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Kate Middleton makes appearance to wish good luck to Sir Ben Ainslie's sailing team

The Duchess of Cambridge is a keen sailor herself

Emily Nash

The Duchess of Cambridge has sent a good luck message to Sir Ben Ainslie's America's Cup team as they prepare for their preliminary races in the competition this week.

Keen sailor Kate, who is patron of the British team's official charity, the 1851 Trust, said: "We will be all be cheering you on."

Wearing one of the crew's jackets over a nautical striped top, she said: "Sir Ben Ainslie and his team are about to embark on the challenge of a lifetime – an attempt to win sport's oldest international trophy, the America's Cup.

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The Duchess of Cambridge sent a message of good luck to the team

"All the teams taking part have spent years preparing for the match and sailing fans around the world are waiting exciting showdown in March."

Four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Ben is skippering Ineos Team UK on the Britannia race boat at the 36th America’s Cup in New Zealand. Preliminary racing begins with the America's Cup World Series & Christmas Cup from December 17-20, ahead of the official start in January.

In the clip, issued for 9am in Auckland, the Duchess recalled racing against her husband Prince William on America’s Cup boats in the same place when they visited New Zealand in 2014.

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The video was posted to INEOS Instagram

Describing the experience as "hugely exciting", she added: "But next year, in far more capable hands and thanks to the incredible engineering and technology behind their new racing boat Britannia, the British team will race across the Hauraki Gulf in Auckland at speeds of up to 60mph."

She added: "I'm delighted that the 1851 Trust, which I am proud to support, is the official charity of Sir Ben's team. The Trust's involvement with the America's Cup will, I hope, continue to encourage young people from all walks of life to get out on the water and inspire a new generation of sailing enthusiasts."

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Kate is a keen sailor herself

Kate first met Sir Ben at the London 2012 Olympics, where he won his fourth gold medal and they teamed up in 2014 for the launch of the UK's America's Cup bid.

The Duchess toured the Ben Ainslie Racing headquarters in Portsmouth as part of her work with the 1851 Trust in 2015 and joined him again the following year for a training session on the water.

Responding to her message, he said: "We really hope that the British public will get behind us in this challenge of a lifetime. Sailing is a major sport out here in New Zealand and the anticipation is building for it to be a huge spectacle. We are very grateful to The Duchess of Cambridge for her message of support and for those unable to join us here in Auckland we plan to put on a good show for you."

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