These days I had the chance to test 2 short times the new Duotone wing called ECHO in the size 6,0 m². But as I see more and more questions about sizes of wings and foils for winging I want to share my impressions about that first.
I am winging since about a year, sometimes when I want to change away from kiting and in special conditions, but haven’t been more than a few times in traditional wing foiling conditions with waves but most on lakes. Till now I used most available sizes: 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 most duotone wings, but also Ozone and old Kitewings. Foilwing sizes till now just 1900 and 1400 cm², but looking for something smaller for higher speeds and jumping. Also boards I have tested from 110 litre inflatable – over 90 l hardboard – down to 72 l inflatable, which I still prefer and own, but is quite advanced.
My impression about wing sizes
is that you first have to check well if somebody is talking about traditional wave conditions for winging where you need relevant less pull to get into foil flight then on small lake conditions maybe even without any relevant wind wave. Just remember SURF/SUP foiling was born just without wing, which means you don’t need to much pull to replace a paddle, when starting foil flight on a wave. That’s why my impression is on a small gusty lake better go bigger, which brings us to topic Nr.2: ECHO in size 6,0 m²
Last year with my 168 cm and 62 kg I was happy with the first generation 5 m² from duotone and thought bigger for me could be already too big. Now to me also a 6 m² would be an option as it surprisingly didn’t feel too big, even not while flipping over for start. In the opposite it made balancing on my small board waiting for the next gust even easier. This not just by size and stiffer wing to boom connection, but also by the way to have the lower tip resting on the water as an extra floater with a very solid feel connection via the boom. In wave conditions this is for sure not relevant or even possible, but on a lake, it can make the moments with no wind much more relaxing on a small board. Also, from the first start I was directly able to do usual manoeuvres like jibes, tacks, 360s and small jumps without having the feel of a too big wing.
Coming to the differences,
upgrades and downgrades of the new duotone wing. The ECHO has now an extra small classic valve, not bad if you lost the duotone adapter or your pump and a zipper to reach the bladder. Repaired an bladder of the old 5 m² these days, which was also without no problem for me (first bladder repair in 21 years of mostly kiting with foils and surprised how easy it was 😉 ), so don’t know if relevant. Most important visual change is that the wing now has shorter battens and is additionally to the boom supported by 2 pulleys and a string. Which indeed made the wing feel even more solid connected to the boom but may have also disadvantages I will come back to. One of the most important advantages could be that this helps to have the middle batten split in two which again solves the biggest packing problem of the old wing: You may now fold the wing first in half of the boom length before rolling up.
On the other hand, coming to old and new disadvantages: The wing still lacks a bit in pressure support in overpower condition where other wings with middle strut might have an advantage I can’t quantify. When you depower the wing to much in the gust the front part of the profile will invert and will push your front hand even more down, similar also known from windsurf sails. But as said I can’t number if the wind range of the duotone is better or worse than other wings with usual strut support. The old duotone wing had the nice feature to trim the boom tension by shortening and elongating the boom, which was even possible and often used on the water trimming to more and less profile adapting to wind conditions. With new two pulleys and support line unfortunately designed to be fixed on the fixed end of the boom this feature is still there but much less powerful in use. Even if I haven’t seen the recommendation in the duotone description I would recommend to just hang off the line out of the back pully for the trim with shorter boom / low wind / big powerful profile. Unfortunately, this can’t be done on the water (tried it) until you don’t start to change system itself by tinkering for which for sure some not to complicated solutions are existing. If I will buy one I will modify it here.
Coming to flight characteristics,
to tell what all this could mean for your ride. My general impression was in general and overall relevant better but also not a huge step, so no need to immediately sell your old wing. Most important apart from the named even more solid feeling could be that self-stabilisation in role and yaw could be relevant better which all together is well feel able when pumping, but could also be when riding down a wave which I haven’t tested and still would expect that the boom less wings as ozone will be still relevant better in the behaviour when just been hold on the front handle. Also, about wind range I am not sure till now but would expect to be similar to the old one. In the first small jumps it felt more solid but comparing 5 to 6 m². A trick I have seen to instead of pulling out the boom grabbing the support line with back hand to lower the profile I also tested in overpower conditions, which indeed could be a nice new feature, but didn’t felt to effective till now and if pulling to much the trailing edge will start to flutter. So overall I see still quite some potential in the boom design but some of it seems to be still unused by duotone and wouldn’t wonder if they bring a version without boom as other brands as well in the future, but hopefully are going on to improve the design I prefer coming from windsurfing.
In conclusion compared to duotones first wing
+ power and solidity
0 wind range
– trim potential (on the water)
I am sure winging will become very big but with 21 years of kiting to me for now it will stay an option, as I see more possibilities in kiting (range, jump, distance, styles, etc.) and even in rare wave conditions actually prefer unhooked kite riding, what at least I learned from winging to improve freedom of surfing a lot.