I shared some preliminary information on the kite in another thread (in the hydrofoil section, of all places!
I have used now the 8m and the 6m, and am beginning to understand those kites better.
With the proviso that I have NOT tried the Marabou v.2 or the Hybrid, I can tell you that the thoughts on the weight are overblown, and are typical of theoretical reflection but at least partly detached from the reality of flying the kite. Something similar to those judging the GONG Strutless bad because it is not as light as it could be, and then overlooking its crazy capabilities in ultra light winds.
With that said: the Alma is an excellent kite.
I am not (yet) enamoured of it, mostly because I prefer even faster kites, and because I can feel bar pressure, which while not obnoxious, is taxing to me due to arm issues, so I always have a preference for ultra light-pressure bar kites.
The 8m is relatively fast (it gets faster on 18m lines, which is what Airwave recommends), and I can ride it in about the same lower conditions as I can my 9m Maverick v.2, which is not powerful per se, but is so fast it generates loads of impulses for riding and waterstarting.
I'd say 9 knots minimum, at my 110Kg, with the real issue hauling myself out of the water.
The 6m is – as the designer warned me – not as powerful as your usual 6m kite. With my 6m Maverick v.2 I can ride in 12 knots, and in a pinch I can waterstart in 10/11 full knots, as it zips so fast around it prevents me from sinking, and eventually with some pumping I'm up. I surmise a similar performance from the Alma 6m (I used it in very varying wind, and I could see other kiters on 12m struggling and losing much water).
did not test very high end for neither. But with the 8m I was out up to 16 knots, and felt perfectly relaxed. This is where my LEIs fail me: at 16 knots the Maverick gets a handful, zipping around and generating instant surges of power. At 6m I'm into perfect 6m territory.
On the 8m Alma, I was just waiting to see if more was coming.
So, quite a bit of range, and this is very very appreciable.
Am used to zippy kites.
I'd say on 18m lines the 8m is a bit slower than my gen.1 Maverick 10m. Not bad. Not exciting, but certainly not bad.
The 6m is where things get fun: much faster in the air. Not as fast as my 6m Maverick, but a pleasure to ride, turn, spin, and so forth.
The designer explained to me the best sizes – fun wise – are the 6m and the 4m.
I regret purchasing the 12m instead of the 4m! (but our winds and conditions conspired against it).
It is there.
Not as bad as many kites I tried, but certainly not as light as a Maverick, or a North Code Zero.
It does not increase dramatically with wind/manouvers: it is difficult for me to explain, but it is just "muscular". You feel you have to pull more, but it never gets painful (as other kites I tested in the past), and stays linear during manouvers, with no sudden spikes.
So while I do not really like it, it does not create me problems.
This is a super subjective judgement though originating from my specific ailments.
Am sure many would simply find it light-barred...
this is where things get extremely good.
The reflex profile works like a charm.
You release the bar, and the kite "dies" on the spot. Fantastic. Zero power.
I always hated foil kites and their tendency to accelerate on depower for a sudden last surge of power, the Alma does nothing like that.
Bonus point: I was self landing the 8m in about 13/14 knots, not easy the first time!!!
The kite touched down but was moving like crazy, so I decided to let it up as I was not feeling safer, and got ready to be yanked by the kite zipping super fast upwards. It *did* zip up like crazy, with zero power though. Super.
the opposite of depower in a way.
I use lift very sparingly, just for a micro help in foot switching (more to have power in the kite and use the bar as a "handle"). but it is there if called for, like foil kites do.
You push the bar and it begins to pull you up gently.
Not impossible to believe seing how they jump it with kiteloops in the official video.
But importantly: no residual pull (thus lift) on the vertical in manouvers due to the reflex profile, so lift is there if you wish it.
Can be jumped for sure, not by me
POSITION IN THE WINDOW:
Can't say, sorry!
I seem to remember it is not as forward as my Kitech FRS, but it is certainly much more forward than a Peak.
Have no issue riding everywhere. It will not be an upwind monster, but it was not thought as that.
I still seem to do better than my Mavericks.
Of course, this is where the rubber meets the road.
It drifts. A lot.
I can ride straight under it on a medium A/R foil and not have it fall: it just hangs there.
Have no idea if a Hybrid drifts more or if so how much, but the issue is not drifting at all with the Alma, it just does not want to fall if you ride towards it. Very rarely I have seen it begin to lose shape, and just super briefly, and I ride against it as much as I can.
Am not super excited just because I see wingers floating their wing, and I am envious.
It will never be the same, but this is probably as far as it can go in the "set it and forget it" style.
Have not yet tried to simply park it and drop down waves, as we haven't had powerful enough waves for that. I'll try it with my high A/R foil which glides much more and will see if I can just enjoy waves without thinking of the kite.
Bonus: you can turn going fast under it, it will slacken lines, and still remain concentrated on the turn you pull the bar and it will follow and turn with you. It is a new technique for me, but it works very well, and shows what the kite is capable of.
The 8m fell once, and it apparently tangled (looked so from the water).
Pull one backline, it turned, a gentle tug on the fronts and it was up in the air!!!
The 6m did even better: I botched a tack, and fell backwards losing sight and control of the kite, which went down. Again it looked the usual foil splattered on the water. While I'm looking, it catches some wind and bum goes up by itself! I was cheering like a child!
Do not know what would happen in ugly waves, but it certainly relaunches.
Gone are the days of endless debates on the Peaks which always "relaunch with the proper technique" – and that to my personal experience are simply anchors in the water 95% of the time.
The Alma just relaunches easy peasy!
DOES IT FALL FROM THE SKY?:
have no idea, never went near the lowest limit!
but even in about 6 knots, when I had difficulty get myself body dragging along with the board, and other kites were either loopuing on the beach or just being parked on the sand, it never did fall.
I let it reach the edge of the window (yes, I can be masochist...), and just tugged at a back line, and it got slowly up no problem. This is huge in my book, no more fighting to keep a kite up in 7 knots when the water current is robbing you of a knot or 2 and thus make the kite fall down with slacked lines.
It is uber subjective, but I love them.
Hate not having the 4m, which has the slickest colour scheme, but 8m and 6m are both super nice.
Got compliments for the looks from other kiters, so be kind and lend a tad of credibility to this
to me, the Alma (as the Marabou and the Hybrid, or the Firefly) speak like a swan's song of surfish kitefoiling. This is what we should have got 4 years ago, and got now, which is probably... too late, as the whole world seems to have moved to winging, and those guys are now scraping the 7 knots barrier with the newest materials.
It is a cheaper than many LEIs, it flies very beautifully, stays up in very little (am sure it will stay up in lower winds, but did not try), drifts incomparably to a LEI (never tried ALUULA though), has both lift and instant depower, and it relaunches. It is super easy to fly so you can have people learn with it.
3 years ago I would have written: this is almost the Graal of surf-foiling.
It still may be – in good company, probably. Whether there's any market left is just another issue.
But a surprisingly nice, balanced in its qualities, easy, and performing kite nonetheless.
Can't wait to test it on shorter lines still, like 15m to gain even more playfulness out of the big 8m, and some adrenaline from the 6m
If you can demo it, absolutely go for it.
It flies like a LEI, it just won't fall or lose control because you slacken the lines, and it will drift so much you can practically go full downwind.
And man am I loving not having to pump it or haul a pump with me.
I did not get them for free, paid for all the 3.
My judgement may have been made sweeter though by Airwave gifting unexpectedly a number of tshirts in various sizes... picturing the KOALA, their other kite!