This test is published in partnership with foilshop.co.uk
Review: Tez Plavenieks
Pics: Oli Lane-Peirce
This isn’t the first time I’ve tested the half hard, half inflatable board concept. For Windsurfing UK’s sister magazine SUP Mag UK I was lucky enough to hop aboard one of the first Pendle Boards (which is essentially what the DUO Boards Wind 130L is) and give it a run out in both river SUP and SUP surfing mode. Since then I’ve also used the DUO Boards WindSUP model as well. Licensed to Cesare Cantagalli’s i99 brand the Pendle Board is now being pushed via the DUO Boards brand exclusively.
For 2021 DUO Boards (and i99 in general) are being brought into the UK by MCC Marine. Alongside standard windsurfing gear, the DUO Boards range is being given a lot of attention – and for good reason. Being half inflatable and half rigid means riders are primed to enjoy the benefits of what this design offers: all the positives of owning an inflatable sled (easy storage and transport) but with the performance of a hard windy machine. The additional good news for anyone looking at the DUO Boards Wind 130L is its foil ready capability.
With the DUO’s front half deflated it fits inside a neat carry bag for compact transport. The designers have given due thought here making it check in friendly if you fancy heading off overseas via air travel 9when we can of course). There’s even enough room inside the bag for a few additional extra bits of kit. Add one of i99’s compact DUO rigs (also available) and foreign travel with windsurf kit’s never been so easy.
If you have limited space at home then you should also be looking at the DUO Boards package. It’d tuck underneath a bed easily and no van required. With gear like this, there’s no reason not to own your own kit – wherever you live and however you travel to your windy venue of choice.
So what of performance?
Initial thoughts may be sceptical, which I get. Most air filled boards don’t quite compare to their harder shell siblings. But with the DUO Wind 130L only being half inflatable it’s a different kettle of fish.
The tail section, where all the good stuff happens during planing, is typically recognisable as a freeride windsurf board. It’s moderately narrow at this end with double back straps. The rounded pintail means the straps are fairly close together which allows either a more outboard stance for racey style riding or come inboard and upright for a more cruisy experience. This complete rail to rail control is also key for foiling – more on this in a mo.
Up front the inflatable section doesn’t have a standard mast track. Instead, there are two double bolt holes that allow a mast base to be fitted. I was a little wary of this but it remained a secured fixing point throughout testing. I preferred the rearwards setting. For comfort, and to avoid toe stubbing, a circular foam covering sits over the fixing point with your UJ screwing into the top. That does raise the rig off the deck a few extra inches so you’ll need to account for this with boom height.
Due to limited hours and conditions on offer I spent most time testing the DUO Boards Wind 130L in windfoil mode. The reinforced fin box takes a foil no probs and feels secures when flying. Uphauling stability of the DUO is great, even though it appears to be smaller than its quoted dims at first glance. At 90kg and in quite some chop/swell I had no trouble hauling my rig out of the water and getting going.
Once in position, the DUO tracks nicely. There’s a very small amount of ‘play’ through the front section as, after all, it is filled with air. By and large, however, it feels like a proper windsurfing board.
A few tugs on the backhand, whilst rocking weight on to the rearward hard section, sees the tail release efficiently. As such riders will be foiling as early as with any EPS constructed hard board.
Flying along the whole thing delivers all smiles. There’s a slight nose flex where the rig sits at times when undulating over choppy sea states – this is that play already mentioned. Again, this is to be expected as it’s full of air. When windsurfing attached to the water this would be even less and is pretty minimal anyway whilst foiling. The DUO is a great jumper and allowed some fun boosts off the flotsam. It’s nice to gybe having enough width to remain stable through the turn but nimble enough to provide engagement. In terms of overall enjoyment the DUO Board Wind 130L won me over no end.
DUO Boards’ Wind 130L half inflatable half rigid windsurf board really is a feat of engineering. It’s such a winning concept that’ll appeal to many riders with different requirements. As a compact travel windy sled you’ll be well sorted. If you’re a windsurfer lacking on storage/transport space then apply here. Beginner windfoilers will have confidence they’re not going to be smacking the nose off during those learning catapults. Whilst advanced flyers will appreciate the nimble and throw about foiling performance you get. All in DUO’s Wind 130L is a unique and enjoyment filled but if kit that requires your attention.
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