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There must be at least 6 companies who claim to be #1 SUP in the UK. But have you ever seen any evidence to justify it? Red Paddle claim to be the biggest selling SUP brand in the UK, and that is probably true. But the other companies who claim to be the best, the most rigid, the best value. Is there any truth in their claims?
Well, most of them don’t provide any evidence or information to back up their claims so we have no way of verifying them.
But one thing we can do is look back at the SUPhubUK survey that was undertaken in 2018. That survey was completed by over 1200 paddlers and 200 SUP instructors. So whilst we can’t guarantee it is fully representative, it is one of the (if not the) biggest surveys of SUP paddlers that’s publicly available. So it’s not a bad place to start.
That survey tells us something a little different to what you might believe if you only read facebook sponsored posts, or ambassador placed posts!
The graph below shows the results of any brand that scored more than 3. However, because of the risk of bias with smaller datasets, the list only shows averages of brand with more than 10 responses
Which brand makes the boards that last the longest?
Now, we have to be a little bit honest, we were surprised to be #1 in every category!
Giving gifts, when you get it right, is a joy (especially SUP and stand up paddle board related presents). When you’ve bought something that makes you happy as well as making the recipient happy, you know you’ve nailed it. But if you’re anything like McConks, you probably find it a bit of a struggle every year to square the circle of buying interesting and meaningful presents and remaining sustainable and ethical.
After the madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you might be a little sick of false bargains and gimmicky marketing tricks – we definitely are! So these are our tips for buying gifts that paddleboarders will love, without buying yourself a guilty conscience.
Study after study, along with personal experience, have shown that the best types of Christmas present are experiences rather than things: you remember and talk about experiences for years, but material things lose their value quickly as the next best thing becomes available. And if you don’t buy an experience (maybe you’re worried about that useless loved one forgetting about the voucher, and it expiring – been there, done that!), the next best thing you can do is to buy thing that helps them get out there and make their own experiences!
Lots of our brand partners and friends are schools, guides and instructors who offer amazing experiences year round. But on the basis that you might not want to buy a gift to be used in the cold winter months, nearly all of them all also let you buy gift cards. Check out the list of providers who gift cards for experiences below.
SUP4 – SUP lessons and tuition.
GoExperience – Croatian adventure SUP and experiences.
smoc smoc – eco, waterproof dry robes.
Check out our long read on the 5 psychological reasons why experiences are the best gifts. If you’re not convinced, this article will convince you!
Buying from a small company sometimes takes a bit more effort, or planning, than buying from amazon, or ebay for example. But it is so much more rewarding. Often, the personal customer service you get is way better than anything offered by a nameless, faceless multi-national. And the products are often much better as well.
At McConks we pride ourselves on being as sustainable and ethical as we can be – whether that be low impact manufacture, or organic and fairwear clothing. And that’s why you can buy with confidence from us, guilt free. If you’re interested, you can find out more about our ethical principles here, or you can read about what we do to give something back through our Go Inspire initiative here.
Floating handmade shades for SUPers
Made from organic cotton and recycled ocean waste, and printed with eco dyes, these are as sustainable as they get – and come with plastic free packaging.
Ethical clothing for paddleboarders
Made from organic cotton and recycled ocean waste, and printed with eco dyes, these are as sustainable as they get – and come with plastic free packaging.
All about the fins
Made from organic cotton and recycled ocean waste, and printed with eco dyes, these are as sustainable as they get – and come with plastic free packaging.
For the adventure paddler the following would work extremely as Christmas stocking fillers.
Are you ready for SUP adventure?
Ready to head our for a long day or overnight trip and want to use sustainable, minimal kit for eating and drinking? Kelly Kettle have been the world leader in wood burning kettles and fires for decades. If you want the four S’s – sustainability, simplicity, speed and stowability, this is the only answer!
Perfect stocking filler for the paddleboarder who has everything!
Fill your bottle up from the river, and drink it. Simple as that.
The filter has been tested to perform as well as day 1 at the end of it’s life (1000l). And then replace the filter for less than £30. That’s just 30p per litre. A lot cheaper and more sustainable than plastic water bottles.
Why stick your face into the river to take a drink? This handpump allows you to pump river water into clean water. So you can pump straight into your water bottle, or your Kelly Kettle/saucepan.
Lifecycle of 1000 litres, and then you can just replace the filter. Safe AND sustainable
If you’re still having a head scratching time finding the right Christmas gift then why not the McConks elves do the work for you? Get in touch to find out how we can help.
Are you looking forward to Black Friday, in anticipation of the massive savings you’re going to make buying new gear? Hoping to get the last of 2017 kit at 30% off? Maybe even 50% off? Thinking of buying a £100 box of kit for £60?
Before you do, make sure you read these 7 techniques that all of the big brands and retailers use to influence how you buy.
This is also known as reciprocity and the concept is simple – if someone does something for you, you naturally will want to do something for them. So this might be a free lesson, a free pizza and prosecco evening, or a free pump and digital camera. According to the theory, if you’ve ever gotten a mint with your bill at a restaurant, you’ve been the victim of reciprocity. The strength of reciprocity has been tested in numerous experiments, and where the restaurant only met the norm – providing one mint – the tip jumps 3.3%. When the exceed expectations by providing two expense mints per customer, the tip jumps by 20%.
So when you see a freebie – don’t get overexcited. It’s probably not free but actually loaded into the price point, and it’s only there to make you buy. And often the freebie, in the world of watersports is a really low value of poor quality item, and the cost has already been included in the sale price anyway!
Have you ever played the game where one person says a word, and the other immediately responds with the first thing that comes to mind? That’s kind of how priming works. You’re exposed to one stimulus, and it affects how you respond to another stimulus.
So how does this work in watersports sales?
Notice when you go to an expensive brands website, price isn’t the first thing you see? You might see a stunningly well presented video that shows lots of young, happy paddlers having the time of their lives. Or it might show a stunning carousel of the kit being used in high octane adventurous activities. These things are designed to prime you to something other than the high price point of the expensive luxury goods.
And at the other end, the really cheap budget brands what’s the first thing you see? The price in big red lettering, normally with some sort of discount already built in. So you’re primed to the higher price which makes the discounted price even better. And surely everyone now knows that you never purchase the item on day 1. The trick that every savvy buyer knows now is to register, login, put the desired item in your basket, and then go away again. Invariably with budget brands you will get an email overnight asking why you’ve left the item in your basked and offering you a further discount. And this price then seems even more attractive because you had been primed to a higher price. Just make sure you unsubscribe quickly after the purchase otherwise you will not doubt be spammed every day with their best offers once you’ve succumbed to one marketing trick!
So watch out for these subtle priming techniques. You might not even know it, but the shop or search engine might already have details on your purchasing habits and spending power, your age and location, and be serving up a primed advert or website that is specifically tailored to you.
I’m sure that everyone is aware of the power of social media marketing these days. But brands rely heavily on the power of ‘social proof’. That is the theory that people will adopt the believes and actions of others. You’ve probably noticed this if you’ve holidayed in a location with lots of restaurants / tavernas. One night, ‘restaurant A’ might be really busy and ‘restaurant B’ is totally dead. Despite you knowing full well that the food on offer is equally good, and the menu and prices similar. And yet later in the week, ‘restaurant B’ is full to the which restaurant got the first customers that night. Once a restaurant has customers, then it is more likely to attract customers. And have you noticed that you no longer get offered window seats in restaurants, and you used to be offered them regularly? These are prime marketing material for restaurants, and they try to fill them with hip and attractive 20 something couples.
In the watersports branding world, shares, likes, reposts are all important demonstrations of social proof. So make sure you’re really only giving your social proofing to brands that you’re actually to recommend to your friends!
Oh, and if you do like a brand page and / or share their content just to enter their competition (and who hasn’t), but you’d rather not give that brand your props in the future, you can always go back after the comp to unlike the page or post!
This is the art of generating artificial price points to make the most expensive (or the highest margin to the retailer) seem most attractive. The example below shows how this works.
The lesson here is that those savings aren’t ‘real’, and if you ever did want to buy a board only package, you might that if you talk to the retailer, as the decoy price of £750 is a starting point for a negotiation!
There are some boards being sold for 40% off in 2019 Black Friday deals that have never been sold at the alleged higher price. There are some direct sale brands that have had sale prices on the same boards for over 12 months now!
Ever gone back to a product that you looked at yesterday, and which now suddenly says ‘Only 3 left at this price’?
Did you know that some only stores can record your visits and change the message they give you to generate the of scarcity? Admittedly, that’s a whole level of coding and design that most watersports sellers do not stoop to, but it is theoretically possible. But many do employ the scarcity tactic generally “make sure you buy now because this discounted price will only last for the three we have in stock”. And the aim is to make you buy there and then. Beafore you find out that there are better deals out there elsewhere, or alternatively, before they discount the price even more in the week before Christmas because they really need to shift that stock!
Ever wondered why it’s so hard to resist a sale at your favourite SUP retailer?
Often, it has to do with anchoring – people base decisions on the first piece of information they receive. So if your favourite store typically retails this year’s boards for £900, but you find them on sale on Black Friday or at the end of the season for £650, you’ll be over the moon. And using the power of social proof, you will also tell of your friends what a great deal you got. But if your friend has already got as good a board for £600, they won’t be nearly as impressed. That original price has two purposes. Firstly taking money from the early adopters and fashionistas who just can’t wait for the right price, and just have to have the new kit (even if it’s no different to what they already ride). And secondly, it’s a decoy – to act as an anchor to make the discount price seem so attractive.
And going back to a point made earlier, this is why retailers will state the initial price of the product (this is “setting” the anchor), and then display the sale price right next to it, even with a % reduction just to make it totally option.
Some brands contract their retailers to only sell at the RRP until a certain date in the year, at which point they can sell at a discounted price. This is all to do with ‘anchoring’ that price point, and getting that price point widely understood, and making sure that the ‘price means quality’ principle is firmly established.
Ever first noticed a new brand, and then start seeing it everywhere you look? You can thank the The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. It starts happening after you encounter something for the first time, and then you start noticing it cropping up in everyday life. Suddenly you see friends using the kit that you hadn’t spotted before, and then it appears all over your facebook feed, and in your google search products, and on insta.
It’s weird right?
This phenomenon (also called “the frequency illusion”) is caused by two processes. The first, selective attention, kicks in when you first notice something. You subconsciously look for it in the future, and as a result find it surprisingly often. Secondly, confirmation bias reassures you that each sighting is further proof of your impression that the thing has gained overnight omnipresence.
And this effect is really important to brands. Many adopt something called retargeting, which involves their ads being served up to you tie and time again if you have clicked on their website. And if you have liked something on facebook or insta for example, the algorithms will make sure you see more of the content from that brand in the future. The conbination of this effect, plus targeted emails from those brands you signed up to, reconfirms the bias in your mind that they must be reliable companies if they are so ubiquitous!
According to a study by Poppenk, Joanisse, Danckert, and Köhler, people are more likely to remember the gist of what someone said, not the specific details. And in these days of information overload, this is especially true. Brand marketers know this and structure their content in such a way that allows future recall of headlines or throwaway items.
So the content that gets shared the most on social media is short, snappy, and has a snappy headline. Unlike this article. Long reads are definitely out of fashion.
So content these days is designed to search and sharing friendly, and headlines will describe what’s in the article by using a snappy or catchy phrase. This way, when people are looking for more information on a given topic, they’ll think of that one helpful article they read a while ago and Google the topic to find it again.
Hopefully now you’ll be a little bit better equipped to withstand the many ways that retailers try to extract your money from you over the next 4 weeks.
If you want the very best bargains this year then check out our 2020 preorder or Grade A ex demo 2019 boards. There’s a reason why so many instructors and outdoor professionals from the MOD to the Princes Trust use McConks kit – reliability, robustness and price!
Do you get the most pleasure from having what you want, when you want it? Do you get a thrill from being a little impulsive with your money? Or do you get the biggest emotional pick me up from planning wisely, choosing, and then looking forward to something in the future?
These two types of pleasure are described as instant gratification and deferred gratification respectively. Scientific studies of emotion and hormones have concluded that waiting, anticipating, and looking forward longingly to a special treat is what gives most people the greatest pleasure. But we also know that, in general, people are really poor at choosing deferred gratification over instant pleasure. Ask a kid whether they want one sweet today, or two sweets tomorrow, and they’re pretty certain to choose one sweet today (1). As we get older we typically get a little better at choosing to wait, but but we’re still not (in general!) very good at waiting for the pleasure.
So ask most people if they would rather a used, second hand 2019 paddleboard without a warranty right now, for the same price as a brand new one with a three year warranty in January 2020, and most people will choose the instant gratification. And it goes without saying this is the wrong choice for most people, most of the time.
If you’re smarter than most people, and fully buy into the idea of deferred gratification, and can wait until January 2020 or April 2020 for 30% off brand new SUP packages (2), then McConks are for you. If you’re a SUP school or instructor wanting to take advantage of our preorder deals, register here. If you’re not a business, check out our preorder deals here.
If, however, you need instant gratification, are worried about sustainability, and don’t want to buy new, and are looking for an instant deal check out our ex demo/graded products here (3) – which still come with a warranty and first class return to manufacturer customer service from McConks.
And if you want to know why we’re offering these discounts, check out the slides below. (and if they don’t work, you can view them here)
(1) So established is this as an economic and scientific principle, that it’s built into pretty much every economic model, future benefits being discounted to account for this perceived lower value in the future
(2) 50% non-refundable posit needed when order is placed by 15 December 2019, remaining 50% payment before delivery. And you can get 4 months interest free credit with PayPal
(3) only available while stocks last
compared to our biggest competitors in the same (or worse) quality bracket like Red Paddle Co, Naish and Starboard
Compared to our standard retail prices
If you’re a SUP school or a paddleboard business, or an outdoor ed provider, please register as a trade customer to get access to our trade pre-order prices.
ps. As a trade customer you get so much more than just great value kit designed to last for years. We also help with social media and blog marketing to help your business soar!
Do you ever think about how you’d recover some who had had a heart attack? Or someone who has fallen critically unwell? Or someone who’s just blood knackered after a hard paddle and who can’t make it back safe?
If you paddle as part of an accredited SUP or paddleboard club, then you’ll almost certainly know all this already, so sorry for wasting your time. If you don’t, ask your club why not! But for everyone else who’s learning as they go along, these videos are a great safety aid. You just need to go out an practice them now.
It’s 2019. We’re meant to live in a modern, liberal, progressive society. But peer pressure, shame and guilt often still play too big a part in this world. People are still held back from achieving what they feel they’ve been born to achieve.
Sometimes it’s the individual themselves. Sometimes it’s their family. Sometimes it’s their community. But all too often we hear this very sad story.
Even if they’re from a society where difference is tolerated, they may grow up feeling incredibly ashamed and scared of their feeling, and therefore hide them from a young age. We’ve heard people say that they’re terrified that their friends will view them differently and this will turn their world upside down; there is also often the fear that once you’ve opened up and told them, they’ll start to doubt your motives.
Watch this touching movie to find out more.
These people don’t mean to hurt you. They’re just stuck in their ways. But you can outgrow them, you can outshine them. You can fly their world and on to better things.
It’s extremely easy to let your angst at hiding your true feelings turn into anger or jealousy. You might see paddleboarders having fun all around you, and feel resentful that they can be open, and free and happy.
These negative thoughts are not unexpected, since you’ve strengthened those particular brain pathways through years of hating yourself for cheating on canoeing. They say ‘neurons that fire together wire together’, meaning that anything you do/think repeatedly becomes a learned behavior.
We’re so pleased to have helped Steve Smith of Causeway Coast Kayak Association along the road to happiness and freedom. It may have taken a whole six years from the video being made to finally have the courage to make the change. But finally, a 10’6 Go Anywhere, a 11’4 Go Explore and a 12’8 Go Explore give Steve everything he needs to satisfy all his demands. What’s more, they form the perfect range of paddleboards to drag his canoe and kayak friends at CCKA kicking and screaming into the modern world. Suitable for kids to play and roam, for adults to develop and practise skills, and also for those who want to adventure and explore.
You too can be as free as Steve! Don’t let your canoe/kayak friends, family or club hold you back!
This whole article is of course firmly tongue in cheek. The canoe and kayak fraternity have been extremely good to us at McConks, and have been some of our best partners and customers from the word go. We’re pleased to have many friends across the paddlesports sector, including some who, for some unknown reason, have still never yet ventured on a SUP. But they’re few and far between these days 🙂
We’re pleased to be able to offer club discounts on to clubs affiliated to British Canoeing. We can also offer some spectacular discounts to clubs willing to preorder fleets of SUPs in 2019 for delivery in 2020. Email us for more details
When Surfers Against Sewage contacted us earlier this year to be one of the star prizes in the raffle, we thought about it for all of two or three seconds before saying ‘hell yes, please’.
It is incredibly humbling to be given the opportunity to support such an important cause, and even more flattering to be the only SUP brand to be given the chance to do so. For such an important national charity to select little old McConks, made us feel like we were really punching above our weight! And when we found out what other prizes were in the raffle, we realised we were in very esteemed company. Many larger brands would give their right arm for an opportunity like this, but having spoken a lot with the lovely people at SAS over the last few months, it’s clear that our principles and ethics align, and it makes us really happy to know we were chosen because of this. Principles matter, and it’s awesome to see that these principles aren’t overshadowed by the slightly dirty necessity of fundraising.
As the leading water environmental charity working on behalf of recreational water users, Surfers Against Sewage run deep in the veins of Andy and Jenny. Andy first worked on a joint press release between Friends of the Earth Cymru and Surfers Against Sewage back in 1998 (1), and both have been regular members and avid consumers of SAS hoodies and t-shirts over the years. So we just had to snap up the chance to help SAS deliver their purpose to ‘inspire, unite and empower communities to protect oceans, beaches, waves and wildlife’.
The only downside of being asked to donate, is that we can’t buy tickets. So of course we don’t need to win one of our own boards, but have you seen the other prizes? We’re rather gutted. We’d love the chance to build our own wood surfboard with Arbo, or have a to night off grid eco adventure with Kents of Cornwall! So we’re just a little gutted!
To find out more about the amazing companies who’ve donated prizes, click the pictures below!
But, most importantly, if you want to win one of these awesome prizes, you need to be in it to win it. And of course, winning is the reason you enter, but even if you don’t, at least you get a that farm fuzzy feeling of knowing you’ve done your bit to improve the water environment by supporting SAS!
An 11’4 Go Explore iSUP, with ankle leash, our acclaimed SUP sac with chunky wheels and stowable back pack, triple action double chamber HP6 pump, and carbon fibre V83 high aspect paddle. And the confidence of knowing you’re paddling an iSUP from an ethical and sustainable family brand, that puts ethics and quality ahead of profit.
And if you don’t fancy your chances of winning and just need to get your hands on one of these boards, you can so here
This doesn’t mean we’ve removed plastic – plastic is not the enemy, and in fact plastic always has been, and always will be, one of the best packaging materials for certain products. However, we have removed 100% all unnecessary plastic packaging (which was almost of all of it!), and most of our products will be packaged only in cardboard, paper, or vegetable based compostable plastic alternatives.
We don’t update our products every single year, with exactly the same technology rebranded as something new, or with slightly different colours. We leave that to almost every other SUP Brand whose debt levels require them to sell more and more every year. We just make great products with the best technology and make them to last for years. In fact, we’re so confident of our product quality, that we gaurantee them for 3 years and offer a 28 day no quibble return policy. In 2020, we are increasing that guarantee to 5 years!
It’s rather unfashionable in the world of sound bites and positive branding to define yourself by what you don’t do. But we’ve never followed the crowd. And we think what we don’t do is just as important as what we do.
What we don’t do is buy cheap t-shirts, baseball caps or car stickers in bulk from the cheapest factories in China just to give away and act as low cost advertising. We don’t make products just for the sake of making products and using our customers as free advertising. And when we do launch a new product line, we have considered the materials and the environmental impact of that product from the word go. So for example, our t-shirts, hoodies and rash vests are made of recycled plastic bottles and fishing nets, and salvaged fairtrade organic cotton waste from the textiles industry. Our floating shades are made of sustainable bamboo, and we really hope that our new changing robes will be too. And wherever possible our hardware products are made of sustainable materials; our standard fins are made of recycled plastic bottles as are our SUP bags. And our awesome dry bags are made from offcuts of PVC from the manufacture of inflatable SUP boards.
For a while, there’s been a settled view amongst experienced paddlers that the 12v pump in grey is the most reliable and fastest pump out there in the £75 – £150 bracket. Admittedly, it has its detractors, with some people having melted pistons and had switch and valve failures. But on balance it seemed to be the most reliable out of a bad bunch.
But then came along a new challenger. It had more striking livery, it had a digital display, and there were claims it was faster, quieter, and would make you paddle faster than Michael Booth. But we’d heard it all before. Every new pump on the market claimed to be better, and they rarely were.
This time however, things were different it seemed. A number of reviews from reasonably reliable sources seemed to confirm they were indeed faster and quieter. And we haven’t heard many negative things about them on the grapevine.
So we’ve got our hands on a few to test. And with an absence of objective side by side tests out there, we put them up against one another in a head to head race to 20PSI.
The hose on the older pump looks less fragile than the new hose. The new hose seems a little more brittle, and probably won’t survive your van parking on it (as the old pump hose has done twice now). The fittings on both pumps are sturdy and solid.
Both units appear well made from the outside – well finished.
The new pump is slightly ligther than the old one.
The young upstart was definitely the quieter of the pumps when the first stage (high volume) compressor kicks in. Although we didn’t have a noise monitor, the difference was quite obvious. It has just an annoying whiney pitch sadly.
The second stage compressor (the loud one) kicked in about 30 seconds earlier on the new pump.
The second stage pump on both units were about the same noisiness. The new pump might have been very slightly quieter, but it was just as intrusive in a quiet neighbourhood. The use of either pump before dawn or after dusk is likely to draw the ire of neighbours.
They inflated at approximately the same rate. The new pump reached 7psi noticeably quicker, but then the old pump started to catch up. Although doing a direct comparison during inflation is difficult because the gauge needle bounces around so much on the old pump.
Well, we don’t actually know. It was very, very close. To the extent that we don’t actually know which one finished first; they finished within two seconds of each other with a time of 11 minutes 30 (ish) seconds!
So in conclusion, there is very little to separate these pumps in terms of performance. And only time will tell if the new young upstart is more or less reliable than the old one!
A shaft that’s too stiff for your biomechanics is very likely to cause shoulder injury, especially if combined with a less than perfect paddle stroke. At the elite end of the game, the shaft stiffness, flex and blade angle is fine tuned to the individual elite paddler so they get the maximum power from the paddle through the power phase of the stroke, and so that the potential energy stored in the flex of the shaft is released at the end of the power phase as the paddler reduces power. Obviously, we can’t all have paddles designed to our individual biomechanics, but we shouldn’t be deceived into thinking that stiffer is better!
Not always true sadly. Whether paddle floats or not depends on a number of things
How air tight the paddle shaft is. A one piece piece paddle should be fully airtight, and that should mean that the entrapped air provide enough buoyancy for the paddle to float, irrespective of what it’s made of. A two or three piece paddle is more likely to let water in at the connections, and as the air is replaced by water, what the paddle is made of becomes more important. At the top of of paddle quality, a 100% carbon paddle with air or foam core blade will probably float, even if it’s two or three piece. At the bottom of the performance spectrum, an alloy shaft paddle with a plastic blade is almost certainly going to sink fairly rapidly. In the middle of the range, lower percentage carbon or fibreglass shafts with plastic blades are likely to float for a period until they become waterlogged, and that floating period is likely to get shorter over time as the connections deteriorate and take on water.
A bigger blade with the same attack angle, same dihedral, same shaft, paddled at the same cadence might generate more speed than a smaller blade, but that also massively depends on the paddler’s ability to maintain a good stroke rate and paddle form, which is difficult if the blade is oversized. The trend in racing is for smaller blades, and we think this is a good thing; we know lots of beginner paddlers who have developed shoulder injuries because of poorly sized blades. and we know lots of larger, very experienced paddlers who have decided smaller blades is right for them. And we’re not going to disagree!
Low quality carbon is used as marketing by lots of brands. Some brands are even bundling low quality, very low percentage carbon shaft, plastic blade paddles with their packages and calling them carbon paddles. A 10% carbon shaft on a cheap bendy plastic blade is definitely not a good paddle even if it contains the magic word. Even at the higher % carbon, some carbon tubes are better quality than others.
And as the saying goes, if it looks to good to be true, it probably is. So just because you can buy a ‘carbon’ paddle for under £100, it doesn’t mean that you should!
SUP paddle blades are far too big to have on both ends of a double bladed paddle. And any SUP brand that is happy to risk significant customer rotator cuff injury just so they can sell a few more boards, deserves the ire of paddlers. If you’re seriously interested in sitting down paddling, you need to ensure that you buy a board or boat with a knee or foot brace (paddling sat flat without something to brace against is agony for most people), and then but a cheap kayak paddle alongside your SUP paddle. That gives you some redundancy in case of your SUP paddle breaking, and the cheap kayak paddle will have the right sized blades, and not threaten your shoulder.
But we think the whole kayak conversion thing is a marketing gimmick anyway. How many people do you ever see using their SUP as a kayak? We regularly recommend customers not to buy the UP Seat to use with our 12’8 Go Explore board. We’re 99% sure that those customers who haven’t heeded our advice, have never used the SUP seat… but please prove us wrong!
What’s your favourite fallacy about paddles? Tell us in the comments below!
The Cotswold Water Park is an area of 40 square miles, with more than 150 lakes, set across the countryside of Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and West Oxfordshire. It’s one of Europe’s largest lake systems, and is a haven for wildlife and watersports.
Therefore any sane person might think it would be easy to find somewhere to paddleboard in the lake system.
It’s not quite that simple though.
All of the lakes are in private ownership, therefore knowing where you can paddle isn’t straightforward (1).
So where can you paddle?
This is a stunning lake (Lake 86) next to the Cotswold Water Park Visitor Centre, Cotswold Outdoors and just off the dual carriageway the A419. You have two options for SUP at this lake . Firstly you can hire a SUP by the hour (they use some awful SUPs from a company called McConks here, but you can still have lots of fun despite this ;-). Alternatively, you can get annual membership and launch your own SUP here (2). The lake also has a very popular swim lane for open water swimming and you can also hire rowing boats, canoes and kayaks. All in all, a lovely, friendly, laid back location for a paddle. CWPhire is open daily through the summer through to 5pm,and open until 19:00pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can also try out SUP yoga (often fully booked, but if not, walk in sessions available) on a Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
Make a day of it by bringing a BBQ or picnic, or by popping to the nearby cafes and pubs for a bite of lunch!
You can also book private tuition from qualified SUP instructor and yoga teacher Kathy Marston
Waterland is next to the Cotswold Water Park Beach and Country Park at lake 32. You can pay to hire and to launch your own kit, and you can also be a member of the Thameswey Canoe club (with over 200 members!) With a cafe and showers, Waterland is a friendly place to spend a few hours. Like all quality SUP rental, the gear is top quality, with only Red Paddle Co or McConks SUP gear being used.
SCO used to be a Gloucesterhire County Council (GCC) run outdoor ed facility, and even though it has changed hands a few times since GCC sold it, the ethos is much the same – aimed at providing water activity training and qualifications for school aged kids. Although, since being in private hands, the provision for kids of all ages (adults) has increased.
The only time you can really SUP here as an individual is when they run their Wednesday SUP club nights through the longer evenings.
SCO use Red Paddle SUP for all their lessons and sessions.
There are two lakes at Cotswold water park and beach. You will pay for parking/entry at £20 for an MPV or £16 a car, and then pay £10 for every 30 minutes of paddleboard hire. The SUP boards used are Fanatic Air, and you’re only allowed to paddle on the Northern of the two lakes, sharing the lake with the WiBit aquaventure inflatable park.
Find out more details about opening times and directions from this map
(1) the positive news is that many of the lakes are managed by a Charity, the Cotswold Water Park Trust, on behalf of the public, who have a responsibility to to provide for the benefit of the public, and in particular for the inhabitants of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, facilities in the interests of social welfare for education, conservation, recreation and leisure time occupation at the Cotswold Water Park (“the Park”) and one of their specific named responsibilities is to ‘assist in achieving the provision of appropriate public access for all to sites and facilities in the Park for recreation purposes’. Despite this, there are only a small number of lakes that actually participate in watersport, and the vast majority of these are for private members only.
There are also a very large number of lakes that have been sold or leased to property management companies looking to make a large profit from holiday homes and second homes.
If you’re after a potted history of the dubious politics of the Cotswold Water Park, a dip into the Archives of Rotten Burroughs in Private Eye is a very interesting read. Put simply, Cotswold District Council and Watermark Ltd (a private developer) haven’t exactly showered themselves with glory, and Gloucs County Council and the Trust also could arguably have done better to protect the public interest. But we’re in different times now, and hopefully the brown paper bags and dodgy handshakes (allegedly) are all in the past.
(2) CWPhire used to allow day launches for a small fee, but as always, a small group of idiots who couldn’t follow instructions, spoiled it for everyone else. And whilst the rules might not seem important to everyone, if they aren’t followed, the business’s insurance might not pay out in the event of a public liability claim. And whilst they have excellent safety cover, and are experts in water safety (sister company Rapid Skills is based at the same location), an idiot, not following rules, can bankrupt the best of operators is there’s an accident!
Testing out the Ruffwear PFD
Rainy days call for hats.
Some pics from my Bruce adventures , sea sup , river fun , doggie sup ,
Love and freedom
Family fun on The Ouse in St Ives
We have chosen a McConks fleet for our business for a number of reasons, not just because we wanted to support a family business!
First of all, the service that Andy and the team provide is brilliant, we found them to be friendly, professional and officiant.
Secondly, after meeting Andy we knew the support he would give us and our business in way of social media and business and industry advice is something the larger companies couldn’t compete with.
When it comes to the boards! We can’t fault them, they look great, easy to use and stable. We have also found them to be very durable! Which is very important in the areas we hold our sessions.
We have 2: Go Anywhere 10”6, 2: Go Anywhere 10”8, 2: Explore 11”4 and 1 Go X Wild white water board which is a prototype that Will our instructor has been involved in the designing and testing. We are also looking to purchase some longer touring boards off McConks as we want to offer some touring expeditions around Skye in the future.
What we have learnt since purchasing our fleet is that McConks is forever improving and moving with trends and the industry. We really like the fact he asks our opinion and that of others in the industry when designing new boards.
We would highly recommend McConks to anyone looking for a white water board, a touring board or a fleet of boards, you won’t be disappointed by Andy and his boards!
Shadow’s first paddle
McConks lenses are HD polarised which makes them different from standard, cheap sunglass lenses. They have a special film fused between the multiple layers of the lens, which only allows vertical light to pass through them. This film eliminates the glare caused by horizontal light reflected off snow and water.
Our lenses are made from Triacetate Cellulose (TAC). TAC is a common lens material used on medium to high end shades, where accurate polarity, impact resistance and clarity are important. Our TAC lenses are made up from multi-layered lens technology formulated to provide complete and thorough elimination of glare, polarised light and harmful UV rays. They provide 100% protection against UVA, UVB & UVC rays up to 400 nanometres, and go beyond the already high standards set by national standards set by the UK, EU, America (ANSI) and Australia and New Zealand. So rest assured, wherever you go in the world, and no matter what the UV conditions, our lenses go beyond the necessary.
TAC lenses are made up of 7 layers. First is the polarising film which forms the central material around which the lens is formed. The second and third layers fuse the polarising film to the outer UV absorbance layers. An additional shock and scratch proof layer is then fused to either side. Glare is further reduced by applying a mirrored reflective layer to the outer face of the lens, and an anti reflection layer applied to the inner face. By building the lens sequentially, with each layer having a very distinct function, ensures that every pair of lenses has identical performance with balanced polarity and standardised UV protection.
The multiple layer build up also provides excellent impact resistance.
Just like HD resin or HD polycarbonate lenses, TAC lenses are only as good as the manufacturer. Injection moulded resin can be warped by a cheap manufacturer, and TAC lenses can suffer from HD clarity if produced with poor quality control. Ultimately, a poor manufacturer produces poor lense with poor clarity and poor polarisation. That’s why we only use the very best!
Glasses designed for watersports use should have two additional requirements to normal sports shades:
We’re so confident that this is the best lens technology at this price, that we offer a 28 day money back guarantee if you can find a pair of similar shades at a similar price that have better clarity or polarity!
High definition, superb clarity, best in class polarisation, and light enough to float. What’s not to like? Especially when you couple the lenses with hand crafted wooden frames.
We couldn’t agree more. Life is definitely better wetter! And have you ever seen the sea at Sennen Cove looking so clear? We’re not sure we have.
Charlie Gilman, who took this footage, is a competitive windsurfer and all round waterman, so knows his way around a board or two! When he’s recovered from a bust shoulder (Porthleven takes no prisoners when it’s on!), he’s going to be paddling all the way around Cornwall to raise money for the mental health charity #Mind.
We’ll be posting updates of his recovery and training, but you can follow Charlie directly on Instagram @lifesbetterwetter or by following the hashtag #lifesbetterwetter.
This video was taken By Charlie Gilman on his McConks Go Free crossover wind/surf/whitewater SUP. This Freeride board is available with or without foostraps.
At McConks, we used to (rather arrogantly) think that we knew the answer to this question, and we used to tell people that an all-round paddleboard shape was the best of no worlds, and that most new paddlers would be better off with a touring shape pointy nose board. We based this on our own experience, and the experience of the relatively small groups of people that we paddled with. But we forgot there is a whole wide world of other paddlers out there, paddling in different environments and doing different kinds of paddling. And lots of instructors with decades of experience of teaching paddlesports.
Now that we’ve grown up as a company, we have a shed load more instructor friends with decades of experience. They’ve been offering accredited lessons and introductory sessions all around the UK and Europe, and for many, many years. And these are full time professional instructors as well – with PhDs in paddlesports instruction and sports psychology degrees, rather than recent converts to SUP. And they have had a quiet word with us to tell us that we’re wrong, and quite frankly, arrogant. It took a while to believe them. But when enough people tell you the same thing, you eventually start to listen.
Like we say, it took a while to believe them. After all, they’ve only got decades of experience and qualifications between them, so why would we trust them? To delve a little deeper, we asked why they preferred this particular shape of board for SUP beginners. They didn’t all have the same answers, with some thinking that certain features were more important for paddleboard beginners than others. But they did all agree on one thing – our All round Go Anywhere boards are the best paddle boards for beginners to learn on. And here’s what they said!”
Many column inches have been written elsewhere about why a kids size SUP is essential for young riders.
We agree that there are many reasons why a SUP that’s biomechanically designed to fit a kids frame can be important if you want your kids to be the next Junior SUP world champ, for most of us it isn’t that essential.
Now this might sound surprising from a brand that sells a kids sized inflatable paddleboard. But we know how hard it is to afford one paddleboard, let alone a whole paddle fleet. And we think it’s more important to get them on the water at all. And if that means using an old second hand adults board, or sharing boards around the family, then so be it!
But you can make a much lower cost purchase that would have a significant and immediate impact on your and your kids fun and development – a kids paddle.
For us, the most important benefit is that you as adults are much less likely to get walloped by an overlong, overheavy paddle! That, if we’re totally honest, is the real reason we started selling kids paddles. Our lads were a total liability with adults paddles, and we were at serious risk of losing a body part.
But, the more obvious benefits, about having a blade size, attack angle, paddle weight, grip and length that is designed for kids, is why you should be considering a kids paddle.
The blades on our
These paddles have been sized to suit average height kids between the ages of about 4 and 13 (1m and 1.5m tall). This is obviously quite a large
If you really do want to splash out a super light paddle for kids, then our adults V81 race paddle can actually be used as a
So if you can’t afford a kids iSUP (or just simply don’t think one is necessary), but want to improve your kids fun and development quotient, you now know what to do!
It’s often difficult to tell whether a review is a real review, or whether it’s been paid for, or ghost written.
In fact, some recent research suggests that many of the reviews on Amazon are fake, or bought. And even when they are real, they are left soon after purchase, and sometimes before the product has even been used, so that they give little indication of quality or longevity.
The consumer group Which? said its surveys showed 97% of its members used reviews when buying a product, and 30% had been disappointed by products they had bought after seeing good reviews.
All of the reviews on our website and facebook profile are real – from real customers. And our customers are so amazing, that sometimes they come back to our website many months after purchasing to leave a review.
We try not to be too smug about our reviews – there are many poor quality SUP brands out there shouting about how great their 5* reviews are. But we’re going to make an exception about this review. Because it’s made us really proud
“Like so many of your reviewers I’m sure, I agonised over the decision before taking the plunge with you. I’d been on Red boards before, liked them but balked at paying four figures for what I wanted.”
“My daughter said “this is easy” then fell off – that’ll teach her – but she really liked the simplicity and the ‘point and go’ ease of maneuvering.”
“So the Go Explore is much stiffer, much lighter and much better-behaved while still managing to be a long way more than £300 better value than either the Red or Starboard equivalents. “
“So here I am 5 months down the line. A UK winter and a few excursions on the board older. Still love the board, still love the concept of buying direct and still giving out the website to anyone interested.”
“If you’re thinking of buying a SUP, but aren’t quite ready to commit to McConks, just do it. You won’t regret it.”
Check the link below for more reviews!
Lechlade is a stunning little town on the Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire border, between Swindon and Oxford. It’s one of our favourite places to paddle for recreational family paddles. With numerous riverside pubs for food and drink, and to launch from (by agreement and if you promise to order food or a drink when you get back) you should always be able to find somewhere to park.
There is boat traffic, but it’s a reasonably wide stretch of river with sweeping meanders, so it’s easy to stay out of the way.
If you’re a nature lover you have a high chance of seeing Kites, Swallows and Kingfishers in the air and brown trout in the water. And if you’re really quiet you might see Water Voles and Otters.
There are a locks downstream of Lechlade which you can portage around, or if you’re lucky, be called into by the lock-keepers (make sure you have your British Canoeing membership or EA waterways licence to hand). And there are a few muddy beaches or bankside fields you can enjoy a picnic in.
if you see anyone on a McConks board, give them a wave. It might be us 🙂
As part of our #GoBeyond initiative, at the start of this year (it’s now April 2019) we made ourselves a commitment to do more to support rewilding initiatives, and to move towards carbon neutrality.
And then we found out about the rewilding charity #treesforlife. And decided that we could probably combine the two commitments!
We can’t make any bold claims about carbon neutrality, because we’re working with our manufacturers to properly quantify the embedded carbon in our whole supply chain. And that takes time.
But in the meantime, we’re working with trees for life to set up our corporate grove.
Some tree planting/carbon offestting schemes charge as little as 11p per tree, and plant them in random far away places with little real governance over the people who plant them or how they’re looked after. Some of the worst offestting companies actually cut down virgin rainforest to then replant them with saplings. Sadly, you can actually do more harm than good by supporting these cheaper and less ethical schemes.
Trees for life charge £6 per tree planted – which is enough to ensure the tree is maintained as part of our McConks corporate grove. And our grove is part of a much wider rewilding the Highlands project, therefore part of a designed and long term project.
We’ll share more details in due course.
When you’re looking to buy a new piece of sports kit, who do you take your inspiration from?
The very biggest sport brands, whether this be the likes of generalist sports brands like Adidas and Nike, or specialist watersports brands like Fanatic or Starboard, want you to take your inspiration from the top professional athletes in whatever the sport is. After all, one of the key reasons they sponsor the top competitive athletes is to make sure that you see fine athletic specimens, in their prime, on their branded kit. And if the marketing works, then just maybe, your brain will connect the whole ‘looking fit and winning’ with the brand itself. And that little seed in your head will grow and develop into a buying urge, because, perhaps one day, you too can be atop that podium just like those stars.
Without wanting to shatter anyone’s dreams here, how likely is that? And how appropriate is the kit that the Pro’s use for us mere mortals. Unless you’re training daily, have a six pack, and get a brand new board or ten every year, then probably not that appropriate. In the world of paddleboarding for example, although the top pro’s might be able to successfully paddle and trim a 22″ wide board, good luck to most of the rest of us 🙂 If there is one golden rule of cynical sales and marketing, it reads something like ‘sell to who they wish they were, not who they are’. And that’s exactly what those big brands do.
When choosing cars, we’ve always gone for cars that cab drivers use. There’s a reason why they’re chosen – they’re solid, reliable, and will last for years. And for watersports, we look at what outdoor education professionals and instructors use. Unlike the top sponsored athletes, they actually have to pay for their kit, out of ever decreasing budgets, and unlike sponsored athletes or ambassadors they’re not going to get given a new board for every discipline or environment. So they need kit that performs in wide range of conditions for a wide range of people, and they need to know that it will last for years. We think rugged, functional and versatile win out every day over shiny, elite and specialist!
These are word often used to describe our inflatable SUP boards and paddles by those very people we draw inspiration from. It’s the ethos that underpins our whole line up, and it probably explains why we’re so popular with outdoor activities providers. From the Princes Trust to Air Cadets, from Scout Groups to School Outdoor Ed Centres, from independent instructors to MOD trainers, our fusion technology boards have been tried and tested in challenging environments for three years now. And still look and perform as well as they did on day one.
If you want rugged, functional and versatile kit that’s tried, tested and trusted in harsh environments for over three years, you know where to come!
Keeping the McConks logo in full view
We’ve had a fair few customers ask us what’s changing in 2019.
We’ve made a big step forward this year further reducing the amount of non recyclable packaging we use. All of the packaging that our premium SUP packages come in is recycled or recyclable. And we are striving to ensure that all of our products will be delivered in 100% recycled or recyclable packaging by summer 2019.
And did you know that 30% of our SUP board bags is recycled from plastic bottles? And we have also just agreed with a supplier that our next major order of SUP bags will be made 100% from recycled plastic bottles.
But the biggest step is that we will now accept any end of life McConks goods back at McConks HQ for us to recycle. We haven’t quite figures out all of our recycling routes, but we’re close enough and confident enough that we have a route to charity or recycling to announce it now. There’ll be a big announcement about this in the near future. But for now, no more worrying about what to do with that damaged paddle blade, or the big huge hunk of PVC. Just return them to McConks HQ and let us do the rest.
Sound familiar? That’s because we’ve been using fusion technology since we changed to our new high tech factory in 2017. So fusion technology is not anything that’s new to us or our factory.
What fusion means is that the boards are the optimum trade off between weight and rigidity. It’s a more precise technique than the old manual gluing process. And it’s more sensitive to impurities getting into the process and causing leaky seams. But the super clean environment in our factory has almost entirely removed the risk of blown seams (never say never!). We’ve only had one product returned in two years with a suspected leaky seam, but on inspection at McConks HQ we couldn’t find any leak and the board held 20PSI pressure for 5 days in a test.
There’s an environmental and worker welfare benefit of fusion tech as well, because fusion technology requires less manual gluing. Which means less resources being used, less waste, and a better environment for workers.
With fusion tech being such an obvious win win for everyone, it’s good to see most brands finally converting to the future this year.
We’ve never made a board with less than two layers, and we’re not going to start now. Unlike others brands, all of our boards are at least two layers – whether this be our premium or our budget boards. We know from our testing and feedback from customers that we’ve got the optimum trade off between weight, rigidity and robustness. And that’s why we use a minimum two layer tech across all of our range, but three layers on those that will take the most abuse – the whitewater boards.
We’ve also been asked why we don’t use military grade PVC. This one is a little difficult to answer to be honest, because military grade PVC doesn’t exist. We use the very best PVC, drop stitch, and adhesive, and as a supplier to the MOD, we know that our boards meet their very exacting performance criteria.
There’s a bit of a theme. Again – this is something we have been doing for the last two years. All of our fins are removable, which gives riders the most flexibility in fin arrangement.
And our fin boxes are universal – with a full length US centre box, and side FCS compatible boxes.
Does this matter to most regular paddlers? 2018 was the year that proved the benefit of having removable fins in all fin boxes. With such low water levels after such an amazing summer, we sold buckets of our shallow river fins. And McConks riders were able to sneak a little extra clearance and a little better tracking compared to other riders, by using short 2″ river fins in the side boxes, and a 3″ fin in the centre box.
And if you’re a fin geek, and our range of fins aren’t high enough performance for you, any US or FCS fin will fit on our boxes, so the sky’s your limit when it comes to fins.
To find out more about how important fins are, and to demystify some of the terminology, check out our Focus on Fins article
Well, we haven’t just been smugly sitting on our laurels for the last twelve months. Although we haven’t changed the basics of how our boards are made (if it ain’t broke as the saying goes), we have got some exciting new products in 2019.
The 14″ Go Further has been designed as the ultimate super fast inflatable touring board. It’s got a pretty awesome glide for a board that packs so much carrying capacity. And it’s pretty fast too. Pair it with one of our Race paddles and you’ll be surprised how fast a 30″ wide board can go. There’s an over fascination on width these days. But our unscientific tests show that a well trimmed 30″ wide board with a waterline optimised for allwater glide is faster than a poorly trimmed narrower board. And of course, any speed benefit you gain from a narrower board is lost the moment that you swim!
Our 11’4 Go Explore board has been designed as a mini tourer board for those who don’t want to make the full step up to a 12′ plus board. With front and back storage, 2+1 fins, and a rockerline designed to cope with moderate chop this is fast becoming our most popular board.
We’ve also expanded our range of Whitewater and river SUP. Our new whitewater boards have again been developed with help from Anthony Ing of Stand Up Paddle Board UK, And Matt Stephenson. After success using the 9’8 Go Wild as a beginners board or whitewater touring board, Ant was after a bit more performance and a board that performs as a good training board for intermediates to advanced paddlers. We kept the rubber strips, 4+1 fins , Go pro mount and full length deckpad that worked so well on the 9’8, but slimmed the board down, and added a more lively rocker to come up with our 9’3 Go Wild. We’ve also added a proper ‘park and play’ wave skate SUP to the lineup with our Go Skate. With an aggressive rocker and convex rails, this board isn’t for the feint hearted! But is it a lot of fun.
After the success of the kids Go Surf board, we’ve got a load more of them arriving in 2019, but have added a teeny bit of volume at the tail, and removed a inch of volume and width from the centre of the board. This makes them easier and faster for kids to paddle!
Our kids paddles also now come in two lengths – with the longest being up to 190cm. Perfect for those taller kids (or smaller adults) looking for a smaller bladed paddle.
We’ve also launched our new photowall and our blog map. And these are open to all of our partners and customers. We just love seeing your photos, and so do new paddlers looking for inspiration or advice. So if you want to share your favourite places to paddle, your best tips and tricks, or just want to share the stoke, you can be published on McConks.com
We’re always looking to improve our range, and our performance. If you think we’re missing a key feature, or if you think we’re missing a trick, let us know. Maybe you can even be a prototype tester for us as we start to test new and improved products in the coming months. The development cycle never stops!
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Bath paddle board centre runs instruction and tours across the South West. Once you’ve got some experience you can then SuP with our group, Bath SUP. Check out our recent photos!