SAILORS from Oxford University spent two weeks on the high seas to finish one of the toughest offshore races in the world.

Six members of the university's yacht club competed in the 1,805 nautical-mile Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, finishing 11th in the overall classification.

The crew, sailing their Prima 38 Talisman model, left Cowes, Isle of Wight, at midday on Sunday August 12 alongside the other 27 boats in the race.

They faced the tail-end of a tropical storm on the west coast of Scotland, oil rigs in the North Sea, and one of the world's shipping lanes as they made their way back to Cowes for the finish.

After more than 13 days on the water, the crew were welcomed on the dock by family and friends at around 1.30pm on Saturday.

Although they finished almost four days behind winners the Lombard 46 Pata Negra, the inexperienced sailors outperformed more than a dozen boats to finish in the top half of the field.

Crew member Mellie Bess, from Jericho, admitted the race was her toughest challenge at sea but reflected on an unforgettable two weeks.

She said: "The highlight was seeing all the wildlife dolphins pretty much from the start off Falmouth and then all around the race course.

"We saw whales off Aberdeen and yesterday morning the sun was rising over the White Cliffs of Dover so we woke the rest of the crew as we thought we were almost there.

"We got really sea sick in the North Atlantic and it was really tough.

"But the highlights outshone the lowlights."