William and Kate go sailing on the sand in land yachts

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge raced each other in land yachts when they returned to St Andrews 20 years after meeting in the university town.

William and Kate renewed their sporting rivalry, performing figures of eight in the wind-powered buggies on the West Sands beach at the coastal Scottish town.

In crash helmets and casual clothes, they joined six teenage carers trying out the sport on a day course organised as respite from their normal duties looking after family members.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge tour of Scotland
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge racing on the sand (Andrew Mulligan/PA)

The session, arranged by Fife Young Carers, was hosted by a local company, Blown Away.

A young carer is defined as a child or young person whose life has been affected by looking after a family member with a physical disability, illness addiction or mental health issues.

In 2019, 6,785 young people in Fife identified themselves as young carers, equating to approximately one in eight young people in the region.

The charity, which has operated since 1995, supports 597 young people, with the figure rising monthly.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge tour of Scotland
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (centre) with a group of young carers who were taken land yachting on West Sands beach (Andrew Mulligan/PA)

The Cambridges quickly got the hang of the sail-powered buggies.

But it was William who proved the winner when they raced head-to-head across the rain and wind-lashed beach.

Always so competitive, he had been determined to get his technique right to ensure maximum speed.

“I want to go faster. I need to make sure I’ve got the right angle,” he told twins Jamie and Guy McKenzie, who run the land yachting business.

“Wahoo,” he screamed as he pulled away from Kate, who at one point made up ground. “I’m catching you!” she shouted, laughing.

At one point they appeared to be heading for a head-on collision but William steered away at the last minute.

The royal couple had spent a romantic night in St Andrews, where they met as first-year students, ahead of today’s engagements. But they appeared to have forgotten how brisk the late spring nights can be on the east coast of Scotland.

“I opened the window last night and it was so cold,” Kate told the carers as they chatted on the sands before trying out the land yachting.

She and William talked to the six teenagers, aged between 13 and 18, about their lives looking after sick parents or siblings and how they balance their responsibilities with school work and trying to do ordinary things that teenagers do.

Kate, who was wearing a jumper by Highlands firm Campbell’s of Beauly, asked if their friends at school realised the challenges they face.

“Is it hard for them to relate to what you are doing?” she asked, “Do you think people in general are understanding?”

As they talked about their lives, she asked: “Do you find it hard to find time for yourselves and do things?”

One of the boys told her he had been on a yacht last year and had taken it in turns with others to cook for the crew. Kate, who worked on yachts when she was a student, asked: “Did you get seasick?

“I did but your body gets used to it,” he replied.

The Duchess of Cambridge learning to sail a land yacht.
The Duchess of Cambridge is shown how to sail the land yacht (Andrew Milligan/PA)

William praised them for the care they gave their loved ones. “You guys do really well,” he told them, “You should be very proud of yourselves, guys.”

Kirstie Howell, service manager for Fife Young Carers, said it was important the young people the organisation helps got the chance to get away from their responsibilities and enjoy normal pleasures.

“It’s a chance for these young people to get away from their care roles and just allowing them to be young people again,” she said.