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Hampshire woman Lindsey Noble among those heading out to sea from London docks
THE world's longest race is on today as competing yachts line up for the biggest maritime pageant since the Diamond Jubilee.
Thousands are flocking to see the 70ft yachts taking part in the Clipper 13-14 Round the World Race set sail on their year-long, 40,000 mile circumnavigation around the word.
This year's send off festival is being held in St Katherine's Docks in London rather than Southampton, once the home of the ocean racing extravaganza.
The city failed to bid to host the race again because city council bosses felt it was unaffordable.
Today the spotlight shines brightly on the capital with a spectators lining up in the dock and by the Thames to witness the send off by Tower Bridge.
The yachts are set to form up by the iconic landmark before sailing with a flotilla of boats down the river.
A carnival atmosphere has taken over the central marina in scenes reminiscent of the last send off in Southampton's Ocean Village in 2011.
Crowds cheered on the teams as they took to the stage before they boarded their clipper yachts for the first part of the journey to Rio De Janeiro in Brazil.
Most of the crew are novices or with little experience on the high seas, from farmers to film directors to hair dressers to high flying business men.
One of them is former Southampton City College Principal Lindsey Noble, who quit her job and leaves her family today.
Holding back tears, the 59-year-old from Winchester told the Daily Echo: "I'm feeling quite excited but more anxious about doing my bit and being part of the team."
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