THE battle was on today for Hampshire sailors competing in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

With north east trade winds generously filling their sails, the 12-strong fleet of clippers are due in Jamaica tonight or early tomorrow morning.

Henri Lloyd was again leading the fleet, with Old Pulteney, whose crew includes 39-year-old Charles Slater and 41-year-old Kate Hepworth from Southampton, in second.

OneDLL, which includes Southampton engineer Dave Richards and skippered by Isle of Wight-based Ollie Cotterell, is in third place.

However, team Jamaica Get All Right was facing arriving in their home port in last position.

But skipper Pete Stirling, from Tichfield, said: “On Jamaica Get All Right we never ever give up.

“The crew are still highly motivated to get a good result on this race into our home port.”

Once in Jamaica, the team are to welcome a new crew member – British Olympic silver medallist and former Modern Pentathlon world number one, Heather Fell.

Qingdao and Switzerland, whose crew includes former Southampton City College principal Lindsey Noble, are currently tenth and 11th.

Meanwhile, Great Britain, whose crew includes the youngest sailor, 19-year-old Jacob Carter, as well as Steve Mabey, 47, from Southampton, were in fifth place, although still in second place on the score board after an impressive record of wins.

The teams now have a week to enjoy the tropical delights of Jamaica, before setting off next Saturday for New York.

They will then cast off from the Big Apple, heralding the start of the “homecoming leg”, bound for Derry-Londonderry.

The race will then head to Den Helder in the Netherlands before arriving back in the UK, for a homecoming party in St Katherine’s Docks on July 12.

Organised by Gosport-based Clipper Ventures, the yachts are crewed by novices but skippered by professionals.