We put Duotone’s two classic surf shapes to the test
THIS TEST FIRST APPEARED IN ISSUE #98 IN MARCH 2019
TEST TEAM NOTES:
When Duotone marketing manager, Philipp Becker, handed over the Pro Session, he told us not to bother with it until the waves got massive. But we did anyway.
The Pro Session used to be the Kontact, which was a proper high performance, narrow, super-fast wave board. It had bags of grip but it was hard work in the wrong conditions and had a tendency to buck you off for poor technique and was hard to tack and gybe.
The Pro Session is more rounded with a bit more width, a slightly less aggressive outline and feels altogether smoother in the water. It still has a drawn in tail, is very effective holding a line through chop when powered and isn’t uncomfortably rigid.
Rail to rail, it’s more fluid than the Kontact used to be and is a little happier to release, but there’s still this undeniable urge to gauge a nice big turn on an open face as it can carry a ton of speed while carving. Actually, for strapped riding and burning fast turns with kite power, the Pro Session could be a good choice when narrower width and straighter rails become an advantage.
The Pro Session isn’t just a full-on gun for heavier surf, it has more of a wide remit than that, but the point is that it’s geared up for proper waves and you have less margin for error on it than you would on the Pro Whip or the Pro WAM. Why would you get a Lambourghini and just take it shopping? Sure, some people do it, but their parking skills need to be better in order to avoid pranging it on the trolley collection zone. Similarly on the Pro Session, your footwork needs to be a little faster, tacks need to be on point and you can’t really switch off and have a cruisy ride on it.
The Pro Session doesn’t have the real world ability of the Pro WAM. In smaller waves it was hard to drive the tail out and there was none of the looseness that the WAM has. It feels a bit of a waste taking the Pro Session out in shoddy, crumbling surf and shore break conditions rather than a heaving point break. Seeing Airton and Matchu opting for it when conditions got really serious on a fast moving wave like Ponta Preta, where you’re just trying not to get hauled off the wave and stay in the section, then it makes sense.
The WAM has a far more surfy feel and you can ride it through the front foot, pump through the slow sections and then break out the squash tail as you hit the lip. It’s very smooth rail-to-rail and grips well through the turn, but will release its edge if you want it to. Then it just snaps back into forward motion and you’re back hunting down-the-line again. You can ride it almost without thinking.
For a surfboard, the WAM is really comfy in chop, and both Matt (90 kilos) and Jim (70) were both equally happy on the 5’8”. The width of 18” isn’t particularly wide, but the WAM planes really well. The magic combination is that the natural depth that the board sits in the water feels quite deep, so you also have lots of grip control and lighter riders can influence it really well. There’s also plenty of base to show to the wind when doing strapless airs and it still carries speed really well out of heavy landings or through the turn.
Also, although it’s only ¾ of an inch wider than the Pro Session, it does feel a lot more stable and if you’re still fumbling with your tacks and gybes then the WAM is going to be a lot more comfortable. It’s also easier to get upwind on and performed better in lighter winds.
Duotone’s Light Team construction with cork shock absorber 2.0 and responsive flex really do make for very silky-smooth feeling boards that are resistant to heel dings. The Duotone Team Traction Pad is also on another level of grip. You’re done with wax…
The Pro WAM is one of the most reliable wave work horses for most improving wave riders and above in all wave conditions, from crumbly to clean and classic. The Session is a tool of the jacked-up, heaving wave trade.
PRO WAM PROs and CONS
KW LIKED: A super-versatile board that’s easy to tune into and will deliver as much performance as most of us could need in a very broad range of conditions.
KW WOULD CHANGE: Erm… they’ll think of something.
PRO WAM SIZES: 6’0” x 18 9/16”, 5’10” x 18 5/16”, 5’8” x 18” and 5’6” x 17 5/8”
PRO SESSION PROS AND CONS
Fluid turns from rail-to-rail and unshakeable grip at speed / when powered.
KW WOULD CHANGE
Cheaper flights to One Eye?
PRO SESSION SIZES: 5’11” x 18 1/8” and 5’8” x 17 3/4”