As a designer I always regarded the TI design to be superior to the older AI design, that's why I selected the TI over the AI initially even when sailing solo. It looks to me that all the shortcomings in the AI design from my eyes have all been corrected and the boat would most now be desirable even to me. Here are the shortcomings and explanations:
1: The old AI sat too low in the water, and there was not enough freeboard (height of the gunwales) to suit sailing on rougher conditions. This has been corrected. Plus the fact you were sitting below the waterline.
2: The bow was too narrow and thin without sufficient flotation, this caused the old AI bow to dive in certain conditions (the TI bow also dove, but for a completely different reasons), by making the bow more bulbous this should correct that problem.
3: The front hatch on the old AI leaked much worse that the TI, the TI design is actually not bad, I suspect the new AI now has the same double seal design and the front hull section strengthened to not allow as much flex (like the TI front was re-designed in 2011-2012). All good...
4: The AI hull itself was too flexible, and couldn't stand much in the line of extra sails, etc, now that seems to be much stronger (close to the TI)....all good.
5. The drop down center board on the TI was way superior to the dagger board on the AI design, I'm happy to see this.
6. The AMA's on the old AI were too small, I'm glad they are now more in proportion to what the TI had, now the AI should be able to support the right amount of sail (the original 60 sq ft sail was too small and short to provide enough low wind performance. (actually my #1 complaint about the AI.). I always contended the sail should be bigger, and always can be furled in some in bigger winds, but in winds under 8mph it was a dog (TI had the same issues).
7: With the carrying capacity increased this will be good for us expedition type people.
The only reason for people adding a jib on the previous design was to try and increase the low wind performance and possibly the ability to point a little higher. With the now taller and larger sail and the larger AMA's to support it, I suspect the need for a jib has become a mute point.
I can't wait to see the changes on the TI, my wish list follows:
1: taller and slightly larger sail (around 110 sq ft).
2: Either slightly larger AMA (to support the larger sail), or a slightly wider stance (basically does the same thing).
3: better AMA attachments (double redundant bungy system), and some means to prevent AMA collapse from the nylon sheer bolt breaking and capsize risk.
4: slightly modified hull design to allow semi planing (round out the tail of the boat slightly)
5: Increase the weight capacity to 800 lbs with AMA's and tramps installed (pretty much all of us use that number anyway with 3 people on board). Even Hobies own literature shows more than two people on the boat pretty much all the time, that's what it's built and promoted for as a family boat, it needs to have the correct capacity stated to do that. Having dual plaques for both kayak mode and TI mode would alleviate that. (all this goes back to Hobie trying to protect it's sailing market by understating it's adventure lines of boats, not kosher in my book, they have to realize by now that their recreational kayak/fishing kayak/adventure market is ten times the traditional cat market with a whole new class and breed of people coming on board). Please don't mis-understand what I'm saying, I am not knocking the traditional sailing market at all, I feel Hobie is the strongest in that market and needs to remain so, I'm just pointing out, that this new breed of customers and market that they created themselves (brilliant move by the way), may not be the feeder to their traditional sailing fleets that they probably intended initially, they created a whole new monster of customers (LOL) way bigger than I think they ever imagined, now they need to feed that monster of their own creation by not artificially limiting capacities and performance (only my own personal observations and opinion) , these are totally different markets and people and need to be kept in separate buckets as totally different markets at opposite ends of a spectrum (to be honest they have done an excellent job so far). In my opinion Hobie can be the strongest player in both industries (I suspect they already are LOL)
6: If the mainsail were larger and taller, and better AMA flotation( item 2) the need to add a jib for lower wind conditions would be eliminated. As with the AI, the sail can always be furled in a turn or two in higher winds (as long as it's clearly written in the manual and instructions, this should be sufficient, pretty much everyone knows this already especially in winds over 12mph, you pretty much have to reef the sail a little (one of the strongest design aspects of the boats).
7: keeping the boat simple to operate for the beginners, yet still capable for the more seasoned adventurers I think is the key here, the focus should remain simplicity and ease of rigging and launch, they appear to remain focused on those aspects (good job Hobie)
If the seats are changing on both boats hopefully they are taking into account headroom (like on the new AI), having a 2-3 ft taller sail would alleviate many issues related to this on a new TI with the new seat.
In conclusion I think Hobie did all the right things to improve the AI, and if I didn't have the need to carry lots of passengers sometimes I would desire this new model myself. Unfortunately I don't have the luxury of owning both, so I will have to wait to see what changes are in store for the TI. Since I couldn't wait for the improvements on the TI designs, I went ahead and modified my old TI to my own specific needs, and am perfectly happy with what I currently have with the wing sail and the ability to sail into the wind with ease, the boat is specifically configured for the low typical winds we have in our area, hopefully the refresh on the TI design will make it more desirable for others to go out more often in lower winds (more often than not I'm out there totally alone currently, as nobody even bothers to go out in light winds), hopefully with a freshened design I will see more guys out there in the summer. I know there are hundreds of TI's and AI's in my area, but most weekends I'm the only one out there currently every weekend thru the summer (8 months out of the year).
I'm very impressed, good job Hobie.
my two cents