Sizes Available: 3.5, 4.0, 4.5, 5.0, 5.5, 6.0, 6.5m
Sizes Tested: 4.0m
Forget what you think you know about wings, the Unit D/LAB has arrived and sets a new benchmark of wing design. With over 15% in weight savings and 50% higher stiffness when compared to the original Dacron version, the performance of the Unit D/LAB will blow your mind.
The Unit D/LAB isn’t just a lighter version of the Unit; the performance has been significantly improved, allowing you to fly earlier, with more grunt getting you up on foil sooner. You’ll experience improved acceleration and higher upwind angles even in lighter winds. The character of the Unit range is tailored for stable and effortless drift when riding waves and swell. With the comfort and control of our new rigid handles combined with the extra grunt and lift of the wing, the Unit D/LAB excels across disciplines from surfing waves, sending jumps all the way to freestyle and freeride.
Visit for more info: https://www.duotonesports.com/foilwing/wings/unit-d-lab/
The Wingsurfer Says:
It feels to us like the Unit just broke the rules of a zero-sum-game. If you subscribe to the school of thought that wing performance and feel becomes exponentially better with each gram of weight reduction, then the Unit D/Lab jumps to that equation’s logical conclusion, and if that isn’t enough, it does it while increasing the airframe’s stiffness to the next level.
Design & Features
The Unit in the D/Lab construction most noticeably stands apart from the Dacron Unit construction through the apparent use of its shiny Aluula material. Aluula has a laminated sheen to it and features a unique weave that feels a bit more rigid in your hand and most strikingly, extra light as a package coming out of the bag. The Unit uses Duotone’s standard Airport valve which connects directly with Duotone’s pump hose without the use of a nozzle; the inflation system’s twist valve rotates with the insertion of the hose to keep air locked in the wing. Deflation options are available through both the inflation valve and a dump valve on one side of the wing, making both inflation and deflation quick and easy. There’s a good-sized distribution valve between the leading edge and the boom/strut and it comes with a lockout if you want to isolate air pressures or have some extra redundancy on the water.
The canopy has a thin and minimally sized window that runs vertically in the forward portion of the wing and the trailing edge uses two minimal battens along with a fine insignia cloth to stabilize the leach flutter. Instead of using the standard soft handles, Duotone has introduced two rigid handles that attach to the boom and offer your hands a wide array of placement options and a fairly thin diameter oval style grip with stamped EVA for traction. The boom has a subtle kink mid-way which seems to angle the rigid handles away from each other and line them up for a more ergonomic alignment with your wrists. The neutral handle on the leading edge is soft and flexible and there’s a neoprene pad between the handle and the leading edge that is easy on your knuckles when you’re transitioning to that handle as well as when you’re flagging out the wing while riding waves.
Our initial notes were how light the D/Lab construction felt while handling it on the beach. The airframe is flickable and quick to respond to any inputs with minimal inertia or resistance to our movements. The other apparent quality right off the bat is the extra stiffness in the airframe that originates from the Aluula material itself. The diameter of both the leading edge and the boom run on the small to medium size which makes the wing look and feel very aerodynamic and efficient. It amazed us that the use of Aluula accomplishes extra stiffness with smaller sized inflatable spars.
The first thing we noticed on the water was how incredibly stiff the airframe is during pumping. Upon waterstarting, you can feel that every ounce of pumping motion goes into lift generation with amazingly little of your energy being eaten up by flex in the airframe (compared to standard construction wings we have tested). The D/Lab airframe reminded us a little of a windsurfing sail, which uses rigid carbon fiber spars and tension to deliver a crisp and efficient sail surface. For wingsurfers who are using lower volume sinker boards, the stiffness delivers incredible power out of each pump which in turn made us feel like we could get away with a bit smaller of a wing, with each size having better low-end through extra powerful pumping. During surf and downwinding sessions, we often try to get away with the smallest wing possible in order to utilize the most-nimble airframe and the Unit D/Lab clearly wins that battle. The stiffness also seemed to enforce positive tension in the canopy which seemed to reduce flutter noise on upwind tacks and during times when the wing was sheeted out.
The second most noticeable behavior is that the D/Lab’s featherweight airframe is incredibly easy to steer because there is no swing weight or resistance to your inputs. This lighter feel probably pays dividends to smaller users who struggle with maneuvering wings in the water or during lighter wind when the wing is typically larger and often underpowered. We found that this extra agile maneuvering helped us keep the Unit higher in the window, the wingtip clear of the water and was particularly delightful (yes, delightful) during transitions, tacks and other freestyle maneuvers. During downwind wave riding the D/Lab seemed to float significantly better because of the lower weight and the wing seemed more out of mind as we focussed on chasing glide and riding waves.
In terms of overall feel, the D/Lab enhances the general efficiencies of the basic Unit design which generally feels very clean and crisp and features excellent upwind penetration along with low drag. The D/Lab’s lighter weight tends to accelerate forward and makes going upwind feel a bit easier with a high angle of attack and less resistance as you point high into the wind. Because the Unit has a narrower profile, it doesn’t have the super low-end pulling power of an entry-level wing, but rather the real focus is on a tuned-up racier power profile that is precise, accelerative and will entice riders all the way up into every form of advanced riding.
As mentioned, the stiffness in the frame allows you to cover the low-end/underpowered sessions with the rider’s pumping technique exploiting the airframe’s stiffness, which allows you to rig a size smaller and still have the power to get going in the lulls. On the other hand, the high-end is the one area in which the D/Lab construction may feel too stiff for some riders. As you approach over-powered riding, the rigidity of the wing can make the power delivery in gusts feel so abrupt and aggressive that riders may want to lower the inflation pressure during over-powered sessions to soften the feel of the wing. More advanced riders probably won’t have a problem with this extra stiffness as confident technique and skills can embrace and utilize the stiffness in over-powered riding, but for those riders who are less confident and prone to mistakes, the stiff and rapid response to large gusts may be overwhelming and will warrant paying better attention to wing size and rigging down if in question.With regard to the handles, we tested them in both warm and very cold conditions and found the oval bar grip to be comfortable and easy on our fingers. It seems as though the industry is still quite split on soft and rigid handles, both having their merits as long as the execution is proper. The open real estate of the handle requires less precision to get ahold of the wing, so in hectic transitions or clutch moments you have an easy target to land a hand and keep going. The ability to fine-tune your hand position by moving it a millimeter to the left or right is great for riders who want to have perfect tuning. Since Duotone was the first to release a rigid boom option, they’ve clearly improved on that by splitting the boom into two handles which makes packing up and storage much easier and no bulkier or difficult to rig when compared to a wing with soft handles.
To be very clear, the comparative feel between the D/Lab and Dacron constructions is night and day and is not a matter of splitting hairs. If the wing’s nimble feel is an important quality to you then the D/Lab is definitely worth a demo. The extra range you get from the airframe stiffness and pumping makes this wing extra versatile for skilled riders and for some will be well worth the added cost of the new materials.
For progressing riders, The D/Lab construction’s light weight might be a big attraction, but they will likely find the D/Lab much easier to handle in its lower or middle wind range. For those riders who want a little softer feel and don’t need the lightest wing on the beach, the regular Unit with Dacron construction is a very compelling top of the line choice. While the D/Lab weight savings and extra stiffness is apparent in all sized wings, it will probably have the biggest impact on riding in the larger size wings of the quiver where the weight savings really adds up. In the smaller sizes, we think the D/Lab difference is still very apparent but probably much more valuable or perhaps cost effective for riders that focus on the finer points of wing handling. Either way, the D/Lab experience is worth a demo to sample the outer limits of lightweight and stiff construction.