As the buyer of the above boat (!),
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”.
Congratulations on your purchase – we have struggled against that boat for years even when the previous helm was some 70 yrs old and suffering from Parkinsons and still managed the occassional 1st.
Regarding your second statement – it was always thus so!. before the Mk IV the woodie was always assumed to be superior and nearly all the best helms sought out a “good” woodie with a good pedigree. Unfortunately no one told Stuart Rix and he won the nationals one year in a Mk2 +S.
If you are keen at doing well you will try harder, practice harder and buy what you perceive is the best equipment/boat. The results may be a lot better but many will always want to attribute it only to the boat.
The Mk IV is great in that it creates a level playing field with no other boat percieved as being any better.
With the mix of boats and helm/crew abilities I firmly believe that the Gold/Silver/Bronze fleets is the way to go to encourage everyone to have a go at racing. Race training for newbees and people that want to improve is usually arranged by the class as an added day to a weekend regional event.
Many years ago we went to Grafham Water for a training weekend with Michael Mac that started us off but more importantly some of the couples we met that weekend have become our closest friends even if they have subsequently given up Wayfarer sailing.