Ok, wait, you live in FL AND have a TI (or 2) and you have yet to throw down and sign up? I live close to the Canadian border and I am thinking about it, seriously. I agree over the life of the boat, it isn't much to own a TI, but it just isn't my cup of tea. A well equiped TI with all the extras you would want is $5K+, while the 17 I bought used was $1600 with trailer. I like sailboats with tillers, boats you hike, if only a bit. Also btw, AI's can be capsized by wind. If houses are torn apart by it, AI's can be blown to pieces too. I have seen vids on youtube where the ama's are completely buried while a Hobie Waves scoots past, practically flat. ...
For now and still fell that 5K is a bit high for a roto molded sit on top with extras. My 2 cents and worth every penny!
Yes, I almost live on the EC course and my wife and I have a pair, yet I have not done it. Really had no desire until I visited the beach last year. At that point I realized that this was my kind of boating in my back yard, yet there was a good chance I could not do this Challenge. Whoa? What? An actual challenge for me, based on my kind of boating? You could put me in lots of boats in different places and I would be out of my element, but in small boats in the tropical parts of Florida, I'm pretty good. It's not all that often that someone suggests an adventure that makes me think I possibly could not do it. That's intriguing and something of an affront. I think I'll have to do the race one day just to make sure I can. If I were sure I could do it, I would be bored by the prospect. The possibility of failure makes it interesting.
I really don't think an AI can be capsized by just the wind. I think something would break first, so yes, blown to pieces, but not capsized. It just doesn't have the power to flip itself. I have tried! Yeah, you can bury an ama and make all kinds of dramatic splashing, but it won't go over. If you look on the Hobie forum, I recently posted about having an ama collapse in a strong gust, and my boat still
did not go over. It was darn close, but came back up. It also can't be pitchpoled. If you do something that would ordinarily result in pitchpoling a multihull, the AI just stabs itself into the water and then floats gently back up and continues on as if you meant to do that. (From my file of things I know, but should not.)
I agree with your comments about various weaknesses in the design. It's a consumer toy, and Hobie does a good job of addressing issues as they surface, but it's not perfect by any means.
Comparing the price to old, used boats is really not a fair comparison. When put alongside other new rotomolds of the same size, if you add the $500 (and cheap at that rate) for a Mirage Drive and some boat buck$ for a carbon mast, sail, rotomolded amas, seat, and stuff you will find that it's competitive. Nothing compares to it directly, which is why nothing else on the market costs as much, but if you brought anything else on the market up to being an AI, it would cost about what AI's cost.