TLDR; Living up to the marketing hype. Great all-around surf kite, especially for onshore conditions. Has the BWS DNA of smooth power and excellent drift.
Not much first hand info out on the latest kite from BWS so I thought I would throw a review out there.
I've been riding BWS gear for 3+ years now, so I'm a fan already. Started on the original Noise series. They were smooth, good power, stable, but slow turning. I switched over to the Noise Pro in 2014. The 8m is my goto kite in Central California. The 8m covers 90% of my riding with a handful of 10m days and a rare day on the 5m. I'm probably about 180lbs with a wetsuit and harness and my normal board is 5'11" 19.5 and reasonably full volume.
The Noise Pro was much quicker turning and a more direct feel without the rear bridle of the 2012 Noise series. In 2015, the TDZ variant came out. Principally a bridle upgrade that got rid of pulleys and changed the feel of the kite. Tad more bar pressure, but even more forgiving of slack line drifting.
The Aeneema came out in late summer and I ordered a 9m. Word was that a size larger might compare favorably to the 8m Noise Pro. After a few sessions and being a fan of the kite, an 8m became available that had been shipped to a customer instead of a 9m. I jumped on that deal while I could.
All my BWS kites have been good build quality and durable so far. The Aeneema seems to be built the same. A few crashes in overhead surf have left me with an intact kite so I think the quality of construction is still present. The kite does not have many wear patches on the leading edge. I am careful about self launching on a beach with shells or rocks.
I'm riding these kites strapless with a long throw bar and no depower adjustment. Elimination of the chicken loop and a longer throw gives me all the depower I need and simplifies the bar setup, even with short arms. It's just a regular BWS bar modified by Adriano at bigwavekiterepair.com with a new center line and release setup.
The kite has a newer style large inflate/deflate valve. Standard opening, the same as an inflatable bed. They also have a small valve so you aren't SOL if you forget your pump or the large attachment. A bit of wax on the large valve fitting helps it seat, but the large opening is really nice for pumping up and you can buy a replacement pump at probably any hardware store.
Compared to the Noise Pro, the leading edge diameter is much smaller so inflation goes pretty fast. Roughly half the volume of air between the Noise Pro 8 and the Aeneema 8. The bridle setup is simple, no pulleys and a direct steering line attachment. Very little to wear out and break.
The kite is extremely sensitive to proper line length. All four lines should be equal with the bar fully powered up. I was using old bars with the new kites and discovered pretty quick that my bars needed adjustment. Oversheeting will result in a backstall. Properly adjusted to prevent oversheeting and the kite does not backstall under normal conditions.
Launching the kite is straight-forward. Easily rolls onto it's side and self-launches. At this point, good launch/relaunch behavior is something I just expect. Relaunch in the water is about the same. Not as automatic as some beginner kites, but plenty fast and simple. I've only been to the beach once after dropping the kite in the waves.
Flight Characteristics: The Aeneema is a quick turning kite. The 9m felt about like my 8m Noise Pro. Quick and responsive, but not outrageously fast. The 8m Aeneema felt like a 7m or 6m kite when I first flew it. Very quick, turns on a dime without stalling.
The thinner leading edge likes to be flown faster than the thick airfoil of the Noise Pro. This is a little different, but manageable. Like all BWS kites, power delivery is smooth and bar pressure is fairly light. The kite likes a couple of pumps/cycles to get going. It does not have a large amount of low end grunt, the power just comes on and builds smoothly. Anyone used to a very grunty low end is going to feel like the kite doesn't have a lot of power. I'm riding my 8m when others are on 9/10m kites. There is plenty of power and upwind ability there.
I never had a problem with upwind progress on the Noise Pro, but the Aeneema sits farther forward in the window. Probably 10-15 degrees forward. This makes it easier to project upwind and accounts for the ability to ride a smaller kite than many. I mostly ride the 8m now that I have it. Requires a bit more work, but I prefer a smaller kite any time I can ride it.
The Aeneema performs best when you let the bar out a little on the upstroke. Just a couple of inches will let the kite fly upwards at a faster speed and you'll see an improvement on upwind performance. The original Noise flew this way, the Noise Pro is more willing to just let you grab a barfull and go. If you do insist on pulling to full power during the upstroke, the kite doesn't backstall, but a little reduction in the angle of attack definitely produces more power.
With the better upwind performance and snappier turning, the Aeneema is my preferred kite for more direct onshore conditions. Never was a problem with the Noise Pro, but it simply performs better in direct onshore.
The power can be instantly shut off by extending the bar all the way out. Drop in on a wave and just let the kite float depowered. Even when upwind/onshore I find I can get rid of power and better get into the pocket. With a normal bar and a depower strap, the on/off nature is still quite effective. Despite the ability to dump the power if needed, the overall power response is smooth and typical of BWS kites. No getting yanked away from your board by a gust.
Drift: Can't review a surf kite without talking about drift. Although most sessions aren't in groomed sideshore waves where drifting really matters. For real world drift, you know, where you cut back in onshore conditions without turning the kite first and suddenly find your lines slack. These kites are amazing. Even under very slack line conditions they retain a bit of steering. And usually will just gently settle until you reengage. It makes focusing on riding the wave much easier. The large depower range also shows itself in drift mode where you can let the kite float high overhead.
Pure down the line drift is excellent. Side onshore conditions see the kite drifting just out in front of the wave. The Noise Pro would drift right over the top of the wave or even slightly over the back. Your wind angle and mileage may vary, but so far this is a great kite for side onshore barrels as it keeps the lines clear of the lip. I haven't worked side-offshore yet. Overall the drift of the kite is extremely forgiving and gives plenty of room for recovery.
Things I can't talk about too much. Boost/Jumping/Glide, I use the kite to tow into surf. My jumping ability is marginal and generally limited to clearing whitewater or short hops. It seems to jump easier than my older kites and with the quick steering I have recovered a few landings that I otherwise might not have. A friend rode the 9m strapped and didn't seem to be having any trouble getting some decent air.
The 8/9 combo is more useful than I expected. I figured I was going to sell the 9m, but I have found it often works well when I would have pumped up the 10 TDZ. Overall the wind range seems a little smaller on the Aeneema than the Noise Pro. I typically ride the 8m from about 16kts up to 25kts. Then jump on my 5m Noise Pro when it starts to howl beyond that. The 9m is comfortable from 13-24kts I would guess. I have ridden both in lighter and stronger winds than is preferred, but they are pretty standard as far as wind range is concerned. Whatever size you currently ride, you can probably hop on the same size Aeneema and be comfortable. Go down a size if you don't mind working the kite, up a size if you want to just park it and go.
Word on the larger sizes 11/13 is that the 13m is a great light wind kite. Personally I don't ride anything bigger than a TDZ 10m so I probably don't have an 11 or 13 in my future. 11kts is light enough for me most of the time since you start to outrun the kite on the waves.
If you're looking for a new kite, definitely find someone with an Aeneema to test out.