Duke vs. Duchess! Kate Middleton and Prince William had a wet but thrilling fourth day on their three-week tour of Australia and New Zealand when they set out on the water off the coast of Auckland. After meeting with Royal New Zealand Air Force servicemen and women on the morning of Friday, April 11, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge headed to Auckland Harbour for a friendly — but competitive! — sailing race.
The couple — who previously raced dragon boats on their Canada tour three years ago — were pitted against each other on two 80-foot sloops. The Duchess, 32, was in NZL 68, a former training boat for Team New Zealand, while her husband, 31, joined a crew in NZL 41, which previously raced under the Japanese flag in the Louis Vuitton series. See more pictures of Kate Middleton here.
“It seems like it was an opportunity for the Duke to catch his breath,” Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker said of the race, which the royal couple requested themselves. “With all the formal parts of the tour, the functions and the different appearances, it must be nice to do a few of the fun things, like going for a sail. It’s good to see that they are human and like to do all the things that we all like to do.”
“There are no friends on the water, though,” added Grant Dalton, one of the members of the Duke’s team. “No quarter given. I’m sure that Prince William would not want to be beaten by his wife.”
Indeed, an onlooker says “William seemed adamant” about beating his wife, who dressed for the nautical outing in a navy and white ME+EM Breton top and J Brand skinny jeans. Added Eric Haagh, the skipper of the Duke’s boat: “William was very competitive right from the start” of the race. “He didn’t want to lose,” Haagh, 36, added of the royal, who was nonetheless a good sport about it. “When Kate won both of the races, he just said, ‘At least she’ll be happy.'”
She was, in fact, very happy. As the teams disembarked, an observer noted how pleased the Duchess looked, prompting the Duke to quip, “I bet she is! Selfless husband! I wanted a quiet night.” He later joked, too, that he had been “sabotaged.”
In fact, Prince William and his crew did have a few issues with their sails during the race. “William was a bit nervous at the start,” Haagh said. “When we wiped out because of the problem with the sail, we were near to some rocks, and William said, ‘That’ll be a good photo.’ William was a good sailor, but Kate pushed us around into a bad position. She did very well.”
After the race, the Duke and Duchess had a bouncy ride across the water in a Sealegs, an amphibious vehicle. They were later given a miniature version for their 8-month-old son, Prince George. The royal couple were “astounded,” Sealegs chief executive David Glen said. “They cannot wait for it to get to Kensington Palace. The Duchess said she regretted he was not here to give it a try now.”
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