Aucklanders turned out in their thousands today to catch a
glimpse of glamour royal couple the Duke and Duchess of
And it is Catherine who can claim bragging rights over her
husband Prince William, as she left him in her wake during a
spectacle race around Waitemata Harbour aboard two Team New
As the royal couple arrived at the Viaduct Basin, a few heavy
showers of rain poured down on the thousands of people lining
Some were resplendent in Union Jack coloured clothing and
others wore Williams and Catherine face masks.
Aimee Trist had been waiting at the Viaduct for a chance to
meet the royal couple since 6.30am.
The crowd behind her surged forward as they approached and Ms
Trist was pushed against the barrier
"I fell forward and she (the Duchess) said 'you're getting
They shook hands and the Duchess said she had a top similar
to the one Ms Trist was wearing.
She said it had been worth the wait.
"Now we're going home to watch the royal wedding,'' she
Faye Hayman and Heather Saint said the Duchess of Cambridge
spent three or four minutes talking with them.
"She spotted us and made a beeline towards us,'' said Mrs
"She hung around and had a full conversation with us. She
asked if we were from Auckland, told me my hand was warm,
said she had a good flight up here and Heather wished her a
The friends are both keen sailors and amateur photographers
and picked their spot in the crowd at 7am.
The women said their royal experience was amazing.
"She was very open and a very warm person. She was genuine,
and looks at you when she's talking to you,'' said Mrs Saint.
Lily Ferguson wore an English rugby jersey hoping she would
stand out in the crowd - and it worked.
"William said 'nice rugby jersey' and asked me where I was
from. It was amazing.''
The student from Yorkshire had waited four hours to meet the
But she wasn't the first in line at the waterside; Leeza Chan
got up at 3am to mark her spot by the barrier at Karanga
Plaza about 4.30am.
Her pre-dawn effort paid off when the Duke and Duchess made a
beeline for their most committed fan.
Afterwards Ms Chan, shed tears of joy.
After their walkabout, the royal couple boarded the
superyacht Imagine where they changed before the yacht
Catherine raced with Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker and
Prince William with team manager Grant Dalton. Both royals
spent lengthy periods at the helm, but it was Catherine who
can take home the bragging rights, winning the mini series
She was gracious in victory: "I am sorry", she said, as she
patted her husband's shoulder, back on dry land.
Rawiri Geddes, 21, a member of the Royal New Zealand Yacht
Squadron youth training programme, was on Catherine's boat
and said it was an honour to be so close to her.
Mr Geddes was a grinder for much of the racing but still
managed to get a couple of photos with the Duchess and said
she was determined to win.
"She was good, she was really good - she took charge and won
Mr Geddes, who wore red socks, was on the grinding pedestal
during much of the racing but still managed to get a couple
of photos with the Duchess.
The Bachelor of Science student said there were celebrations
on the boat as they made their way back in to the Viaduct,
and Kate came over to the group to talk about their youth
Barker said Kate was very knowledgeable about Team NZ, and
had followed the racing in San Francisco. Kate had displayed
her competitive side, he added.
"She definitely didn't want to come off the water being
behind, I don't think.''
Asked what went wrong, Dalton hinted at conspiracy: "I was
just doing what I was told, really''.
He said William was not too distraught at losing, either: "He
was pretty happy with that because he was just doing what he
was told as well''.
The future king had displayed his skills out on the water,
"He was great, he had a really good feel for it and got off
the line nicely in the second race, he was going really
well...he was into it.''
However, Team NZ will not be tempted to sign the Duke of
Cambridge on as a member.
"I'm not sure we can afford him, he might be a bit expensive.
The insurance would definitely be a killer.''
After the excitement of racing, the royal couple headed up to
West Park marina on the amphibious Sealegs craft.
The Duchess took the wheel of the Sealegs for at least part
of the trip to the marina where people lined the side of the
ramp to shore and called out to the couple.
The couple disembarked and spoke to people at the marina.
Prince William shook hands with Boston Newton who is
celebrating his seventh birthday .
He said meeting the Prince was the best birthday gift - even
better than the BMX he got.
Earlier in the day, the royal couple touched down at
Whenuapai, where they met Royal New Zealand Airforce
The Duchess wore navy blue jeans and a blue and white striped
top under a fitted, military-style navy blazer as she got off
the plane with her husband grinning at the small crowd
waiting for them.
Kate walked gracefully in a pair of towering navy blue cork
The royals were greeted by Auckland Mayor Len Brown and his
wife Shan Inglis, and Air Commodore Kevin McEvoy.
They chatted happily before heading into the hangar to meet
Royal New Zealand Air Force families.
Among them were members of the Orion crew recently returned
from the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet off the
west coast of Australia.
Flight Lieutenant Andrew Fisher, who had three weeks on the
Orion, said the Duchess took much interest in his recent
"She asked if we had been away recently. She was interested
in how we found it. It was intense flying, we flew around 110
hours in three weeks,'' he said.
Maia Hunt, the 6-year-old daughter of Squadron Leader Steve
Hunt, presented the Duke with the book The Wheels on the Bus
_ a present for his son George.
"He thought it was for him. He said he would do the actions
and make all the noises,'' Maia said.
Outside, a crowd of about 100 people lined the road leading
up to the airbase gate.
They waved and cheered as the motorcade rolled by, with
glimpses of the Duchess prompting squeals and cries of "Oh my
God she's beautiful''.
A column of primary-aged Whenuapai School students snaked
their way across the entrance, waving handmade New Zealand
flags as the royals passed.
Tomorrow the couple will visit Waikato.
- By APNZ, New Zealand Herald staff and agencies