DUOTONE E_TYPE 7.3M 2019 TEST REVIEW
Retaining the “performance no-cam” motif for new brand Duotone, the E_Type offers a concise range of seven sizes stemming from 5.4m to 8.2m to cover the wind range of most recreational windsurfers. Available in two colour ways as standard, there is a lot of monofilm used throughout the sail’s panels, including the luff panel. Alternatively, you can opt for the HD version, which uses x-ply of varying weights throughout. Recommended for use exclusively with SDMs and tested here on a Platinum stick, the E_Type is one of the tallest on test here, yet was one of the easiest to downhaul due to its relatively low luff curve. This can be accredited to the brand’s established ‘no compromise design’, aimed at generating bottom end power by retaining flex in the mast, without sacrificing top end stability. There is some tuning range available, marked helpfully by the brand’s VTS 2.0 system, allowing the leech to fall away in the upper panels. Setting relatively flat at rest, the E_Type possesses plenty of material in its luff sleeve, enabling the profile to breathe much deeper once the sail is powered. The idea, noted by Chief Designer Kai Hopf, is to increase the sail’s range: “Adding profile in the top area and reducing the loose leech while increasing the mast twist similar to our racing sails helped a lot in generating planing power and acceleration yet keeps the profile stable, which ultimately results in a super fast no-cam sail”. Finished in the manner you’d expect from a loft of Duotone’s experience, and sporting a competitive price tag, it would be interesting to see how the E_Type stacked up against its dearer rivals.
“The “E” stands for “electrifying”, “effective” and “easy to control”.
Rigged for marginal winds, the E_Type is in its element, generating plenty of useable feedback and powering smoothly and progressively through the hands. The pull comes from high up, yet the movement in the luff sleeve makes the delivery gentle and progressive, affording the rider time to correct their stance and counteract the energy provided (almost akin to an early warning system!). In their literature Duotone suggest the E_Type delivers the energy without even the need to pump and we have to agree with this: if you have a passive riding style, just stand there and wait for the forces to be channelled automatically to the board. But if you’re more proactive, the E_Type responds beautifully to pumping as well, the reduced luff curve bestowing the mast with the life and response required to surge power through to the board with every cycle. Once planing, the sail settles into a comfortable, somewhat upright stance, the high centre of effort giving the sail a positive yet manageable feel in the hands. It is certainly more freeride than freerace in nature, and is forgiving for long sessions on the water, the breathability in the sleeve helping to absorb any harsh impact as you travel over choppy seas. Its high pull position, coupled with its tight mid-leech, also make the E_Type a fantastic foiling partner, capable of making the most marginal of conditions a lot of fun. In transition, the sail does feel its size compared to some, yet rotates smoothly, the battens repositioning easily around the mast as the power returns smoothly once sheeted in. As the wind increases, the E_Type can be re-tuned with more downhaul and outhaul tension in an effort to settle any drift in stability. In drag race mode, it reaches a fast comfortable cruising speed, after which it can’t be cajoled into accelerating any more. Instead, an E_Type rider would be best served in changing down sail size earlier, making the most of the design’s bottom-end power and its ease of use.
More freeride than freerace, the E_Type provides hassle free plug and play fun for making the most of your precious time on the water. And at £559.00 it represents real value for money in this group.
Other sails in this test: