The History of Rooster and the Laser Class
When the Laser Class as it became Olympic in 1992 I was a skinny Europe sailor and had been trying to keep my weight off to helm a 470.
I was encouraged to leave my technical Europe, put some weight on and join Stokes Bay. I had some early successes, managing 2nd at the Palamos Olympic Classes regatta Christmas 1992 and 3rd at the 1993 Laser National Championships.
I was always frustrated with the controls on the laser. No blocks or even thimbles. I did my apprenticeship and learned how to use them, but I looked for better solutions. I imported Spectwelve from the USA which I sold to UK sailors for pin money. They certainly helped me to 25th at the Worlds in Wakayama in 1994.
GBR Team at the Wakayama Worlds. Can you spot the three young sailing legends: Iain Percy 20th, Hugh Styles 39th and Ben Ainslie 43rd.
I was still frustrated by the mainsheet on the laser, always tangling on the bear-away. Despite my efforts, it was not until after our Olympic trials in 1995 that I found myself with the time to solve the problem, calling it Polilite. I was still attending the Olympic regattas scene, but this time as a coach to the GBR Europe Team. I gave the current world Champion, Robert Sheidt, a couple of Polilite main sheets to the to try and miraculously he loved them. It was then that I realised I had enough income to leave my engineering job and put my energy into Rooster. I started sharing as much information as I could on our website to make it ‘sticky’. Polilite® sheets took all three medals at the 2000 Olympic games and is still the choice of medallists today. Carbon tiller and extensions were added to our portfolio, closely followed by hiking shorts which we completed after we had lost our laser dealership. The rest of the clothing as they say is history. To bring them to the mass market, I just had to sail at lots of UK and World events to spread the word – what a hardship. 😉
Keen to share video, but with the internet too slow to cope, we launched the Single-Handed Techniques CD in 2001.
I continued to do talks around the country, sharing the Boat Whisperer Techniques and finally got the inspiration to film the Boat Whisperer DVD’s with Laurence Handley as our guinea pig.
I’ll never forget trying to walk across the boat park in the Australian worlds in Terrigal 2008 where every Aussie sailor accosted me as they wanted to buy Laurence a drink.
In 2010 we added the Boat Whisperer Tactics to the series – all filmed in Lasers at Cabarette.
I love the class because I love the sailors. I have also loved improving the boat with the Padded Toestrap, Clew Strap, Laser Bailer Spring Plate, Toestrap Adjustment System ‘New Rules’, and the Ultimate Laser Traveller. When adding Polilite, Carbon tillers, carbon extensions and technical clothing we have quite a global export portfolio.
Funny how things turn out.