I think the best starter boats are centreboard boats between 14 and 20 feet. Most grown-ups don't really want to get wet and aren't too concerned with learning a lot of the finer points of balance and sail trim. They want to get on, drink beer and float around for a while (perfectly honorable aspirations as far as I am concerned). SO - all the go-faster gear is a bit of a waste, because the boat needs pretty good electronics to be able to tell you what the result of tightening your backstay an inch is. And it's a PITA to have to put down your drink and put your shoes on to pull on something that isn't that important anyway....
So - my $.02 - get something that isn't too expensive, that has a few dings so you won't feel guilty about destroying a piece of maritime history - make sure there's a porta potti and a cooler, and no holes in the hull that aren't supposed to be there.
Go out and have all the accidents, groundings, near-misses, gear failures until you understand what you're doing wrong, then paint her up pretty and send her on her way to teach the next bunch.
(Cause I have to admit that I find few things funnier than watching a moneyed newbie on a sled trying to figure out what rope he is supposed to pull next)
Last edited by Sailormann; 04-06-2007 at 01:36 PM.