31 JULY 2007

Kate Middleton proved herself one of the girls this week as she continued the gruelling training for a charity race across the Channel next month. The fashion buyer, who has been out on the Thames three days a week with the 21-strong crew, had another session on Monday, and did her bit helping carry the vessel to and from the boat house.

The Sisterhood Cross Channel Challenge was launched last November, with the all-female crew training throughout the winter in harsh conditions. Prince William's on-off girlfriend has had more to prove, though, after only joining the team in April. Her Sisterhood crew-mates - who include a former ballerina and professional adventurers - have been full of praise for the athletic brunette who they say has worked hard and is really committed to the task.

It seems she is to be given the important role of steering the boat in the Beauty versus Brawn race against an all-male crew on August 25. "It might look easy, but being on the tiller is hard," explains fellow crew member Emma Sayle. "It's like standing on a wobble board the whole time. And because you have to do all the shouting, you can't relax at all. On the paddles you can switch off a bit more."

She adds that her high-profile team mate is "very gifted and capable", emphasising she's "not on the team as a token celebrity. She's fitted in well as she's such a nice down-to-earth girl."

Kate certainly fits the description of the crew members, who describe themselves on the Sisterhood website as "talented, toned and possessed of killer looks". And according to the biogs listed on the site she's not the only one to have had a taste of the limelight. Rower Bean Sopwith is a top British freeclimber who starred in ITV's Jack Osbourne: Adrenaline Junkie 2. Clearly determined to maintain her privacy - which she's always done out of respect for William and his family - Kate has not added her profile to those of the other members of the Sisterhood.

The blurb about the other girls shows that, like Kate, they're a fun-loving crowd. So the August 3 launch party for the challenge at a private members club should be a night to remember. The website reveals it will involve live bands, DJs and partying til the early hours - something that Mahiki regular Kate should have no problem with.

See HELLO! magazine's exclusive report on Kate's sporting challenge in issue 981, on sale now.

Photo: ©
William's on-off girlfriend helped her crew-mates prepare for another gruelling training session on Monday Photo: © Rex
Photo: ©
The 21-strong Sisterhood crew describe themselves as "ordinary girls achieving extraordinary things"Photo: © Rex