RE: Best Formula board for intro
In addition to being more durable, the F160 Formula Experience (tufskin) is probably half the price of the F161 (wood), but at a cost of some extra weight. Aside from these factors, there are some other important concerns to consider.
First, is that the design of the F160 FE is frozen until December 2009, and this would serve your interests in helping keep you competitive with others racing the formula FE class. In particular, this would allow you the opportunity to concentrate on your racing skills without having to keep up to date with a new board every year. While many folks in the local formula scene might keep their boards for longer periods and still be competitive, the latest equipment can arguably offer potential advantages.
Second, a lot depends on the technical level of other components of your kit. FE limits the sail configuration to a lighter 3 camber (max) design, the mast to a 75% carbon content, and the boom to an aluminum one. Higher tech formula equipment requirements like this don't exist, so the financial commitment one might make is far greater overall.
Really, your best route must be founded in your available funds. Although some might point to the loss of performance you suffer with the extra weight of the F160 FE, I'm sure there are examples of sailors on FE equipment that have dusted competitors on top level gear. If I was to promote a direction, I would initially go with the FE board to determine if formula type racing is your cup of tea. Later, if you find great satisfaction in formula racing, you can readily upgrade and most likely get a fairly decent resale on FE board, given its longer design life.