The Duchess — Royal Patron of Ben Ainslie Racing’s official charity the 1851 — joined BAR skipper Sir Ben Ainslie and Chairman of the 1851 Trust Sir Keith Mills, to conduct the official opening of the team’s interactive ‘Tech Deck’ Education Centre.
The all new ‘Tech Deck’ offers a unique behind-the-scenes experience with hands-on interactive exhibits. It enables young people the chance to get close to the boats, team, and the technologies in development that will allow BAR to sail smarter as the British challengers look to achieve their goal of bringing 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 they 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.
During the visit The Duchess participated in a pilot ‘STEMcrew’ digital lesson with young people from St Edmund’s Catholic School, Portsmouth. Launching in October, 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 in depth.
A painting was unveiled to commemorate the opening of the Tech Deck, which included work The Duchess 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 — taking place from 22nd to 24th 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.
Sir Ben Ainslie said: “It was fantastic to take our Royal Patron on-board T1 during a training session on the Solent. 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.”