3 AUGUST 2007

It's not exactly been plain sailing for Kate Middleton and her dragon boat team mates this week as they've been warned they may have to call off their August 25 cross-Channel race. The crew - known as the sisterhood - must obtain advance permission to make the 35-kilometre crossing from Dover to Cap Gris, near Calais, but they left it until August 2 to contact coastguards. With processing requests to cross the world's busiest shipping lane usually taking a month, the future of the charity event hangs in the balance.

And time isn't their only obstacle. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has raised fears over the girls' safety. "This is the most dangerous shipping lane in the world. We have 500 vessels making this crossing every day," a spokesman told one British newspaper. "Also, a dragon boat has a flat bottom so it tends to go through the waves rather than under them, meaning their craft could get quickly be swamped with water."

It remains to be seen whether the team - which stresses on its website that "safety is paramount" - will go ahead with the race as planned. An alternative route suggested by coastguards is one between Southampton and the Isle of Wight.

While the exact route for the challenge remains up in the air, the girls' opponents have been getting in some preparation of their own for the race. All-male crew the Brotherhood, who have promised to give 25-year-old Kate's team "a sound beating" in the charity race, took to the Thames in a novel team uniform - brown monk's robes.

Photo: © Alphapress.com
The contestants have been warned the race may not be able to go ahead across the Channel as originally planned due to safety considerations and the late filing of paperworkPhoto: © Rex
Photo: © Alphapress.com
While the final route for the nautical challenge may be up in the air, it was training as usual this week for the boys' team. The Brotherhood donned monk-inspired uniforms for a practice session on the ThamesPhoto: © Getty Images