the other. As William and Kate prepared to start their race, the heavens opened and locals joked that the royals had brought the poor British weather with them.
Nevertheless, it was time for them to embrace their competitive sides, and with both the Duke and Duchess being keen sailors, they looked eager to participate in the “informal” matches between the two yachts.
According to New Zealand’s Radio Live, William had specifically asked to have a light-hearted race arranged for him and his wife, reminiscent of the couple competing against each other in a Dragon Boat race during 2011’s North America tour.
Dressed for the excursion, Kate, 32, got her racing gear on and took extra precaution with a waterproof jacket. As soon as the race started though, she whipped it off and flaunted her athletic figure in her Breton striped top.
The Duchess had sensibly swapped her wedge heels, which she wore to her first engagement at the Whenuapai air force base, for more comfortable shoes. She scooped her glossy locks back into a ponytail and fastened them under a black cap.
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As an experienced sailor who has practised regularly with her family in the Solent and has worked previously as a deckhand, Kate was in her element. She worked the yacht with Dean Barker, Team New Zealand skipper, and looked completely in control as she steered the boat, much to spectators’ delight.
Kate had been tipped to win the race, and looked delighted to be finally experiencing one of New Zealand’s pastimes firsthand.
William, meanwhile, looked just as content joining forces with Team New Zealand manager Grant Dalton. The Duke had previously said that there would be “healthy competition” between him and his wife.
The second-in-line to the throne seemed to also enjoy taking in the sights, of what he called a “beautiful country” in his state reception speech at Wellington’s Government House. William has made no secret of his love and admiration for New Zealand, and it seems the refreshing trip out on the water will have had the same effect on his wife.
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Earlier that morning, William and Kate had paid a touching visit to the Royal New Zealand Air Force base nearby, where they had the pleasure of meeting military personnel and their families, and thanked them for their services.
The couple’s third and final engagement of the day will be another boat trip across Auckland harbour, this time riding the “Sealegs” Amphibious Marine craft. As the name suggests, it is a boat that can be driven from dry land into the water, before being driven back out again.