Some comments from a New Boy
It seems to me its key to encourage participation regardless of Mark, experience or travel concerns
As Colin states in the right conditions a Mk2 or Woody in the right hands will give a Mk 4 a run for its money. One good helm at our club won the last race in their Woody (against many Mk4s) even though it was already sold in preparation to buy a new Mk4!
As the buyer of the above boat (!), I have to say I feel that the sheer diversity of use and aesthetic within the single class is great, as is the general atmophere of wayfaring in all its forms. I wonder how many people there up and down the country who think they might want to get into racing, but want to cruise and do general family/friends sailing too. If you want bums on seats/boats at events then I’d imagine I’m the kind of person that needs to feel able to come (he says!). This way you bring new people into racing, get them learning.
Thus, it would be a terrible thing to see a mark IV vs prior Mark split developing especially when so much angst and effort has been expended on making sure the IV is a wayfarer and that its fair and reasonable to compete with the previous versions. I do wonder reading this thread if there may be something of a “confounding variable” (as the statisticians say) with very keen experienced sailors buying the new version, thus giving the impression of “better”.
If travel is a problem for people (it certainly will be something would/will pose a problem for me if I become interested in racing) then perhaps regional series within the overall series could be considered. Say for example you attended 2 out of 3 meetings within a region that those scores could be totted up to give regional results as well as being eligible for the national series? At least you get more people at the events that are easier for them to get to and they get something to show for it.
it is a matter of bums on seats (and thwarts) to build that sense of enthusiasm and participation. As a newbie, my comment would be
make it easy for people to participate in Something, and enable them to learn and share as much knowledge and enthusiasm with others when they do!