RE: Starsurfer Medium
Hi Andrew and Pete,
Here's a couple of little situations I've discovered in the last 5 years of teaching several hundred women and kids per year.
On the first day on the water, the success rate goes way up if you put the newbies on both a simulator (so they have power control, steering, and tacking/turning around skills.
Then we take take them out on the water on the largest board available.
Why? For 2 reasons.
First, so I can "ride along" which takes all the "fear factors and "what if's" away as I so often tell them (did this yesterday) I'm coming back to shore, the board and rig are coming back to shore, so therefore THEY will be coming back to shore.
Secondly, having the big wide platform, and a "coach" allows them to not have to worry much about stability, and focus on learning how to make the board move, turn in the direction they want it to go, and turn around when they want to head back in the other direction.
So, for their intial "voyage" so to speak, it's very important that you use a really large , wide and stable board.
After that initial "voyage", the student has learned to balance on the board,, steer it, turn it around, and sail it back to where they started.
Depending on the student's weight and size (I weight about 175 #/ 79.3 Kg. now) I either ride along with the kids or small women (< 120 lb.s/ 54 Kg.) or use a short tether that keeps about a board length and a half between the coach and the student.
So, for your small kids, the Starsurfer M (my catalogue suggests there's only one size '04 Starsurfer and it's 88 liters) the Starsurfer might work OK, but for your wife it's going to be a bit small.
I've used the Rio S and Start S in the last couple of years, for kids that do well on their initial "voyage" as a "slighty more advanced) lesson where we use the tether until they show me that they have full control, and then they sail around on their own, but unless the child is really small, they let me know that the board feels alot smaller. Most can by this time in their fledgling WS career make the adjustments but I've had a few (usually over 100 #/ 45/Kg.) say they wanted a larger board.
Here's the "deal" on this.
Normally, you only get one chance to have your students/family decide that they either like windsurfing or they don't .
If you use a board or rig that's any more difficult than whatever the best you can get 1s, you significantly reduce the possibility for a positive "I can do this and I want to do it more" outcome.
Even if you need to rent a big board and tiny performance rig for that first time on the water, it's a very good idea (and investment) to do so, because once the "switch" (in the students mind) goes from "I can do this and it's fun" to "This isn't fun and I don't want to try to do it anymore" you've pretty much lost the one golden opportunity.
I don't have all the "warranty statistics" from '04, but everyone I know who bought Starsurfer has had pretty good service. Never heard of anyone breaking one in half.
In summary, after that first time on the water, and once you know your kids have "got it" the Starsurfer might be a perfect board for them.
For your wife, I think a Rio S would have alot more potential to be "ideal".
Hope this helps,