Kite magazin: Alma 6 review
AIRWAVE ALMA: BEST OF BOTH WORLDS?
Kite Magazin reviewed the 6m Alma in their August issue, and kindly gave us their permission to translate and publish their review, below:
No one can claim that the kite market has no exciting innovations to offer. Let us introduce: Airwave Alma. The soft kite specialists have cleverly developed the idea of a hybrid and equipped it with closed-cell struts. And this plan works perfectly!
Airwave has launched a very exciting concept with Alma, combining design features from closed-cell foil kites, hybrids, and even a bit from classic tube kites. This combination is reflected in both the handling and the flight behaviour, but more on that later.
The construction, as well as the colour scheme, is eye-catching. The front area of the leading edge consists of classic closed air chambers. From about halfway towards the trailing edge, it transitions into a single-skin design, which is also reinforced by ribs – nothing unusual for a hybrid kite. But here's the twist: Airwave has added five closed-cell "struts" to Alma, which run from the leading edge to the trailing edge. The design comes from the minds of BGD designer Tom Lolies and foil world champion Maxime Nocher.
This addition aims to make the kite not only stiffer and more stable but also less prone to fluttering. The shape is intended to morph optimally as a "reflex profile" depending on the angle of attack. When depowered, the trailing edge can flatten backward, significantly reducing lift and power. When powered up, the kite takes on a camber shape. The kite has a medium aspect ratio and relatively long, downward-pointing tips. The bridle layout is kept simple with only three levels. Airwave claims that the weight is 20 percent below the lightest tube kites on the market. The twelve-metre size is a whole 300 grams lighter. While the specific competitor is not disclosed by the manufacturer, it is evident that the six-metre size is incredibly light at 1.18 kilograms. Despite the lightness, it is engineered to be stable, with Airwave ysing quality fabric from Porcher and lines from Liros and Edelrid. Of course, there is also a drainage system.
The Alma can be easily set up ready for launch position without much fuss. The leading-edge cells can be pre-filled if needed, and they rise sufficiently when gently tugged on the front lines, making it easy to get the kite in the air. Due to its size, the six-metre Alma fills up quickly and seems to have good pressure, so you don't have to wait for powered back lines for the kite to fully inflate. Even with light wind, the kite already takes its final shape before reaching the zenith for the first time. Additionally, it can be pulled up into the power zone effortlessly even in strong or gusty winds without tugging. This excellent impression carries over to the flight stability. One immediately notices how little the Alma flutters or struggles with collapsing tips compared to common competitor products. Of course, the fabric in front of the trailing edge develops wrinkles when depowered and pushed high on the bar. But this is intentional and does not negatively affect the stability in the air. On the contrary, it feels like the Alma has a built-in autopilot that keeps it airborne even in the lowest wind range. The suspension is neutral, making it less susceptible to back-stalls on the back lines compared to some other kites. The kite maintains its shape well even in very gusty conditions.
The Alma feels snappy and direct at the bar. While the bar forces are not high, the pressure point is remarkably precise, although the sweet spot is small. Even tube kite pilots will get along with it right away. It responds to steering inputs with no delay and feels wonderfully agile without overwhelming with nervousness.
The Alma showcases its agility in fast and tight flight and turning behaviour. It executes loops rapidly and precisely in all desired radii. The power delivery is consistently smooth and very well controllable. The low-end performance naturally depends on the intended use. The Alma only requires very little wind to fly stably, making it super easy to handle. With the six-metre size, you'll need good technique to get into foiling in winds below ten knots. However, if you have the skill and aren't in the heaviest weight class, the six-metre size might be all you need for foiling. It also offers a broad wind range because even in stronger winds, it remains effortlessly flyable due to its excellent depower, high stability, and very good handling.
Chief Editor Arne had "the best wave-foil session of my life" in Nørre Vorupør, even though the wind varied between 10 and 20 knots. The Alma is extremely quick and responsive in waves, hardly coming out of the air during drift and immediately responsive to the slightest tug – a true precision machine that is also easy to fly. This initial short test was focused solely on foiling, but we are already excited to try it on a twin tip, surfboard, and even during winter snow kiting. The Alma definitely has the potential for that. Oh, and by the way, the relaunch also works well, both from the front lines and using one or both back lines. Just in the wave, you might not want to get washed with it.
The Alma is an impressively well-combined hybrid of a single-skin, hybrid, and tube kite. It blends incredible agility, high performance, and sporty yet straightforward handling, making it enjoyable right from the first minute. Its potential extends beyond that of a pure foil specialist.