DUOTONE S_PACE 7.8 2020 TEST REVIEW
A wonderful all-rounder, the S_Pace is easy to rig and get on with, whatever board it is partnered with, the conditions it is used in, or riding style of the pilot. There is masses of tuning range available, even beyond the wide tuning VTS markings provided, so spend time experimenting and reap the rewards.
The S_Pace is new to the Duotone ranks for 2020, taking over from the S_Type as the brand’s performance cam sail. Drawing upon much of the knowledge and heritage from their world championship winning WARP programme, designer Kai Hopf has taken time to develop what the brand are calling their ‘3 in 1’ concept – allowing the sail to adapt its persona and brief (from foiling through to cruising and blasting) over a massive range through its tuning. At the heart of this evolution is the nigh-on straight upper luff curve, which enables the leech tension to change dramatically under different loadings. There are also a number of other notable features brought in from the WARP, such as the excellent Hyper Cam 2.0, being easy to fit into place on the mast and adjust as required using a Torx screw. Duotone also need to be given a great deal of credit for providing a detailed assessment of the mast brands that are compatible with the S_Pace – a realistic standpoint and a great deal of use for their customers. Rigged here on a Platinum 460 cm SDM, the cams are effortless to pop on – just downhaul by hand to provide some tension and roll the cams onto the mast. The boom cut out in the Aero Sleeve provides easy access to fix the boom in place, and two clew eyelets are provided, the bottom one exclusively for foiling to encourage a more upright mast position, as you pump to get going. Build and attention to detail are as you’d expect from this brand, with material choice and abrasion pads in place to enhance longevity, so much so that they offer up to 5 years warranty. And if that isn’t enough, they also try to make rigging as hassle-free as possible, so that the user can find the correct set every time they rig. This includes features such as the iRocket 2.0 batten system, where each batten tension is already calibrated and set in the factory, so that there is no need to touch it. Now that’s service!
The most versatile performance cam-sail with the biggest wind range you will find!
Light and easy in the hands at rest, the feel of the S_Pace belies its size from the off. Despite possessing dimensions similar to many in the group, it somehow feels small and compact, making it easy to handle and bestowing it with a genuinely broad appeal. The more novice or nervous pilot can simply hold on and let the sail take command, powering progressively and demanding little input or involvement. As confidence grows, the sail’s manners encourage the rider to adopt a more positive and proactive approach, pumping the sail as the reduced luff curve helps the sail’s leading edge to breathe and surge the board forward. This was also particularly useful when using the S_Pace for foiling, the flex in its leading edge and its crisp handling really helping to make the most of the conditions. Once planing, the sail’s forward facing draft location and low cut foot means that it naturally selects a more upright and efficient stance, maximising its exposure to the wind. It accelerates smoothly in the hands, and remains wonderfully balanced and poised, pulling purposefully through gusts and gliding gracefully through lulls. As the wind increases, a quick re-tune with more tension extends the looseness in the leech, with little effect on the depth or position of the draft. Partnered with a performance-oriented board, it’s a match for most in this test group, feeling fast and engaging on all points of sail. But straight-line blasting on the S_Pace is only half the story. Another equally notable quality is realised during cornering, its neat balance and fluid cam rotation again masking its size so admirably. Charge into the gybe with intent and the S_Pace is amiable to manage and position, before the cams rotate cleanly and effortlessly, returning the power in a snap. This might take some by surprise, but the sail’s built in softness helps to temper the delivery and afford the rider the time they require to keep up! When cammed 7.8m sails feel this accessible, they should be on the radar for even the most hesitant recreational sailor!
Luff: 486 cm
Boom: 219 cm
Ideal Mast: Duotone 460 cm SDM
Available Sizes: 6.0, 6.6, 7.3, 7.8, 8.3, 8.8, 9.3.
Other sails in this test:
THE LINE UP