Kate Middleton
Kate adjusts her helmet as she boards a Land Rover BAR Racing catamaran at Land Rover BAR AFP/Getty

Sporty Kate Middleton proved herself to be a natural as a sailor, as she hit the high seas to kick off a world yacht challenge. The Duchess of Cambridge took over the controls of a Landrover catamaran, adeptly steering the boat onto the race course for the forthcoming Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series event in Portsmouth in July.

And while she did have a little help from Olympic sailor Sir Ben Ainslie, the 34-year-old left the crew members impressed as she took over the helm of the yacht. Looking the part in a waterproof black sailing jacket and trousers, Kate beamed as they set off on the high speed race.

Kate Middleton
Sir Ben Ainslie described the Duchess as a natural on the water AFP/Getty

Speaking after returning to base, Sir Ben, 39, said that while the conditions were perfect for sailing, he was 'amazed' at how well Kate had taken the helm as she sailed the yacht at speeds of up to 40mph..

"I think the Duchess had a great time, it certainly looked that way. It was perfect sailing conditions, we had about 15 knots of wind, we were going up to 33 or 34 knots which is close to 40mph.

"The Duchess was steering the boat for about half of the session and I think the guys were all really impressed with how well she had sailed. She had done a bit of sailing before. We had a great sail, it was a blast and she thoroughly enjoyed it."

Kate Middleton
The Duchess steered the yeacht for half of the race at speeds of up to 40mph AFP/Getty

The 39-year-old, who is the most successful Olympic sailor in history, said the Duchess was such a capable sailor he would even give her a place on his team as the charity prepares to race in the America's Cup in 2017.

"There were a few moments from the front of the boat that she was a better helms person than I am so I wasn't too happy about that so you never know I might give her a place. We were all really impressed, she's clearly done a fair amount of sailing before.

Kate Middleton
Kate Middleton wears a nautical inspired ensemble by Alexander McQueen AFP/Getty

"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," he told Mail Online.

"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."

Kate Middleton
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, patron of the 1851 Trust, is greeted by Sir Ben Ainslie as she arrives at Land Rover BAR on May 20, 2016 AFP/Getty

The Duchess, who is royal patron of the 1851 Trust, set up as part of the Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) charity, launched two initiatives aimed at involving children and young adults from diverse backgrounds in sailing and the technology of the sport.

Visiting the Land Rover BAR team headquarters in Portsmouth, she unveiled a mural that she had contributed to on her previous visit in February 2015, and with the help of young trainee sailors and school children from St Edmund's school, the Duchess was given a tutelage in modern sailing technology.

Kate Middleton
Kate tours the new 'Tech Deck' Education Centre with children from St Edmund's school AFP/Getty

The mother-of-two certainly looked the part, wearing a nautical style Alexander McQueen ensemble as she chatted to children taking part in a digital workshop and was given a demonstration of a generator that powers the boat.

Sir Ben said the Duchesses support had been a source of encouragement for the team as they make their bid for the America's Cup qualifying contest in July. "It was great to have the Duchess supporting the team as patron of the 1851 Trust and supporting our America's Cup bid and it's a real buzz when she is here sailing and joining us.

Kate Middleton
The Duchess unveils a mural as she opens the 'Tech Deck' Education Centre at the heart of the base AFP/Getty

"It was fantastic to take our royal patron onboard T1 during our training session on the Solent today. It was also great to have the Duchess's support with opening the team's new Tech Deck and education centre. A lot of work has gone into developing the facility for young people and we hope to inspire more young people to consider opportunities and careers within Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects and the marine sector in future."

He added that after witness her prowess on the yacht, he would be keen to get her back on the water again. "She supports the team heavily and is very involved with what we do. We'd love to get her racing with us as well if we can, we'll see. For the world series the team is allowed to take a guest. There's a lot going on and we'll see what the schedule allows."

The Duchess, who is known for being competitive when it comes to sports, seemed up for the challenge. She told the children at the team headquarters: "I'd really like to get out on the water more."