Kate sets sail during visit to Sir Ben Ainslie's sailing charity

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The Duchess of Cambridge, nee Kate Middleton, was in high spirits as she carried out a solo engagement in Portsmouth on Friday. Kate visited the headquarters of 1851 Trust, of which she is Royal Patron, to learn about projects inspiring young people to take up sailing.

The 34-year-old looked as stylish as ever in a McQueen skirt and top with black court shoes and her hair down in loose waves. She was visiting the centre to launch the 1851 Trust's two flagship sailing projects in partnership with UKSA and the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation.

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Kate visited the 1851 Trust in Portsmouth

The Duchess met people involved in the project, which aims to encourage young people from diverse backgrounds to pursue the sport. Kate later opened the new Tech Deck Education Centre, which will allow visitors to witness the construction and ongoing operation of the team's America's Cup boats, and learned more about the innovation and technology involved in the sport.

During the latter part of her visit the Duchess met a group of local schoolchildren who are taking part in the #STEMCREW digital workshops, which focus on the science, technology, maths and engineering of the America's Cup challenge.

The Duchess also had the opportunity to take to the seas, and changed into a sailing outfit to join Sir Ben Ainslie on the Americas Cup test boat, where she took control, steering the boat out on the race course for the upcoming Americas Cup world series even in July.

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Kate is Patron of the 1851 Trust

Sir Ben later told HELLO!: "We were all really impressed, she's clearly done a fair amount of sailing before. She had a feel for the boat. It's a really high powered racing machine and to be able to steer one of those at close to 40 mph for even a skilled sailor is a real challenge and she did a great job. We had a wonderful sail.

"She really enjoyed it. She certainly looked like she did. This is fantastic for the team to have her involvement and have her support."

Asked if Kate will bring Prince George and Princess Charlotte one day, he said: "I hope so! She's certainly keen to get the Prince and Princess sailing at some time in the future. Whether that's down here or elsewhere -- I'm sure there are some fantastic locations around the country and it would be great to see them sailing. It's always encouraging to see the next generation to come through."

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Kate changed into sailing gear to go out on the Americas Cup test boat

Kate is Royal Patron of the 1851 Trust, which is supported by Ben Ainslie Racing, the team to bring the America's Cup back to where it all began in 1851. The patronage is a fitting choice for the Duchess, who crewed a yacht on a round-the-world trip during her gap year.

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The Duchess has previously carried out a number of engagements as part of her work with the Trust, and was joined by her husband Prince William for the America's Cup World Series in Portsmouth in July 2015, however the royal couple were left disappointed after the tournament was cancelled due to poor weather.

Her solo engagement comes just days after Kate joined Princes William and Harry to launch their Heads Together campaign at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.