Duotone Windsurfing Testing Tenerife


Development of the DUOTONE 2020 freeride and race range on Tenerife - together with four colleagues from our factory in Sri Lanka.


Winter time is R&D time. During January and February, DUOTONE chief sail designer Kai Hopf and his experienced crew of slalom testers are developing prototypes in a mobile sail loft on Tenerife. For the first time four colleagues from the factory in Sri Lanka manufactured and adapted the sails directly on site.

Words: Bernd Zerelles

Duotone SriLankaWorkers Airport Tenerife

„Beanie and scarf… when I picked them up from the airport and we left the building, they turned around after a few meters, ran back to their suitcases to get warm beanies and woollen scarfs, before trying once more to leave”, Marco Lang, DUOTONE chief tester laughs. For people coming from tropical humid 30 degrees, the dry 20 degrees on the Canaries are simply: cold.


Our four Sri Lankans are namely Mrs. Mala Kumarihamy, Mrs. Geetha Wijerathne, Mr. Roshan Chandana und Mr. Prasad Samarathunge. These four chosen representatives of the 130 employees in our DUOTONE factory spent two months with our R&D team on Tenerife working on an innovative development project. You wouldn’t believe the decisive factor that urged sail designer Kai Hopf to leave Hawaii: he couldn’t find suitable riders for race and freeride testing anymore on the island of waves.

Duotone Windsurfing Worker in SriLanka

„Sending DUOTONE team riders to Hawaii, has always been wickedly expensive,” explains Raoul Joa, Line and Product Manager of DUOTONE windsurfing. “Our slalom team riders are training on Tenerife in the bay of El Medano during the winter months, as they can take advantage of the permanently installed world cup slalom course.” Since the riders won’t visit the sail designer, the sail designer will visit the riders – Kai concluded.


A simple idea at the first glance, the implementation had been challenging, though. “Usually, I digitally send my design files to Sri Lanka. There, the new prototype is built and ready for testing in every corner of the world within a week - except Canary Islands. On the Canaries there are specific rules for customs. Importing a sail takes 3-4 weeks. This is - of course - not practical.” Hence, there is only one possible way: manufacturing prototypes on-site on Tenerife.

However, Kai Hopf wouldn’t have been able to sew all prototypes himself. Four Race and Freeride lines were reviewed, optimized and tested during the two months: WARP 20.20, WARP.FOIL 20.20, S-PACE and E-PACE. The solution: a cooperation with our colleagues from Sri Lanka. Raoul Joa: “To Kai, it has always mattered to integrate staff from our sail production into the development process in order to transmit his understanding of quality and special manufacturing techniques. Now, this contact has been reinforced.”

The new project fell into place. Over three months, Kai Kopf was building a plotter which draws data files onto sail cloth precisely. The new gadget is extraordinary in every respect: the entire console can be folded and transported as hand luggage. The DUOTONE sail factory on Sri Lanka built two large custom sail sewing desks, organized sewing machines, tested this miniature production line, dismounted it completely, calculated the raw materials for the entire project and shipped everything to Tenerife.


Moreover, the factory in Sri Lanka embraced the idea of a custom sail loft so much, that they even sent four specialists, more than the initially scheduled two people. When does a production worker ever get the chance to work that close together with the chief designer? Of course this is a fantastic opportunity for us as well, to particularly reward our workers of many years. None of them has ever left Sri Lanka.

Duotone SailLoft Tenerife
Duotone SailLoft Tenerife
Duotone SriLankaworker BikeTenerife

In Sri Lanka it is quite common that long-term staff members enjoy a shuttle service to their workplace. So, the two Sri Lankan ladies Mrs. Mala and Mrs. Geetha were fetched every morning at their apartment by the chief sail designer Kai Hopf himself and chauffeured to the sail loft. Mr. Roshan and Mr. Prasad made their 5 minute way to the loft by bike, organised by Mr. Kai. - On Sri Lanka the usual way is to address with Mrs./Mr. and their first name to people.

Thus, at the beginning of January the whole bunch came together at El Medano. Kai and the four Sri Lanken specialists installed their new custom sail loft in an adapted garage of Harco-Jan Folkerts, the local partner of the Duotone Pro Center. Our test riders this year are: Chief test rider Marco Lang, interface between designer Kai Hopf and the other team riders. Pierre Mortefon, two-times PWA slalom vice world champion. His sister Marion Mortefon, 3rd place in the 2018 PWA slalom ranking. Jordy Vonk, best Dutchman in the PWA ranking (4th). Vincent Langer, European Champion 2018 and six-time German Champion.

Mrs. Mala, Mrs. Geetha, Mr. Roshan and Mr. Prasad manufactured over 40 prototypes during those two months. Kai Hopf: “Usually I travel to Sri Lanka once for a week to implement a new sail line. Here we have been operating six days a week over two months together. The exchange allowed us to simplify production stages and apply new quality indicators.” One example: So far, the sewing team in Sri Lanka has rolled the sail up after each step. This could have caused crinkles. From now on, they will pull the entire sail through the production line.

Chief test rider Marco Lang took priceless advantage of the new loft, too. “We could test sails in the morning, directly change details during midday and review the adaption one hour later in the same wind conditions.”

Likewise, the project brought precious insights for our Fantastic Four from the Far East. With lots of enthusiasm, they discussed design and development issues, analyzed other sail brands and studied the sails dynamics on the water during the races. They haven’t had the chance yet to see their sails working that close. Marco Lang: “They saw how passionate we all are about windsurfing. They now bring this fire to Sri Lanka.”

Duotone Windsurfing Testing Tenerife

„The set-up in El Medano was ideal for our testing. The Duotone Pro Center was equipped with the entire 2019 range. Thus, we could compare the new prototypes with the current series. Moreover the TWS centre offers all other common brands. We matched the 2020 Warp, E-Pace and S-Pace line with the competitors. We have seldom been able to test more detailed. The advance in the new 2020 DUOTONE sail range will be noticeable.”

Raoul Joa, Line- and Product Manager Duotone Windsurfing

Also, Raoul Joa is certain that the new R&D project is sustainable in the long run: “Technically, our colleagues from Sri Lanka never have been more integrated in the development of prototypes. And personally it was a great pleasure to see how all four absorbed new impressions.” Will there be additional similar projects in the future? Raoul: “Of course. The sail desks and sewing machines are stored on Tenerife. At the beginning of 2020, we will rebuild the sail loft not only for two but three months.” Once again four chosen staff members from the DUOTONE factory on Sri Lanka will work on-site. A different four specialists, surely well equipped with beanies and scarves.

Duotone SailLoft Worker Tenerife
Duotone Windsurfing Production
Duotone Develovment Tenerife