- Laser 4000
The Laser 4000 (aka 4K, 4-tonner) is a well known racing
dinghycrewed by two persons. Its one-designweight-equalised system enables physically differing sailors to compete on a level playing field. It is most popular in Europe, particularly the UK, France and Italy.
The 4000 is a fast,
planingskiff-style dinghy with a trapeze for the crew and trampolines for the helm. Upwind, the boat does not point especially close to the wind, but its fully battened sailsgive enough power to keep up with similar-sized boats. Downwind, however is where the boat excels due to its asymmetric spinnaker(aka gennaker). In a force 3 the 4000 will plane and the crew will make full use of the trapeze wire. However, force 4-5 is when the boat performs its optimum. The 4000 is fast enough to make use of the apparent windto reach the bottom of the racecourse sooner.
In lighter winds, many crews make use of the
jibing gennakerpole when sailingdownwind. This allows them to show a larger part of the spinnaker to the wind whilst sailing further away from the wind direction.
The Laser 4000 was designed in 1994 by yacht designer Phil Morrison. It is a
slooprigged dinghymade out of fiberglass. It features a single trapeze as well as an open, self-draining cockpit. Instead of a conventional kicking strap it features a gnav system, which pushes down on the boom from the top, instead of pulling from the bottom. This allows greater space for the crew to move from side to side.
Over the years the Laser 4000 events have given the fleet a reputation as competitive but friendly, with the day's racing followed by lively evening socials. The equalisation system coupled with relatively low sheet loads mean that a good variety of people are able to sail the boat.
A long-running problem in
dinghyracing is that light sailors are faster in light winds due to their lesser displacement and heavier sailors gain speed in stronger winds due to their increased righting moment. In the early 90s Laser addressed this problem with their equalisation system for the Laser 5000and Laser 4000.
When racing one of these boats, lightweight crews are required to carry up to 4 lead weights in their boat (securely fastened in the centre). To compensate for their lack of
capsize-preventing leverage, they are also allowed to extend the boat's rack outwards, effectively making the boat wider. Conversely, heavier crews will carry fewer weights, but must sail with narrower racks. Thus each team's total weight and leverage is equalised. The Laser 4000 equalisation system accommodates helms and crews weighing from 59-94kg (130-207lbs) each. Beyond that range the traditional wind strength advantages and disadvantages come into play.
Years of competitive racing have proved the system to be effective with all sizes of crews winning in all wind strengths. Several other racing dinghy classes have adopted a similar equalisation systems.
As with many modern racing dinghies, the Laser 4000 is
one-design, meaning that strict rules govern the modification of the boat, its sailing and equipment. This is to prevent an expensive competition of "modification racing", where only those who could afford the latest gadgets would stand a chance of winning.
[http://www.lasersailing.com Official Laser Website]
[http://www.laser4000.org.uk Laser 4000 UK Class Association]
[http://francelaser40005000.free.fr/main4000.php France Laser 4000&5000]
[http://www.laser4000.it Laser 4000 Italian Class Association]
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