The Sibello brothers surge into the lead after day one demolition derby. Andy Rice report from the world championship in Cadiz

Carnage reigned in the 49er fleet on the first day of qualification in the world championships in Cadiz. Amidst a catalogue of broken masts, sails and even a boat that is a virtual write-off, Pietro and Gianfranco Sibello of Italy took the lead of the regatta with three second places.

“We just tried to sail conservatively,” said Pietro, the helmsman. “It was really a matter of staying upright and keeping our heads while other people made mistakes. There were a couple of times when we nearly pitchpoled but we had good reactions and managed to avoid capsizing.”

Amongst all the survival sailing going on, some of the better sailors were still thinking tactically. Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks are lying third overall after a 2,2,3 scoreline. “The wind has been up and down and it was quite strong. The shifts were very big. We always had to look very carefully at the sea because it was quite easy to lose a position. We also focused on making good starts.”

The Brazilian team of Andre Otto Fonseca and Rodrigo Linck Duarte have been steady improvers over the season, but were shocked and surprised to be lying second after the first day. “Today was very good,” said Fonseca. “We had never been so fast in that wind. We are getting better regatta by regatta. The boat was really fast. It was a hard day with a shifty wind and we had to rely on some luck too.”

Luck eluded Pre-Olympic winners from Australia, Chris Nicholson and Gary Boyd, when their spinnaker halyard stripped itself through the cleat and blew apart in their first heat, forcing them to go ashore and rig a hasty replacement, in time to get back out and score a first and fourth place. The fourth place included a capsize at the leeward mark, and there was hardly a boat that managed to stay upright in the windier, second group of the day.

World No.4 sailors from Britain, Alister Richardson and Pete Greenhalgh, saw their favourite mast blow apart down the final run of the second race while they were lying third overall. They managed to drift through the finish line in 11th place, but then faced a tow in while the third race got going. It was a war of attrition, and many sailors faced a long evening in the boat park readying their skiffs for further high-wind action today.

Results (after three heats, provisional)

1. ITA 6 Pietro Sibello/Gianfranco Sibello

2. BRA 823 Andre Otto Fonseca/Rodrigo Linck Duarte

3. GBR 2 Christopher Draper/Simon Hiscocks

4. UKR 5 Rodion Luka/ George Leonchuk

5. NOR 11 Chrostoffer Sundby/Frode Bovi

6. GER 12 Marcus Baur/Max Groy

7. ESP 4 Santiago Lopez Vasquez/Javier de la Plaza

8. ESP 31 Juan Luis Paez Gutierrez/Carlos de Bricio

9. DEN 21 Jonatan Aage Persson/Thomas Iversen

10. USA 13 Timothy Wadlow/Peter Spaulding