Sorry for delay, I was travelling without internet connection in WA.
1) In general maybe some language issues between sticky and loose. Maybe sticky and free (as in "running free" ) are better option. Loose means more like waveboard - and that is not so precise abaout what we are discussing here. A loose speed board could feel very fast (nervous, over reactive) but not always show a fast time, a calm and controlled board might feel slow (or too safe) but record a very nice time. No question some of Falcons are good fast boards, but the scores are also well on the board/s (
) for the iS family (both light and hi winds). I do know in Holland we really don't have too many of the top National riders locked on Starboard at the moment, but take a look at the GPSSS and the fastest slalom board rankings (of all) belong to Peter van Dyke on the S85 (predecessor of iS87). Also some of the very fastest Dutch speed riders tested iS87 etc and also gave a very good rating (speed) and of course loved the range and ride..
Also with the iS it's important to note the difference between the very flat trim (low nose) and the board sticking; simply having a low nose might look like stick but same way, a nice hi nose alone does not gaurantee fast nor control (at the limits).
2) Production tolerance is for sure something we had issues with in one or two cases (older boards) where hand shaped proto/s were proven to be the "best" result in testing and then used directly for mastering the final mould; on one hand ensuring faithful reproduction of the test results board, but on the other also reproducing any "error" also faithfully. The newer boards have each year had tighter specs, tighter tolerances and even higher manufacturing costs to tighten(reduce) the tolerances (especially on the race boards) to the lowest practical levels. I don't think in general use or measurement you find too many critical issues with the newer boards.
3) Wood. In itself, not an expensive product, especially in days of carbon shortage
However the final process cost of a full wood board is actually quite expensive, and the reality is the commercial margin is less on Wood than Dram/Technora. if you ride a wood board over chop, then try the same in hi grade carbon (as opposed to glass with 3 strands of carbon) then the carbon board will be harsher, the wood board delivers a nice "crisp" ride without being to harsh nor too dead or soft. The ability for the board to retain a good and consistant rocker profile (essential in speed and hi performance) is better with wood than with cloth. You can see more of that info at http://www.star-board.com/viewpage.php?page_id=16
In comparing custom with production, other than warranty, you also need to consider resale value, which although quite OK in some extra special custom boards, is usually an easier and higher % resale with a known and strong production board product.
Hope this answers your questions, but please let us know if you would like more info.
Cheers ~ Ian