I do believe that the new LF Models are referred to as the Venture. There isn't a significant amount of difference. I don't think you'll have a problem learning with that board. IMO, longer boards are easier to learn on, but also weight plays an important part. In your picture in your profile you look to be less than 120 pounds soaking wet so I don't see that as an issue for you.
Many people use a standard wakeboard handle. The potential safety issue is that when you wakesurf, there are times that you slide down the face and are actually going faster than the boat. Should you fall at that instant with your arm or head going through the handle, you could suffer an injury - however unlikely. The wakesurf specific ropes have a small or NO handle to avoid this.
The rope length should be long enough to get up and allow some slack, but not so long as to have excess rope that needs to be coiled in your hand or that can get tangled around your feet. I have 10 feet plus the bridle attached to the tower and that gives us just the right length.
The one recommendation I would give that I think many folks make mistakes with is DO NOT try and toss the rope too soon. On your first several tries, just concentrate on getting slack in the rope. If there is slack in the rope, you are freesurfing...but when you lose the drive (as you will repeatedly at first) you don't have to get picked back up and start over again. You just reel yourself back into the pocket - it's mostly just a matter of mileage.
The quicker you are able to get those miles on, the quicker you'll be freesurfing.