At the end of our first season in a 4000, its time to reflect on our journey and look forward to next years events whist reflecting on "Does the 4000's Unique Weight Equalisation Actually Work?"
Our journey started about the same time last year when some super keen 'Laser® 4000 sailors meet with me to discuss how we could move the class on. It appeared that the die hard sailors of this class still believed they had a boat that was unique in its Weight Equalisation and fun to sail. I did not take much convincing that Rooster should get involved as I had loved sailing the boat in the 90's in its hay day, but would it suit me and the wife now?
Rooster became officially the licence holder
for the 4000 class and the Class Association adopted their new title with relish. Meanwhile, I busied myself finding a tired 4000 to tart up. It was not hard. For £950 I picked up a boat just 12 miles from home. The process of overhauling and repairing the boat was documented here on my blog
. I am constantly adding to this blog - as I find out ways and techniques to maintain the boat.
Previously Loved Laser® 4000 turning into a Rooster® 4000
The Dinghy Show was an excellent success at rebranding the boat - the class loved it.
In the spring we managed to sort out sails that worked the same as the original, but were perhaps more up to date:
photo © Richard de Fleury
The class were very positive - embracing the changes with open arms.
Our first gentle outing was a success - our boat handling was up to the 12 knots at the Weston Grand Slam. The racing was tight but we were quicker at picking up the gusts downwind - or we were lucky.
However, our first real test was the Weston Open Meeting. 1st, splash, 1st, splash, 1st, 3rd. Ah - this machine needs some respect.
Sarah and I had our own issues to sort out - the big flappy thing at the front was causing us the odd hiccup in the breezier conditions. I had to turn up out of the gybe slower to give her more time. Tacking could also be an issue, but as long as we communicated and took it steady round the tack, we were OK. Still we capsized tacking, catching a sheet around a cleat on the mast - we noted to keep the lazy sheet tight to stop it flapping and carried on. 1st overall (rack: 1/weight:0), 2nd overall (rack: 4/weight:2)
We tested ourselves in Hayling bay for one windy day's racing. All went to plan - no swims and steady in the tacks. Perhaps we had it sorted. But again we were never under pressure from the fast asymmetric fleet we were racing against. We took line honours in both races.
However, we still had not really tested ourselves under pressure. Our first big regatta was the Italian Nationals. Again thankfully we were pretty much in control. The wind only ever got to 15 knots - but in these conditions were were electric. We named the boat skippy as she loved the bow down speedy conditions - we did too! Winning the Italian Champs was a boost to our confidence for the Euros two days later.
However as the Euro regatta started we knew there were still some skeletons in the cupboard. Sure enough - as soon as it got a bit fruity, we were once again in the drink.
photo © Chiara Lodoli
Despite some major mishaps, we lost the Euro's on the last beat of the last race. We had to keep the local hot shots Anna Farrari and her boyfriend Andrea Cavaglieri more than a place behind us. With two legs to go, we led with Anna in 4th, but sadly she was too smart and knew her lake too well. 1st overall (rack: 6/weight:3), 2nd overall (rack: 5/weight:2)
Perhaps we had been unlucky, but the fact was we were still a little shaky in the stronger breezes. Still it was a terrific regatta, Anna and Andrea were worthy winners.
photo © Chiara Lodoli
Back in UK with no time to sort out our gybing, we faced the rest of the UK fleet at the Nationals. Again our story was one of consistent speed in the top three - followed by a splash, Top three, splash. We ended up second to a consistent Jason Kirk and Scott Dawson. We were pleased with the final result, but we knew our boat handling had let us down. 1st overall (rack: 1/weight:0), 2nd overall (rack: 4/weight:2)
photo © Richard de Fleury
The season for us went to Grafham. Here we learned to soak in the light winds and gust hop upwind. We were pretty much on the pace and in control the the regatta. 1st overall (rack: 5/weight:2), 2nd overall (rack: 7/weight:3)
photo © Richard de Fleury
We took some time to study 'blow though gybes' to improve our breezy gybing technique - our breakthrough was at Barts Bash at Hayling Island. Sarah strangled the gennaker into the gybe and the boat behaved like a puppy on a tight leash. Wow. Nice result too. We absolutely love racing against the 29er's. We were a little slower than them - but with some good tactics we could hang onto the best of them.
So the last regatta in the series for the year was the Rooster 4000 inlands at Rutland. With a couple of decent blow through gybes under our belt, we ventured out for the first day which was pretty windy. All was well.
Second day it was wild:
photo © Richard Barnes
We managed a few pretty cool blow through gybes, - we were ecstatic. What a feeling.
1st overall (rack: 4,weight:2) 2nd overall (rack: 2, weight:1)
Looking Forward to the 2015 season:
Now we have the appetite to harden ourselves ready for next season. Do a little more boat maintenance and put some honest hours on the water so the first high stress gybe is not a stress any more. However, we are also aware that Jason and Scott are also revving up for next year, intending to defend their well won National title. Anna and Andrea will be at Quiberon to defend their Euro Cup. John and Fran are also still challenging to take yet another Euro Cup victory. However, in the aisles there are plenty of new kids on the block, just ready to topple us all: Ambrogio and Givanni Liva from Italy were unlucky in the Euro's breaking their mast, but still came 3rd; Calum Terry and Tom Evill from Uk loved the windy conditions at the Nationals and are still learning. I also hear on the jungle drums that Dave Hayes and Keri Harris will also be joining us for the Euro's, these two helms have a wealth of experience in asymmetric boats. The event calendar is perfect
. One big event a month and the 20th anniversary Euro Cup in Quiberon. If you are planning on going, why not add your name to the 21 already signed up
. We are expecting 20 French sailors, 8 Italians and who knows - maybe 30 British? It should be an excellent event. I am told that the French and Italians are desperate for more boats for their home fleets - so if you know of a previously loved Laser® 4000 in your boat park that needs a new home, please let me know - I can certainly find a new home for them in UK, France or Italy.
And my conclusion about the weight equalisation? By my experience, we are as fast as anyone at rack:4/weight:2, we just need to keep the aluminium above the plastic. Winners appear from both ends of the weight spectrum. I never feel disadvantaged in any condition. I just relish being back on the water to race my Rooster 4000 next year. Why not check out your position on the Weight Equalisation Chart and come and have a play in the class
with surely the biggest bang for your buck with equal racing, whatever your size.