JUBILANT sailors are celebrating the triumphant climax of the world’s longest and most gruelling ocean adventure.

Thousands lined the banks of the River Thames in London to welcome home crews from the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

Hampshire sailors were among the 250 amateur sailors receiving a hero’s welcome at the grand finale of the epic nautical adventure which has taken them 40,000 nautical mile circumnavigation around the globe.

Over the last 11 months the 12 competing vessels have faces everything from violent tropical storms, to savage 90-mph winds, freezing nights and scorching heats over six continents.

Late on Friday night as darkness fell, the fleet crossed the official race finish line in Southend, after a 30-hour tightly-fought battle across 198 nautical miles of the North Sea.

It was the final chapter of the 14-race, eight leg challenge Derry-Londonderry-Doire won the final leg which started in Den Helder, Netherlands, while LMAX Exchange bagged the overall race win - just four points ahead of second place.

Derry-Londonderry-Doire team included Alison Boeree, 57, a Southampton University lecturer from Lymington – who completed legs one-four and seven and eight.

As the parade of sail procession meandered its way up the river on Saturday to mark the end of the race, the crew of the IchorCoal wore black armbands and painted their nails blue and green as a tribute to Andrew Ashman and Sarah Young who both died during this year’s voyage.

The crew, which finished 11th included Davina Watson, 34, an anaesthetist from Winchester.

Since leaving London last year the fleet has visited Rio De Janeiro, Cape Town, Albany in Western Australia, Sydney, Airlie Beach, in Queensland, Australia, Da Nang in Vietnam, Qingdao in China, Seattle, Panama, New York, Derry-Londonderry and Den Helder in the Netherlands.

There are 84 sailors competing in the whole circumnavigation and 250 in all legs.

In third place was Great Britain, followed by Garmin in fourth and Qingdao in fifth.

Mission Performance finished sixth to the delight of crew members James Shepherd, 30, a banker from Alresford who completed the whole circumnavigation, Greg Miller, 40, from Gosport, and Alison Hudson, 44, ambulance care assistant from Lee-on-the-Solent who came on the first leg.

Da Nang – Viet Nam finished seventh, ahead of Visit Seattle in eighth which included crew members Rosalind Guy, 46, an IT training consultant from Hook, Chris Beddoes, 61, chartered chemical engineer from Hursley who completed legs one, four and eight and Katharine Garner, 57, retired air traffic controller from Burley who took part in legs two, three and six.

Clippertelemed+ was ninth followed by Unicef in 10th crewed by Jim Prendergast, 40, from Gosport Kate Whyatt, 59, a counsellor from Fleet, Tracie Appleby, 48, from Eastleigh who did leg eight.

PSP Logistics which featured Damien Sweeney, 45, a business director from Romsey and Max Stunell, 34, from Portsmouth – finished in twelfth place.

Clipper Round the World race founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, 77, described the 10th edition of the biennial race as "extremely tough".

As the first person to non-stop sail solo around the world in 1968-69, he said: "The conditions encountered in the Pacific were the worst we've seen in 20 years of running the race.

"I am proud of all of the crew; they have taken on all the world's most challenging oceans and have been very resilient.

"They should be justly proud of themselves - whether crossing a single ocean or circumnavigating the entire planet.

The event was founded in 1996 by Sir Robin Knox Johnston in a bid to give amateur sailors the chance to take part in ocean racing.

Most of the 680 sailors were novices - and 40 per cent had no sailing experience at all before signing up.

Since the event started more than 4,000 sailors have taken part in at least one leg.

The next event, starting in 2017, will cost £49,500 to take part.