Friday 20th May 2016, Portsmouth: Today, Sir Ben Ainslie's British America's Cup challenger Land Rover BAR hosted a visit at their Portsmouth home from Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cambridge - the Royal Patron of their official charity, the 1851 Trust. The Duchess joined Land Rover BAR Team Principal and Skipper Sir Ben Ainslie and Sir Keith Mills, Chairman of the 1851 Trust, to conduct the official opening of the team's interactive 'Tech Deck' Education Centre.
The 'Tech Deck' offers a unique behind-the-scenes experience with hands-on interactive exhibits, enabling young people to get close to the boats, team, and technologies in a development that will allow the team to fly faster and sail smarter; helping the British challenger achieve their goal to bring the America's Cup home for the first time in its 165-year history.
The 'Tech Deck' is unusual amongst educational resource centres as it is based at the home of a working professional sports team. Developed for Key Stage 3 of the National Curriculum, the aim is to foster and ignite young people's interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) and aims to inspire students to continue on to careers in these essential fields. Throughout the centre the team have shared and demonstrated the many challenges the team face in designing, building and racing in the America's Cup, as well as the roles science and technology play in designing boats that fly, and areas such as sailing tactics.
During the visit The Duchess participated in a pilot 'STEMCrew' digital lesson with young people from local St Edmund's Catholic School, Portsmouth. STEMcrew is an online educational resource developed by the 1851 Trust and will be provided for free to teachers to explore science and engineering principles with their students. A painting was unveiled to commemorate the opening of the Tech Deck, which included work The Duchess had painted during a visit to an 1851 Trust art project back in February 2015.
The Duchess also took 'flight' with the team on-board their test boat 'T1' - a foiling AC45 catamaran - taking control and steering the boat out on the race course for the forthcoming Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Portsmouth (LVACWS) event from 22-24 July. During the training session on the Solent, home to the original America's Cup race course in 1851, the team reached speeds of 33 knots (38 mph) in perfect, but demanding conditions.
Ben Ainslie said: "It was fantastic to take our Royal Patron on-board T1 during our training session on the Solent today. We gave her the helm and we were flying along at 33 knots, out on the ACWS Portsmouth race course, you can tell she has done a lot of sailing, she was a natural on-board.
"It is also great to have The Duchess' support with opening the team's new 'Tech Deck' and Education Centre. A lot of work has gone into developing this facility for young people and we hope to inspire more young people to consider opportunities and careers within STEM subjects and the marine sector in the future."
Mark Cameron, Jaguar Land Rover Global Brand Experience Director said "Land Rover is proud to be title partner and exclusive innovation partner to Land Rover BAR, a partnership based on shared vision and values. As well as helping the team to design the most technologically advanced boat in America's Cup history we remain dedicated to inspiring the youth of today and tomorrow into engineering, science and technology careers. The opening of the Land Rover BAR Tech Deck will mean that, along with Jaguar Land Rover's extensive STEM programmes, both organisations will inspire and educate around 300,000 young people a year.
"Land Rover is delighted to be bringing two engaging and interactive exhibits to the new Tech Deck at Land Rover BAR. The first, 'Stable Flight', is an immersive, virtual reality experience that involves steering the race boat whilst keeping it stable on its foils. The second, 'Control vs. Speed', consists of three touch screen display monitors that enable users to design their own boat to race. Using an interactive sliding scale, users can alter the wing, daggerboards and rudders to understand how different elements effect the boat's performance."
A booking system is now live for public open days: https://uk.bookingbug.com/home/49898-Land-Rover-BAR
To register interest for school visits to the Tech Deck: https://r1.surveysandforms.com/f32lqv82-ca1u7i21
Whilst in Portsmouth, Her Royal Highness also launched the 1851 Trust's two flagship sailing projects for 2016 in partnership with UKSA and the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation. The projects are aimed at getting more than 3,000 young people from a wide demographic into the sport over the next two years. A unique aspect of the programme is working with schools to deliver STEMcrew as part of the sailing projects, engaging young people in the STEM curriculum in a unique and relevant environment, all inspired by Ben Ainslie's quest to Bring the Cup Home.
HRH met some of the team and the children involved in the projects, who showed off the boats that are used in the sailing activity. For further information on the 1851 Trust sailing projects go to www.1851trust.org.uk