Really agree with you KBob - "Hapa" describes it well, and early indications are that this genetic experiment is paying off.
Besides wanting to have a very unique boat was there any other reason you didn't start with a TI and add the benches and other equipment?
As you know, the TI already has extra seating and more float, etc so this project originally grew out the desire to make the AI a safer, more comfortable boat with more sailing, fishing and diving possibilities. "Uniqueness" has no value outside the 3 mile nautical line surrounding the islands. Out in deep water, only functionality and dependability matter.
I just want everyone to understand that, in Batman's mind, there is absolutely no desire to "Hotrod" or pimp the boat for the sake of pimping. He hates hype and gimmicks. His focus is on pure functionality, and solving some of the weaknesses that make the AI less than ideal for Hawaiian waters. So he quietly set out to tweak a list of specific AI features that underwhelmed him. Among them: rudderpins, bungees, sailing position, stability, floatation, nose diving. fighting fish, storage and transport.
Once he started, things grew organically. And once the TI was released, he decided to breed the two boats.
It's really become a floating laboratory now and the work of refining continues.
The benches are a perfect example. Simple enough idea, but they add excellent rigidity to the frame, permit you to carry virtually anything from a person, to a cooler to a marlin, and still allow you to paddle instantly, whenever you need. They are light, simple and strong. They never catch the wind, or block your view and virtually NOTHING can go wrong with them. (Elm, as with tramps, once the benches are fitted, the Amas do not retract, and there is actually no need or desire to have that happen.)
My own AI has Hobie tramps, and I love them, but every time I struggle to land my boat, or a fish, or am caught in high winds/waves with the tramps on, I appreciate the bench more and more. The polynesians understood this and used the same "Haka" concept on their outrigger sailing canoes. So we couldn't really call that idea unique, even if we wanted to. (Except that, yes- you can easily take them off and make a camp bench with them).
To further answer your question, the 'Haka" bench idea worked out well enough on the AI, but combined with the TI Amas, it's fantastic on the water and comfortably supports a 200lb load (like myself). Or several supermodels.
It should be a great mod for the TI as well.
As it happened, waterproof cameras interested Batman a few weeks ago, and in a couple days he had cooked up an extendable mini camera jib arm that can be operated from the cockpit.
I would not be surpised to see an aluminum bow deflector and rudder next.
Again, all the tweaks are "modular" so the "Kahikolu" can go out buck naked with only AI /TI amas, or with just the batwing fishing weapons deployed, or fully dressed for the prom.
The designer has been fooling around recently with TI mods, such as batwings and other crazy stuff. Last week, I believe he solved the beach transport problem that's been nagging these big suckers. No scupper holes were harmed in the making of his film,.. Please stay tuned for that.