Five Open 60s are joined by two super maxis as stars from land and sea meet in a celebrity double-bill

Today’s Open 60 celebrity race, The Open@Skandia Cowes Week, got off to a delayed start this morning as the organisers waited for the wind to settle down, but the fleet finally crossed the line at 11:00 to beat down the Solent into a light south-westerly. With a mean wind speed of around 1.5kts the boats will have an uphill struggle until the breeze builds, but the ebb tide should give welcome assistance on their first leg towards Poole Bar.

Each of the race yachts has one or more ‘land-based’ celebrities on board, with David Coulthard and Davina McCall joining Alex Thomson and Ben Ainslie onHugo Boss, and adventurer Bear Grylls sailing with Mike Golding onEcover. Conrad Humphreys’Hellomotohas Andy Goldstein and rugby star Eric Peters on board, while Emma Richards sails with Celebrity Love Island star and ex-footballer Lee Sharpe onPindar Alphagraphics. The only boat not to have a celebrity aboard is Nick Moloney’sSkandia, who sails with corporate guests as part of a prior arrangement.

The best start seemed to have been made by Alex Thomson’sHugo Boss, but competition will always be close in a race between sailors as talented as these Open 60 skippers and after a few minutes Conrad Humphreys’Hellomotoappeared to have taken the lead. With several hours left to go anything could happen, so an exciting finish looks likely.

Joining the Open 60s are super maxisSkandia Wild ThingandICAP Maximus, sailing head-to-head for the first time.ICAP Maximuswas forced to carry out a 360° turn after what looked like an OCS start, leavingSkandia Wild Thingto forge ahead and leave the fleet. These big boys will be happy with nothing but line honours, and as the first indication of how the yachts will perform in the forthcoming Rolex Fastnet, Grant Wharington onSkandia Wild Thingand co-owners ofICAP MaximusCharles St C Brown and Bill Buckley will be watching this first crossing of swords with interest.