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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.