INBOUND: DUOTONE Slick Concept Blue

Duotone recently dropped a fresh line in their wing range which aims to trailblaze with its legitimately environmentally friendly credentials. It’s called Concept Blue, and their popular Slick wing was the first to benefit. We went looking for more details…

So firstly, talk to us about Concept Blue, and what marks this Slick out from the rest in the range…

The 2024 Slick Concept Blue is a standout in our freeride and freestyle wing range. With sustainability at its core, this model shares the same updates as the Slick, delivering identical performance and durability. Prioritizing sustainability with undyed fabrics, bio-based bladder material, recycled plastic parts and reduced printed graphic applications, the Slick Concept Blue ensures an environmentally conscious and elevated wingfoiling experience. Available in eight sizes, from 3m to 6.5m.

Last year, we established the Concept Blue initiative, leveraging all available resources. We thoroughly analyzed the raw material production process to identify the areas with the highest potential for CO2 savings. Our goal was to explore alternative materials that could be substituted. This task is challenging since the materials employed must endure substantial stress and external factors like wind, saltwater, and UV radiation. Nonetheless, we can confidently assert that we currently utilize the best materials available on the market.

After thorough consideration, we have identified three key measures to enhance sustainability. Firstly, we eliminate color entirely from all fabrics, including the canopy and Dacron. Traditional dyeing involves harmful solvents and requires thousands of liters of water for rinsing, which we have successfully eliminated. Secondly, we use a bio-based bladder, which, though not 100% organic, is currently the most sustainable product on the market, offering up to 57% bio-based material and yielding approximately 30% CO2 savings. The third measure involves the use of injection-molded parts. This production process typically generates substantial standard waste, ranging from 10 to 30%, depending on the part.

We actively recycle this waste in our production to create other plastic components. For instance, the discs that house the valves or the cap of the airport valve are crafted from this recycled plastic. Each of these recycled material pieces is clearly marked with the Save Our Playgrounds logo for easy identification. While we haven't altered the valve itself, as it is a safety-critical component, that is our next planned step. This move aims to achieve 100% utilization of recycled plastic in all components.

What sort of rider does the Slick suit, and why would they choose it over the UNIT?

The Slick suits almost everyone that is keen to get out on the water. If it’s kids or beginners, freestyle pros or simply for cruising. The unlimited hand placement options make the Slick super easy to handle which benefits beginners and pros at the same time. Its smooth, predictable power delivery makes the Slick the perfect wing for anyone who seeks progression from the very start of one’s wingfoil journey, all the way to jumping backflips!

We assume you’ve had a good period of testing with the various materials involved in this, to ensure they can live up to what’s expected of them?

Yes, we have done extensive on-the-water testing, as well as in our own laboratory in Munich, which is unique to the industry – we have multiple machines which can measure stretch, tear, flutter in materials, as well as saltwater tests and a multitude of other tests, which mirror material testing at some of our suppliers, but over longer time periods.

To allow the use of more environmentally conscientious materials, is there a significant price difference between the Concept Blue Slick and its standard counterpart?

No, we have managed to keep the same price for both the original version of the Slick and the Concept Blue. Yes, there is less margin for us, as some materials and processes are more expensive, but the goal is to always try to keep the price and performance to that of an existing product, whilst increasing the sustainability of the product as much as possible.

So are there any performance compromises with a Concept Blue product?

Fundamentally, the Concept Blue Slick shows no difference in performance or durability compared to other models. The focus lies on the materials and potential improvements in this aspect. Notably, this project has its roots in the Save Our Playgrounds campaign, initiated some time ago. During that period, we engaged with our suppliers, urging them to provide more sustainable alternatives, ultimately raising awareness on this critical topic.

You obviously have a high-profile position in the wing market. By doing this, do you think other brands will follow your lead, and do you welcome that?

Of course, we welcome it and any steps, however small, are the first steps in the right directtion. I think a lot of companies almost give up before even starting, because they immediately get criticized for green washing, the moment you bring out a product mentioning sustainability. But the smarter customers, who understand that real sustainability is a very long process, will appreciate the first steps and follow the brand’s progress, year by year. If no-one starts, then there will never be any changes. Obviously, the key thing is to be open about each improvement, document it correctly and be truthful about the complete process – this is a key focus for Duotone/Boards and More in general.

How much of the wing is recyclable at its end of life? And where should it be taken?

When it comes to fibers, it is always difficult to produce new, high-quality fibers from recycled material. We are working on it, but it will take some time. Of course, you can also think in terms of upcycling and build something else out of a kite that is recycled. But if, as an ideal scenario, you want to have a kind of circular economy in which a used wing comes back, is completely recycled and new wings are then made from the recycled materials, it becomes significantly more difficult. This is something that cannot be done indefinitely because the molecular structure of the material changes with each recycling cycle. 

For example, you could mix some recycled material with some unrecycled to ensure you always maintain the same high quality. But as I said, this is a topic that we are discussing with our producer, but it is a big challenge. Perhaps we also need to think about rolling out such a concept across the entire wing industry to achieve the necessary critical mass so that it really offers meaningful added value in terms of sustainability. I think in the industry we all have a responsibility to think in this direction. We cannot absolve ourselves of this and must take these steps little by little.

The Concept Blue Slick was released amongst a bunch of other Slick and Ventis releases. Can you give us a little overview of those other wings too?

The 2024 Slick D/LAB epitomizes cutting-edge wing technology, delivering unrivaled freeride and freestyle performance. Premium Aluula material on the leading edge and strut enhances responsiveness, power delivery, and light wind performance while delivering exceptional strength-to-weight ratio. The MOD3 canopy adds dynamism, and the Mini Boom provides precise steering and control with an unlimited range of grip options.

The 2024 Slick is the freeride and freestyle wing for absolute control, with the Mini Boom offering direct steering and unlimited hand placement options. With superior top-end control and depower, the 2024 Slick is a versatile wing designed to withstand the demands of freeride and freestyle, ensuring an elevated wingfoiling experience with advanced features for maximum performance and control.

Then the Ventis D/LAB is the ultimate light wind freeride wing, coming with even more direct power and improved upwind performance for this season. It features an innovative 3-strut design and premium Aluula material in the leading edge and struts for light weight, efficiency and powerful performance. With its unparalleled responsiveness and power, the Ventis D/LAB is your key to unlocking the full potential of light wind wingfoiling sessions. Available in 7 and 8m.

The Ventis is designed for effortless freeriding in light winds, with improved power delivery and up-wind performance over its predecessor. The innovative 3-strut design and unique wing tips deliver maximum lift, power and efficiency, allowing you to get up on the foil effortlessly without intense pumping. The Ventis turns light wind conditions into a playground for progression. These are also available in 7m and 8m.  

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