Great Britain's Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks pulled out a useful eight-point lead at the end of qualifying in the 49er world championship in Cadiz

Great Britain’s Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks pulled out a useful eight-point lead at the end of qualifying in the 49er world championship in Cadiz on Saturday. A change of conditions did little to slow their progress as they notched up two second places in medium airs during the early session. Others would have to wait for hours on the water as the strong offshore Levante breeze finally gave way to the first sea breezes that this competition has seen.

The Norwegian team that had held joint first place with the British dropped to fifth overall after an 8,11 score in the lighter breezes, making way for the surprise package of this event, the Brazilian team of Andre Otto Fonseca and Rodrigo Linck Duarte, to move into second ahead of European champions from Germany, Marcus Baur and Max Groy.

Other British teams excelled in the medium airs, with Alister Richardson and Pete Greenhalgh taking a 2,1 score through some well-timed corner banging. Asked what their secret was, training partner Stevie Morrison answered for them: “Ring the bell.” That’s the slang used for sailing into a corner, an extreme move where you can win big or lose big. Paul Brotherton and Mark Asquith are on the edge of the top 10 after taking a 1,4 score through to the Gold Fleet finals which begin on Monday.

End of qualification is always a tense time, as many competitors’ whole livelihoods depend on their performance at this, the most important regatta of the year. Vincent Joyeux and Frederic Moreau looked glum at the thought of just having missed the Gold Fleet, although provisional results indicate that they have just scraped into the all-crucial 25th place by a point and a bit.

There are always some high-profile casualties who fail to make it through to the Big Boys’ final, and amongst them are Michael Hestbaek, a Danish two-time winner of the Europeans and eighth in last year’s worlds, who finished 29th. The Polish team of Pawel Kacprowski and Pawel Kuzmicki came frustratingly close in 27th place, but the Netherlands team of Pieter Lantemans and Pim Nieuwenhuis came nowhere close, rounding up qualification in 34th.

The irony for them is that having finished ninth at the Hawaii worlds in 2002, they have already qualified the Netherlands for a place in the Olympics next August. And yet if they fail to finish in the top 15 of the worlds, their national sailing authority will not send them. They have one last chance to book their ticket at the world Championships being held close to the Olympic venue next April. But there is a danger that they will lose their funding and support from the Dutch Sailing Federation between now and then. They face a long, hard road to Athens, but that is what Olympic sailing is all about.

Racing continues today after yesterday’s lay day.

Results (after qualifying rounds, provisional)

1. GBR 2 Christopher Draper/Simon Hiscocks, 14 points

2. BRA 823 Andre Otto Fonseca/Rodrigo Linck Duarte, 22

3. GER 12 Marcus Baur/Max Groy, 23

4. USA 13 Timothy Wadlow/Peter Spaulding, 23

5. NOR 11 Chrostoffer Sundby/Frode Bovim, 26

6. AUS 15 Chris Nicholson/Gary Boyd, 27

7. UKR 5 Rodion Luka/ George Leonchuk, 30

8. ESP 4 Santiago Lopez Vasquez/Javier de la Plaza, 31

9. GBR 7 Alister Richardson/Peter Greenhalgh, 32

10. DEN 796 Allan Norregaard/Klaus Naur, 34