Former Southampton City College principal Lindsey Noble reflects on leaving the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

Lindsey Noble

Lindsey Noble

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

FROM searing heat to storms and mountainous seas – she has been through it all.

Nine months ago Lindsey Noble left her job as principal of Southampton City College to take on the ultimate sailing challenge.

But now she is coming home.

The 59-year-old from Winchester will this weekend say goodbye to her teammates and leave the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race – two weeks before it ends.

Lindsey has dropped out of the final two legs so that she can go to a family wedding which was planned after the 12 teams set sail in July last year.

Her partner’s grandson will be getting married on July 12 – the same day the yachts are due to arrive back in London after the final race from Den Helder in the Netherlands.

Far from being disappointed at not completing the challenge, Lindsey is proud of what she has achieved.

“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,” she says.

“I’m also quite tired and I want to see my family and friends so it’s all worked out well.”

But despite missing the last stretch, she joins just a handful of people who have sailed the globe, leaving from and arriving in the UK.

She said: “I wanted to cross the Atlantic and that’s what we did.

“I wanted to do a circumnavigation and I have done that and I’m really pleased.

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

“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.”

Daily Echo: Lindsey Noble (right) celebrates after arriving on the River Foyle in Derry-Londonderry after completing race 14 from New York.

Lindsey Noble celebrates arriving in Northern Ireland after crossing the Atlantic from New York.

The yachts arrived in Derry Londonderry earlier this week after completing their latest leg of the race from New York.

Lindsey had been on board Switzerland, which took eighth place in the 2,800 nautical mile trip across the Atlantic, after 16 days at sea.

During the past nine months, the sailors have spent 199 days at sea, travelling 39,938 nautical miles around the globe.

Daily Echo: Lindsey Noble on board Switzerland

Lindsey Noble on board her yacht Switzerland.

Leaving from London in September they have already raced to Brazil, South Africa, Australia, China and America before arriving in Northern Ireland.

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

Like most on the challenge, Lindsey had little sailing experience when she set off and has had to learn everything during the race.

“I think the biggest challenge was learning the new skills and getting into my head that it’s very precise. It’s either right or wrong and making sure that I did everything properly and safely,” she says.

“I hadn’t done much sailing before. I had done a little bit of dinghy sailing and a little bit of sailing on the Solent, so I was quite a novice. There was a lot to learn.”

The best bits, she said, included winning race eight from Hobart to Brisbane and coming third in race 12 from Panama to Jamaica.

She said: “There were some personal sailing moments when I did some pretty good helming and some good work with our watch on sail changes on difficult conditions. Also, I got a good sense of personal achievement when I made some pretty good meals.”

But the trip was not easy and the teams had to man the boat in all weathers and at all times of the day and night.

“One of the hardest bits was getting up at two in the morning in the Southern Ocean when the rain was beating down and you have to get up and get into your foul weather gear and go on deck when you have been in your nice warm bed,” she recalls.

“And there were one or two times when I have got things wrong and one or two occasions when I fell over and hurt my ribs.”

Her biggest achievement though was sticking it out and completing a circumnavigation.

“I think it’s made me appreciate my home, it’s made me appreciate life in Southampton and Hampshire because a lot of the time was really quite hard and quite challenging so I really appreciate my home, my friends and family. Also it really makes you appreciate your home comforts,” she said.

“I’ve missed having a door because there are no doors and no privacy, a flushing loo and baths and showers. We have had a long time without showering.”

But although she wouldn’t do it again, she said she would recommend it to anyone who thinks they can stick it out.

She said: “Give it a try, but make sure that you don’t suffer from sea sickness. Some people did and they were really quite ill with it and it was really quite miserable for them.

“If they do suffer from sea sickness don’t think about this challenge – do something else.”

Lindsey, who celebrates her 60th birthday in September, will be cheering the rest of the team on from her Hampshire home.

Once she has settled back on dry land, she hopes to return to further education and will be looking for an interim management position.

What is sure is that her next challenge will be completely different from her last one.

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