Royal visit: Royals hit City of Sails

By Sophie Ryan

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge smiling as she greets the crowds in Blenheim yesterday. How will she enjoy her day on the water in Auckland today?
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge smiling as she greets the crowds in Blenheim yesterday. How will she enjoy her day on the water in Auckland today?

It's Auckland's turn.

After watching and waiting as first Wellington, then Marlborough got to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the royal will spend today in the City of Sails.

Photos: Out and about in Auckland

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And their itinerary is suitably appropriate - William and Kate will get to show off their competitive natures as they race each other in America's Cup yachts in the Waitemata Harbour.

Prince William will team up with a crew led by Team New Zealand manager Grant Dalton against the Duchess of Cambridge and a crew led by Team NZ skipper Dean Barker.

Mr Dalton told Newstalk ZB today that competition would be fierce.

"The word came down that we're supposed to let her win but I'm going to have a little world with William about that. I'm not sure that's going to happen.''

Mr Dalton said the royals would be "driving'' their boats and he expected "a bit of banter and competition''. Prince William had been on board with Team NZ before and requested today's race.

Photos: Reception at Government House

There will be 20 people on each yacht, made up of Team NZ members, representatives from the Royal NZ Yacht Squadron's youth programme and members of the royal entourage.

The race starts at 1.30pm and is expected to last for an hour. Multiple waterfront locations will offer viewpoints.

The weather looks likely to hold for the yacht race. Showers are forecast to stay away until mid-afternoon and westerly winds blowing at five knots are favourable for sailing.

Prince William may start as favourite after sailing one of the yachts with Dean Barker in 2010.

Before they take to the water, the Duke and Duchess will take a public drive along Beaumont St and Jellicoe St to the Team NZ headquarters about 12.15pm.

Members of the public are encouraged to take public transport to the area if they want to catch a glimpse of the royals.

Roads will be closed around Wynyard Quarter between 10am and 2pm.


Annie Taccolini, left, and Bonnie Pitchford have brought tea and scones to get them through the morning waiting for the Duke and Duchess. Photo / APNZ

A crowd is already forming outside Team New Zealand headquarters of people hoping to see the royals arrive.

Student Bonnie Pitchford and volunteer Annie Taccolini arrived at 8am with enough scones, tea, and magazines to last the morning.

Miss Pitchford said her love of the royal family came from her mother.

"My mum was a teen when Diana and Charles were married and then I was a teen when William and Kate were married. They're just beautiful and now there's Prince George, who is so hard to resist," she said.

She loves to follow the Duchess' fashion moves and thought her black Jenny Packham dress with the silver fern embellishment on the shoulder was a stylish decision for the Government House dinner last night.

The royal couple will fly to Auckland from Wellington, landing at Whenuapai about 11.20am before meeting Royal New Zealand Air Force personnel and their families.

Tomorrow the Duke and Duchess are travelling to Waikato where they will have a walkabout in Cambridge and formally open the Avantidrome.

- APNZ

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