SHE may be thousands of miles away but her thoughts are already yearning for home.

Former Southampton City College principal Lindsey Noble, left, is among the Hampshire sailors embarking on the next epic leg of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

Crews are heading towards the iconic Panama Canal after setting sail from San Francisco against the spectacular backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge and notorious Alcatraz prison.

Lindsey, who says she is surprised by how much weight she has lost during the epic adventure, is part of the crew on board the yacht Switzerland.

And while she is looking forward to the cruise-like feel she is expecting as they sail through the famous Panama Canal, the 60-year-old is also relishing the final stages of the race and looking forward to being back home on dry land.

She said: “I’m glad we are on the homeward leg.

“I’m looking forward to getting back and I am counting the days now. I am really appreciating my life at home.”

This leg of the race is expected to be faster, but challenges include changeable conditions at the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone, also known as The Doldrums.

Lindsey said she is glad to be returning to warmer waters and continued: “The first week is going to be lovely downwind, sailing with spinnakers, so that could be good fun.

“I’ve been looking forward to the Panama Canal since I signed up for this.

“It’s going to be interesting and it will be more like a cruise as we go through.”

She admitted the high seas often make the simplest of daily tasks on board seem impossible and added: “It’s when you can’t find anything when the boat has moved and is slamming.

“I’m surprised at how much weight I’ve lost, but I am stronger.

“We are all living in such constrained circumstances, but everyone’s worked hard getting on with each other.

“There’s really nice banter and you feel supported.”

The yachts will have four days in Panama before heading to Jamaica, after which they will take part in a coast to coast challenge to New York before heading back to Europe.

The 400,00-mile global race is organised by Gosport-based Clipper Ventures with the 12 strong fleet skippered by professionals but crewed by novices.

Among those taking part are 18-year-old Edward Collision from Wickham, Steve Mabey, 47, from Southampton and Jacob Carter, 20, from Portchester.

The race will finish in London in June where it set off from last September.