Course confusion led to a surprise victory this afternoon for Conrad Humphreys' Hellomoto in The Open@Skandia Cowes Week

A last minute change issued over the radio just before today’s celebrity Open 60 race caused mayhem in Christchurch Bay this afternoon. The initial result, which gave Emma Richards’Pindar Alphagraphicsline honours in her neck and neck battle with Mike Golding’sEcover, was overthrown in favour ofHellomotoas it transpired that much of the fleet had taken the wrong course.

Winning skipper Conrad Humphreys, sailing with former Scotland rugby captain Eric Peters inHellomoto, explained at this evening’s prizegiving: “We knew [we’d won] just as we were coming up to that little boat with a big flag on it, almost saying ‘We’re a mark of the course, we’re a mark of the course’. We were thinking ‘Why are those guys going a little bit too high and a little bit past it?’ That’s the point we thought ‘they’ve made a mistake and we’ve won it.'” Meanwhile, emerging from a day grinding the winches inHellomoto’s ‘engineroom’, Peters caught his breath to say “I’ve got a lot of respect for the guys who go around the world and do that every day for three and a half months.”

Ahead of the fleet, the battle of the titans was finally resolved asICAP Maximusrecovered from an OCS start to catch up with arch-rivalSkandia Wild Thing, overtaking just before the Poole Bar mark to give a 19 second lead at the buoy.ICAP Maximus’ co-owner Charles Brown commented about the race: “They had a couple of nice lifts and we couldn’t pass in the Needles Channel, but we broke through by the top mark. It was a great run back and a good race.”ICAP Maximusfinally crossed the line 7 mins 26 secs ahead of her rival, which would have given the super maxi a comfortable lead of around three minutes even had they been racing on handicap.

Questioned about how today’s result affectsICAP Maximus’ morale for the Rolex Fastnet start on Sunday, Charles Brown said: “We feel very positive about the race. There’s still more to come from the boat – we’re only sailing at about 90 per cent of what she can do – but there’s a hell of a lot to learn. These boats have a lot of technology to make the most out of, so learning’s what it’s all about.”