RE: Help with recreational Formula Board choice...
Just a bit of a test here to ensure that you're strong in your final resolve. The basic thing that you've noted all along is that you're focused on a recreational formula board, and I've always thought that the FE160 might be a favorable option within that category. While I'm not using formula equipment, I've noticed that that there is a balance between design and construction weight. I sometimes feel that absolute light weight can be a bit overated, especially if one really considers the strengths of a good design.
Let me develop this some, because light weight has always been an arguable point of concern in my mind. If you wanted to be a competitive racer, I wouldn't recommend going with anything less than Starboard's top flight light weight construction. However, for recreational purposes, a little bit of added weight is in the noise level. For my high wind boards, I can say that my boards are quite heavy, at least 2-4 pounds greater than an equivalent production epoxy board. Despite the extra weight, I find that the design shape easily overcomes the seemingly great weight liability.
The 160 formula design was a solid performance winner on the pro circuit, so there's little question of its integrity, at least with a fair degree of experience under your belt. So, does the extra weight (but added strength and durability) really become a liability here? Of course, it's your decision, but I would be remiss if I didn't test your resolve on this point. The cost savings would be probably be enough to buy a new carbon boom or maybe an extra sail. Clearly something to consider seriously.