Prince William and Catherine's friendly rivalry steps up a notch - this time at Cowes Week

Patrick Sawer
The Cambridges raced against each other on America Cup Yachts in Auckland Harbour in 2014 - Eddie Mulholland

There is always room for a bit of friendly competition in a marriage, and that of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is certainly no different.

They have gone head to head in a dragon boat race in Canada, raced each other during a London Marathon training day and challenged each other to an ice-hockey penalty shootout in Sweden.

Now the couple are to race against each other in a sailing regatta around the Isle of Wight.

The Cambridges will skipper separate boats competing against six other crews as part of the inaugural King’s Cup Regatta next month.

As one palace official put it: “There have been quite a few royal engagements with Prince WIlliam and Catherine involving a sporting element. The friendly competition between them continues and they enjoy it.”

The regatta is being staged to raise money for eight of the couple’s charities, including Action on Addiction, the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and Centrepoint, and to highlight what they say is the positive impact that sport can have on individual and local communities.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry taking part in a London Marathon training session for the Heads Together charity Credit: Paul Grover for the Telegraph

While William and Catherine may be far from professional sailors they stand more than a fair chance of getting their hands on the trophy, as they will each be assisted by a professional skipper backed by a dozen-strong crew.

The winning team will be awarded the King’s Cup, the original trophy first presented by King George V at Cowes’ Royal Yacht Squadron in 1920.

The Cambridges are reviving a royal sailing tradition that dates back to the Prince Regent, a keen yachtsman who, when he became King George IV, presented the first King’s Cup to the Cowes Regatta in 1827.

This was presented every year until George V inaugurated his own King’s Cup in 1920. Interrupted only by the Second World War it was presented every Cowes Week until 1950, when his son George VI replaced it with the Britannia Cup

Members of the public can watch the race, which will take place ahead of Lendy Cowes Week, from the SailGP Race Village along Cowes foreshore.

Footage from the race, taking place on Friday, August 9, will be relayed on screens across the town, with family-friendly activities and exhibits being staged to promote sailing for children and young people. Kensington Palace said: “The Duchess in particular champions how the benefits of sport, nature and the outdoors can impact childhood development, and lead to improved physical and mental wellbeing for all. 

“Their Royal Highnesses hope that The King’s Cup will become an annual event, bringing

greater awareness to the wider benefits of sport, whilst also raising support and

funds for the causes that The Duke and Duchess support.”

The Duchess of Cambridge taking a bandy ice hockey penalty as she and the Duke of Cambridge at Vasaparken in Stockholm Credit: Victoria Jones/PA

During a Royal visit to Canada in 2011 Prince William and Catherine joined the crews of seperate dragon boats to race each other. After being beaten into second place by her husband’s team the Duchess gave him a friendly shove into the waters of Dalvey Lake.

In 2014 the Duke and Duchess took part in a yacht race in Auckland, at the home of New Zealand America’s Cup team, with Catherine’s boat beating her husband’s.

Three years later the couple raced against Prince Harry during a London Marathon training day at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Prince Harry won, with the Duchess bringing up the rear.

Last year they held a bandy ice-hockey penalty shoot out against each other at an ice-rink in Stockholm, with the Duchess, who was pregnant at the time, losing to Prince William 2-1.

Anna Widing, an international bandy player who coached the couple before the shootout, said at the time: "I could see that maybe they like to beat each other."

There’s going to be a lot at stake at Cowes.

Cowes Week's royal connection

1826: The first race of what came to be known as Cowes Week is held under the flag of the Royal Yacht Club, which later became the Royal Yacht Squadron

1827:  King George IV, a keen yachtsman, shows his approval of the event by presenting the King's Cup to mark the occasion

1920: King George V presents his own King’s Cup at Cowes’ Royal Yacht Squadron for the first time

1950: The King's Cup is replaced by the Britannia Cup, which is presented to the Royal Yachting Association by King George VI

1964: At the suggestion of Prince Philip (a regular competitor and Admiral of the Royal Yacht Squadron), the seven separate clubs involved in managing the regatta form the Cowes Combined Clubs to organise the event