A FORMER Southampton college principal has spent nine months sailing around the globe – but she has left the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race with just two weeks to go.

Lindsey Noble has sailed 38,918 nautical miles from London to Australia, China and America, spending 199 days at sea.

But after arriving in Northern Ireland this week she has decided to go home early – just 1,020 nautical miles from the London finish line.

The 59-year-old from Winchester said she had to leave the race now because her partner’s grandson is getting married on July 12 – the same day the fleet of 12 yachts is due to arrive in London after the final race from Den Helder in the Netherlands.

The wedding had been planned after Lindsey left her job as principal and CEO of Southampton City College to join team Switzerland on the ultimate sailing challenge.

Her boat came 9th in the latest race across the Atlantic from New York to Northern Ireland – arriving in the UK for the first time since the challenge began in London in September.

The race was won by team Derry- Londonderry-Doire, which was sponsored by the port they arrived in, Derry-Londonderry.

Now the mum-of-one will say goodbye to her crew and get on a plane, arriving home at the beginning of next week.

Lindsey said: “I want to go to the wedding so I had to either get off in Derry or at Den Helder. I thought getting off at Derry was better and it’s UK to UK and it feels like home.

“I don’t think it’s coming off the race early. I have done the main bit – it’s just two small races left.

“I wanted to cross the Atlantic and that’s what we did. I also wanted to do a circumnavigation and I have done that so I’m really pleased.

“I’m feeling very proud but really pretty exhausted. I have got some wonderful memories and there have been some brilliant moments. There shall be lots to talk about when I get home.

“I shall be sad to leave the crew but I would have been leaving the crew anyway in two weeks’ time when we go our separate ways.”

She will be celebrating sailing the globe at the same time as her 60th birthday in September.

The fleet will set off for Den Helder in the Netherlands on June 29, arriving on July 2.

After an eight-day rest the teams will set sail on their final voyage on July 10, arriving at St Katherine Docks in London on July 12, where a massive welcome home festival is planned.

Organised by Gosport-based Clipper Ventures, the race is skippered by professionals, but crewed by amateurs. It was founded by legendary Hampshirebased sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and is the longest race of its kind in the world.