Duchess Of Cambridge In Portsmouth Visit
12 February 2015, 08:06
The Duchess of Cambridge tried out her artistic skills as she added her touch to a giant mural created at the construction site of the new sailing hub being built by Sir Ben Ainslie in Portsmouth for his team's bid to win the America's Cup.
As Royal Patron of the 1851 Trust, a charity dedicated to inspiring a new generation to enter sailing and the marine industry, Kate was shown by the four-time Olympic gold medallist how work is progressing on the new centre at the Camber.
She met some of the 72 children from six local schools who along with street artists James Waterfield and My Dog Sighs have created the mural which depicts the skyline from Portsmouth to Ryde, Isle of Wight, with the Solent waters filled with images from maritime history.
Kate added her own addition to the picture by painting a sailor on an image of Sir Ben's yacht in the mural.
As she was given some art tips by Mr Waterfield, they joked that she was glad not to have got paint on her white Max Mara coat.
One of the schoolchildren who met the Duchess, Lily Giles, 14, of Ryde School, said: "We spoke about sailing and the Isle of Wight and she asked if we were competitive. She was really lovely.'"
The Duchess then met some of the construction crew and was presented with a bouquet by 10-year-old Cece Delaney-Melville, of St Jude's School, before she visited the 170 metre high Spinnaker Tower where she learnt more about the project.
Sir Ben said: "It's fabulous for us to have the Duchess' support for the team and for the Trust and for her to see how far we have developed over the last 12 months."
He added that he hoped that she would return when the centre is up and running after work is expected to be completed in May.
The headquarters of Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR), which was granted £7.5 million of Government funding, will initially employ 90 people and act as a focal point for the design, construction and development of the team's boats for the America's Cup as well as provide a visitor centre showcasing the sport.
It is hoped that Sir Ben will develop a team and boat capable of winning the prestigious trophy, something Britain has so far never achieved.
Portsmouth is also to be the home for two preparation events for the 35th America's Cup yacht race with the world series events taking place in the Solent in July this year and next which are expected to bring up to #60 million to the local economy with 500,000 spectators predicted for the races.
The base will also act as a visitor centre for the 1851 Trust, which works with young people under 25 years old, from diverse backgrounds. Its name derives from the year when the first America's Cup race - known then as the One Hundred Pound Cup - took place around the Isle of Wight, witnessed by Queen Victoria.
While visiting the Spinnaker Tower, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the Duchess, wearing a dress called Somerset by Alice Temperley, had a try on a power grinder trainer from a sailing yacht before she was presented with a Portsmouth Football Club shirt with the name George on it by pupils at Mayfield School in Portsmouth.
Head girl Lucy Burroughs, 16, said: "Kate said William would be very annoyed because he's a massive Villa fan.
"We decided to give her the shirt because Portsmouth Football Club is a big part of Portsmouth and as something for her to remember her visit by."
Sir Ben also presented the Duchess with a BAR team shirt with Prince George on the back which was responded to by "aaahs" from the crowd.
On the tower's viewing level, the Duchess also met students and teachers from Southampton City College, who are building two specialist docking rib boats which will be used to help the America's Cup boats to dock in Portsmouth.
She also saw a display of activities and exhibits destined for display in the 1851 Trust Visitor Centre. These include a demonstration of the advanced technology underpinning the BAR bid, including sailing simulators, power grinders used for training and 3D printing technology.