HAMPSHIRE sailors were leading the way last night as the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race heads for the UK.

Former Southampton City College principal Lindsey Noble, 60, and city engineer Charlie Pickering, 58, both pictured, are among the crew of Switzerland, which was in first place after grappling with high winds, sea currents and thick fog.

Along with 11 other clipper yachts taking part they are today four days into the 2,800-nautical mile race from New York to Londonderry, in Northern Ireland.

Switzerland skipper Vicky Ellis said: “Our route is picked for us as we tread between the cooler foggy water to the north and the warm fast-flowing waters to the south. It has been taking us more southerly recently, unfortunately towards the lighter winds in the centre of the high pressure and away from our next scoring gate.

“We will have to turn north at some stage soon as we are currently going to make landfall in Tenerife at this rate. Still there have been very good bits of today, like doing a speed over the ground of 11.5 knots with 5 knots of wind blowing.”

Isle of Wight-based Olly Cotterell, skipper of OneDLL, had a stressful day as the boat sailed into a foggy windhole and dropped down the leaderboard to 11th position.

He said: “I was genuinely worried we would end up on the wrong side of a ridge of high-pressure system to the rest of the fleet, the consequences of which would have been fatal.

“However we are back in amongst it now in seventh place, but not out of the woods yet. The weather situation is still very complex.”