Ken Winner and the Duotone Slick SLS 2023 at the AWSI

Foiling Magazine's Steve Sjuggerud speaks to Duotone wing designer Ken Winner about the 2023 Duotone Slick SLS wing at the recent AWSI event in Hood River…

For the full interview transcript, see below.


Steve Sjuggerud:
Hi, I'm Steve with Foiling Magazine, and I'm here with Ken Winner, the designer of Duotone Wings. But before we get to talk about this new Slick here, I wanted Ken to give a little backstory, because I believe Ken may be the innovator of winging as we know it today. So Ken, can you share a little bit of your background in winging for us?

Ken Winner:
So, about 10 years ago, I got into SUP board paddling, and I thought it might be interesting to try mating a wing with a SUP board. So I designed a couple inflatable wings, and I tried them on a SUP board, right along with Sky Solbach, and we decided it wasn't that much fun.
And then about eight years later, I saw a Flash Austin with a homemade rigid wing on a hydrofoil, and I thought, “That looks really interesting. I'd like to try that with an inflatable.” So, I designed an inflatable, and I took it out, and immediately was foiling with it, and I immediately thought it would be fun to do, because I had a sore shoulder. I wanted to paddle on foil and do down-winders on foil, but it was hard on my shoulder to paddle, and the wing took care of that problem.
So, I was immediately able to do down-winders with a hydrofoil and a wing and join in with my neighbor who was doing it all the time, also. Doing the paddle foiling all the time. So, that's where I got started on it, and it took me about six months of pretty much doing it by myself. And Sky would do it once in a while and my neighbor across the street, Alan Cadiz would do it once in a while. But I finally convinced the company that it was an interesting sport to put into production. So, then we started building wings and then some other people decided it was a good idea too.

Steve Sjuggerud:
And here we are, right? All this craziness. So, tell me a little about this new Slick.

Ken Winner:
Well, the Slick is our boom wing and if we flip it over we can show the boom. So we have this boom and the reason I went to boom early on is because I tried handles and I didn't like handles. They were crappy. So, I just went to a boom right away. And turns out some people do like handles and some people like booms. So, we do both now. So, we try to keep a fairly compact wing span and we put a lot of tension in the canopy, which gives it a lot of draft stability. Keeps the center of effort really centered. We put a little bit of reflex into the strut, which helps in a gust to keep the wing well balanced.
And we have windows that we feel give the maximum amount of visibility with the minimum amount of weight. So, this material that we use in the windows is not a great material because it's a little on the heavy side, so we don't want to use too much of it. So, we split it up into two panels on each side. And the other thing we did with the windows was we gave an orientation in this direction so that they're oriented. They have an orientation like the warp thread of the cloth, which is the direction that resists stretching. So, the cloth takes the load, the load doesn't pass through the windows so much. So, we reduce stretch in the canopy by orienting the windows that way. Any other questions?

Steve Sjuggerud:
No. Well, I have a design question for you because you come from a windsurfing background and so, in windsurfing in order to, when you get a lot of power, you would dump the top of the sail. So, when you get overpowered on a wing, where does that go? How do you dump the energy?

Ken Winner:
There's kind of a misconception in windsurfing that the rig just dumps the power. Your ability to dump the power has way more to do with your ability to sheet out and sheet in.

Steve Sjuggerud:
Okay. Yeah, of course.

Ken Winner:
And what happens in windsurfing is the whole rig flexes sideways. So, we don't have that with wings. We don't have that yet. Maybe we'll have it someday, but right now any kind of flexing is in the leading edge. The way you flex in a windsurfing mast, doesn't really work the same way. It's not really desirable. So, we really have to focus more on stability, keeping the draft locked into one place so that in a gust, the draft doesn't move back. And that's how we make the wings manageable right now.

Steve Sjuggerud:
And for the SLS, for this Slick, you mentioned a narrow wing span and the canopy and such. So, this is really designed for everyone, right? For it's an all around wing, is that what you would say?

Ken Winner:
The user is, it's an all around wing. It's not focused on surfing the way the unit is. The guys who do a lot of freestyle, most of them prefer this because with the boom, they can put their hands anywhere and they're still going to grab something when they're doing a trick.

Steve Sjuggerud:
Awesome. Fantastic. Ken well-

Ken Winner:
Yeah, so it's our freestyle all around wing.

Steve Sjuggerud:
Awesome. Well, thanks Ken. Thanks for taking the time with us.

Ken Winner:
Pleasure, thanks.

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