The Duchess of Cambridge returned to Portsmouth this morning to visit the Land Rover BAR Team HQ, the visitor centre showcasing Ben Ainslie's efforts to win back the America's Cup next year.
Kate is royal patron of the 1851 Trust, which is Ainslie's charitable arm of his sailing efforts. The 1851 Trust was created to draw in young people to greater engagement with the sport and, hopefully, inspire them to greater academic success as they see the core subjects of study, such as math, put to practice to create these sophisticated and precise racing boats.
For those not familiar with the origins of the America's Cup, or the inspiration behind the 1851 name, the charity's website offers a very nice explanation:
1851 was the year of the Great Exhibition, a celebration of modern industrial science, technology and design and championed by Prince Albert. It was an opportunity for countries to showcase the best of their achievements. A syndicate of businessmen from the United States brought a schooner called ‘America’ to demonstrate their shipbuilding skills. ‘America’ outclassed the British racing fleet of 1851, winning the first America’s Cup and beginning the challenge that Ben Ainslie Racing have now embraced – to bring the Cup home.
Kate has visited BAR a number of times, and today she had the opportunity to unveil the mural which she actually participated in painting on her last visit while pregnant with Charlotte.
The Duchess toured the Tech Deck with Ainslie, seeing the various displays that explain the research and technique that goes into creating his aquatic racing machines. On a side note, doesn't Rebecca look cute there in the background?
This ensemble is hugely popular among fans and obviously one of Kate's preferred outfits as well. When she first debuted it in 2011, it was one of those fashion moves that was surprising. I think it got mixed reviews at the time, because it was quite out of Kate's usual style and some felt that the blouse and the skirt together looked a little too much like a costume. Remember Diana's white and gold military suit?
As the Duchess continued to flex her fashion muscles, though, the novelty of the design wore off and we viewed it simply as the lovely, flattering and interesting choice that it is. Her second wear was even more successful than the first. Although little changed in her presentation, the excitement of seeing it again, and the sunshine and green surroundings set off the entire ensemble beautifully. I particularly love the skirt and the dual slits.
Nautical blue and white have been Kate's colors of choice when visiting BAR and The 1851 Trust, and given the military associations with sailing, these McQueen separates were an appropriate choice. Kate looked beautiful, nevertheless, I was disappointed. I poked my nose out of my blankets this morning when one of you messaged me on Twitter that Kate had recycled. I said a silent prayer that she had put her hair up and went back to sleep for another half hour. I finally got up to a mild letdown. Ladies, this ensemble needs a twist.
It is hard to switch up an outfit like this, I admit. For some years now I have hoped she would wear these pieces with her hair in a chignon. A ponytail today would have been a good compromise between the formality of a chignon and the loose locks we have seen with this ensemble several times. Today's wind would have made an updo even more on point.
The Duchess did change this morning into sportswear to meet the BAR America's Cup crew and experience a training session on the Solent, a T1 foiling catamaran that BAR created using state-of-the-art technology.
A catamaran is a two-hulled boat, as you can see in the pictures, and the foils are like skis that lift the boat up when it hits high speeds. It isn't too much of an exaggeration to say that Kate was almost flying, since these boats are barely skimming the water when they really get racing.
|Ben Ainslie Racing|
I am sure it was an exciting time on the water. Last year the crew capsized their 45-foot T2, although it was the first and to-date last such incident.
Ainslie is one of Britain's most talented racers and I am getting more and more keyed up for the 2017 America's Cup, which promises to be an incredible competition.
The location for the 2017 event was announced just a few months ago and the destination is: Bermuda! And I kind of want to go. Maybe we should have a From Berkshire to Buckingham vacay in June of next year!
As is always the case with her visits to BAR for the 1851 Trust, it was a fun day, but the fashion was a little bland. I think that the Jaeger dress Kate wore to Greenwich maintains its position of dominance over every other ensemble. This is my call to Kate to really wow us the next time. Maybe Ainslie will throw a star-studded gala or something.
We should see Kate Monday!
We should see Kate Monday!