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Demise of the Laser 4000

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Mark Aged 42 View Drop Down
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    Posted: 01 Jul 20 at 8:26am
So at my club we have a strong Oppie fleet, then the teenager go into Topper or Laser 4.7. 
Some families then buy a Topaz so a parent can sail with a bigger child, or 2 bigger children can sail together.
Others go into Fevas. 
But we have no class for 2 adults. I got to wondering what would be a good choice.
Then I recalled the Laser 4000. They sailed well, had a neat system for crew wight compensation, and were well made. It seemed to be a good husband-and-wife boat.
And the class had Audi sponsorship for a while. 
What happened? 
Was the reputation tarnished by the 5 tonner?
Too expensive to make?
I'm curious.
And bored at work!



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Chris_H View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Chris_H Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 20 at 9:01am
I am of the age when a lot of the hugely successful and popular Laser 2 fleet I was in, with a very well supported and sponsored circuit, migrated to the L4K. It was the explosion of the skiffs, with Topper ISO etc providing other brand competition. And then sailing in general and all sorts of other life factors played a part in the general downturn and almost extinction. I dont think the L5K had anything to do with its demise - in fact, I thought it provided a "halo" around the L4K. All similar skiffs eventually died in the same way. Some are still around raced by enthusiasts. I thought it a good boat, if a little heavy - but then they all were in those days.

I sailed one on a Neilsons beach holiday in Greece 2 years ago as part of their holiday fleet. Brought back some memories ...


Edited by Chris_H - 01 Jul 20 at 9:08am
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Bootscooter View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Bootscooter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 20 at 9:51am
Same for me Chris - 110 boats at the Mumbles Europeans, nearly that for the Plymouth Nats in '95..... it was a wonderful time. Nearest modern day equivalent (for attitude, racing and parties) is probably the RS200 now.
'95 was the beginning of the end I think, with a significant number of teams jumping ship to the 4K after the Sarasota Worlds, and I guess we all started getting a little older.....

I've raced against 4Ks in handicap events and it always looked a good boat, and seems to be sailed by nice people.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Chris_H Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 20 at 9:53am
Originally posted by Bootscooter

Same for me Chris - 110 boats at the Mumbles Europeans, nearly that for the Plymouth Nats in '95..... it was a wonderful time. Nearest modern day equivalent (for attitude, racing and parties) is probably the RS200 now.
'95 was the beginning of the end I think, with a significant number of teams jumping ship to the 4K after the Sarasota Worlds, and I guess we all started getting a little older.....

I've raced against 4Ks in handicap events and it always looked a good boat, and seems to be sailed by nice people.

I was at Mumbles too  ;-)
And the Worlds at Lake Como, Italy
The heyday of my dinghy sailing was that time period in Laser 2's on the circuit.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Sam.Spoons Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 20 at 10:03am
Douglas would be better equipped to answer this question but it doesn't seem long since the ISO and L4k were thriving. FWIW the ISO held their last Nationals in 2014 but last has double figures in 2009, L4k was the third most popular single trapeze two hander by nationals attendance in 2019 only beaten by the 29er and 420 so the most popular adult boat.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote andymck Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 20 at 10:32am
We have a few 4ks still at Rutland. We have had 4K match racing events as well.
As a fleet there was a general loss to the rs 800 And a few to the B14s when we realised how to sail them in the early 2000s. LP then stopped building them when the sales fell to replacement levels rather than expansion. The build, like the 5k was heavier than needed, and there was no attempt to update the rigs or racks. I still get in one from time to time, and a revival did happen a few years ago. But with no active builder and an ageing fleet this is only ever going to be an enthusiasts boat.
It was a shame as I found both the 4K and 5k great boats. Yes they were heavier, but the also has more rocker that made them much more rewarding in light winds and also bigger waves than their Bethwaite contemporaries. Clearly though those boats were far superior in normal wind conditions, due to weight and better rigs. They also required more regular replacement, and evolved more proactively when issues became apparent. The Laser way was to use cheaper materials and over engineer everything.
I did wonder if there was a place for them a few years ago. But given the price of their nemesis classes has also fallen for older examples, I feel it will only be a niche class.
We have found that 4ks and also laser 2s are fantastic cheap boats to coach our youth sailors. We have managed to create a multi class club based structure for them. We have a mixed fleet of 2 handlers they sail, which are based on a subscription usage model. They all have their own single handed too. Parents are also beginning to use these boats, so hopefully improving participation as well. They include fireflies laser 2s 420s rs 500s 29ers and 4ks.
Apart from the 500s and fireflies (club owned) and 29ers I don't think any of the others cost more than a few hundred pounds.
Only issue now is that covid has apart from household combos meant they are on the beach.
I have discovered that with my daughter, a reluctant 13 year old, the laser 2 has been a revelation. Which given at uni I thought their only real use was as a plant pot was a great surprise.
Many apologies to the laser 2 from years of verbal abuse I gave them

Andy


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Post Options Post Options   Quote Rupert Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 20 at 10:35am
Originally posted by Sam.Spoons

Douglas would be better equipped to answer this question but it doesn't seem long since the ISO and L4k were thriving. FWIW the ISO held their last Nationals in 2014 but last has double figures in 2009, L4k was the third most popular single trapeze two hander by nationals attendance in 2019 only beaten by the 29er and 420 so the most popular adult boat.


The Fireball appears to be missing from the last couple of years, but will be well ahead?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Noah Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 20 at 10:40am
Apologies for bursting the bubble Sam, but whilst the 4-Tonner has had better attendances than I would have expected (and it always seemed a nice single-trap assy boat), the Fireball results are missing from the Y&Y stats - 26 in 2018 (depressed by the worlds) and 44 in 2019. These push the Laser 4000 down to 4th o/a and 2nd adult boat in 2019.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Pierre Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 20 at 3:03pm
And the Osprey had 44 in 2018 and 41 in 2019 so not bad either :-)

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Gfinch Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 20 at 3:56pm
Can't beat the 4000 for 'bang for buck' in terms of fun.

Class had a mini-revival of enthusiasm in 2014 but it is still niche class I think. I had plans to try and do the circuit and other events, but a mate bought a National 12 and I then went down that route and now have two.

University of Southampton had a fleet of 4 or even more for 'casual sailing' based on Southampton Water which was great fun.

The Euros looked good last year in a great part of the UK too:


 
3513, 3551 - National 12
136069 - Laser
32541 - Mirror
4501 - Laser 4000
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