UNDER the roaring engines and coloured smoke of the Red Arrows, the yachts of the Clipper Round the World Race set off on the penultimate leg of their journey.

The teams left the Northern Irish port of Derry Londonderry yesterday as the competitors, ten of whom hail from Hampshire, edge nearer to the end of their epic circumnavigation of the world.

The 12-strong fleet performed a spectacular parade of sail on the River Foyle in front of the Peace Bridge, before lining up off the Northern Irish coast to see a 25-minute air display by the Red Arrows.

They then started the race to Den Helder in the Netherlands.

This will see the crews bid for the OneDLL Cup, taking on an 800-mile route around Scotland and then down into the North Sea to arrive in Holland between July 2 and 4, subject to weather conditions.

The race left without former Southampton City College principal Lindsey Noble, who nine months ago left her job to take on the ultimate sailing challenge of sailing round the world.

But the 59-year-old from Winchester has said goodbye to her teammates and left the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race – two weeks before it ends.

She said that was due to attend a family wedding, as reported by the Daily Echo.

When they reach the Netherlands, the crews will have an eight-day break before setting sail for London, where the race set off fromten months ago.

Crewed by amateurs but skippered by professional skippers, the race, which is organised by Hampshire-based Clipper Ventures, was founded by racing legend Sir Robin Knox- Johnston.

It is the world’s longest ocean race at more than 40,000 miles.