RE: Can you freestyle with a Carve?
Stefan: I don't know to much about the Cross series of boards, but I guess if anyhting they are most similar to the Kombats. Regarding the Carve, I suppose most tricks are possible, the difference is just that it will be much harder to learn them than on a dedicated freestyle board.
GEM: The Flare is indeed labeled as a dedicated freestyler and it also is a world class freestyle board. The fact though, is that its super easy to sail too. Its slightly longerr than a Kombat fx and has a more drawn out rocker (a pure classic slalom rocker) which makes planing easier. Together with forgiving rails that is still not too soft and no other gimicks on the bottom that gives a board that is easy to plane away on and has a less well definied treshold feel to the planing. It kind of glides up onto a plane fairly efforless and while you certainly _can_ boost its early planing even more by an active sailing style, it handles less active sailors well too. If also forgiving towards differnt sail types and handles both low power and high power stuff. Add the inboard straps and the only thing that makes this board kind of "odd" from a beginners perspektive is the odd deck shape at the rails, but as I wrote, I think you would get used to that pretty quickly. So overall, in real life it works well with beginners despite its freestyle designation.
The Flare is also fast with a differnt fin and a prettty fun blasting board, but since it misses outboard straps, it will never be an as good freerider as a Carve or even a Kombat, so a biginner looing towards that kind of sailing should of course look elsewhere.