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The differences between high aspect and low aspect hydrofoils for wing foiling.

Pics: Oli Lane-Peirce

Hydrofoils (foils) come in all shapes and sizes and fit many types of flight discipline. Some cover all the bases whilst others are targeted towards specific styles of foiling. It can appear confusing to those getting involved for the first time, with many combos of different length fuselages, foil masts, stabiliser wing sizes and types and front wings. As you get more into foiling you’ll probably start looking at all the techy bits and start experimenting with the component parts. For this article, and the beginning of your foiling journey, it’s the front wing we’ll be focusing on.

Low aspect foils

When starting to fly you’ll be wanting two main things: early take off and stable flight. Both elements will see you progress rapidly. To achieve both, however, the best course of action is to choose a low aspect winged foil. These are the wings that appear most shovel-like. They’ll be wide (span) with a fairly long chord (nose to tail). And they’re usually quite thick at the leading edge.

Low aspect foil wings are often referred to as surf wings. That’s because they’re a tad slower than higher aspect, designed to stay in contact with the wave (rather than outrun it) when surf foiling. They also provide tons of power and lift resulting in as early take off as poss. In addition, low aspect wings are often quite carvey, designed to swoop and turn as you would when surfing conventionally.

For wing surfing purposes low aspect foils are a good choice. Wings are low power ‘engines’ without the efficiency of a rigid power source like a windsurf sail for instance. As such using your wing in partnership with a low aspect foil will result in airborne fun quicker than if using a high aspect foil – at least during those initial steps. The rail to rail stability of low aspect foil wings also allows riders to get comfortable once at altitude and hopefully progress to nailing those first gybes. Also, if you actually want to progress your winging to surfing, where you use the wing to tow into swells, flagging the wing behind you once on a wave, then a low aspect foil will be the best choice.

High aspect foils

Generally, high aspect foils are the exact opposite of low types. They’re much thinner, have a thinner chord, are a bit more unstable, need more power to lift and are faster. As such any wing foiler‘s technique needs to be much more dialled in. But, once flying on a high aspect foil the stock factor can be through the roof, such is the speed you get vs the actual true wind strength.

Any winger switching from low aspect to high will struggle to go back, such are the benefits. Foil brands have been beavering away at the design table trying to get high aspect foils as user friendly as possible – and it’s getting there. You can still use a high aspect foil for things like surfing, but you’ll need a bit more experience to get the most out of it. Where this type of foil really comes into its own is if you’re planning to jump. You can, of course, boost a low aspect, but the additional speed of a high aspect foil will usually see wingers getting much more sky time.

High aspect vs mid-aspect hydrofoil wings.

Mid-aspect foils

As much as you can split foil types into high and low aspect you can also split these categories down further by describing some hybrid designs as mi-aspect.

Mid-aspect foils aim for the best of both worlds. It’s not quite as cut and dry as that but for the purposes of this article, we’ll keep things simple. Some mid-aspect foil wings err to the lower end of the spectrum whilst some vice versa. Ultimately, whatever type of foil you’re looking at you should have an idea where its strengths lie and what you’re likely to find when using it.

Research is key with any new purchase (whether watersports equipment related or not). Look up details online, scan the web for reviews (although don’t put 100% of your faith in these as sometimes reviews can be biased one way or the other). Talk to your retailer who should also be clued up. Ultimately get as much knowledge about foils and foiling as you can if you intend taking the leap and getting involved.

If you want any help with McConks’ Go Fly wing foil range just shout. Also, any questions about foils we do know a thing or two and are only happy to help.

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Got time on your hands? Volunteer your time with the Furlough Enterprise Co-op.

Got time on your hands? Volunteer your time with the Furlough Enterprise Co-op

We’ve just come across this really great idea, and thought it was worth sharing.

The Furlough Enterprise Co-op is a brand new not for profit organisation set up to allow professional people with time on their hands to donate as little as two hours per week to help businesses, organisations, charities, communities and individuals who cannot otherwise afford to pay for the services they need to survive.

As founder Joanna Welch says:

“In light of the paradigm global economic shift due to COVID, in the way businesses operate; business diversification; new markets; start-ups; new emerging market leaders; the changes in the socio-economic environment and ultimately the heavy detrimental financial impact on businesses, organisations, communities and individuals, I feel now is the time to harness the bank of professional skill-sets that are the furloughed workforce, and use this to create a new way of trading expertise – an alternative to traditional procurement procedures i.e. budgetary led – instead offering an altruistic, community-driven cooperative where we can help buffer the damage of recession by enabling access to professional services to ensure survival for those who need it and do not have the financial resource to buy it. 

This concept will have an immediate effect on those suffering as a result of the pandemic; and then continue into the future to develop into a long-term business that continues beyond Covid.

It will also become an exciting new global network of contacts who can connect, interact and trade online – a highly valuable commodity. 

In essence the business is launched off the back of COVID / furlough schemes, but will carry on as a vehicle for people to be able to access some free professional services.”

You can donate as little as two hours per week by registering here.

https://furloughcooperative.com/

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SUP for wheelchair users – McConks’ Mega lending a helping hand.

Pics: Steve Nelson

It’s not always easy for disabled people wanting to get involved with stand up paddle boarding. There are lots of logistics and safety points to tick off and with every disability different, and the way it affects each individual, no ‘blueprint’ exists for getting afloat. Yet, where there’s a will there’s a way…

We know a few McConks aficionados getting stuck in and through ingenuity and perseverance are helping disabled paddlers get involved and making it happen. In this case, we’re talking about Steve Nelson who’s adapted the McConks Mega to accommodate a wheelchair, as you can see in the accompanying images.

You can see how Steve’s used the handles of the Mega to attached a ratchet strap which has then been tightened thereby securing the wheelchair to the board’s deck. It helps the Mega is so big with built in leeway of volume and width (plenty of it!). Needless to say the system works well even with additional paddlers loaded up for team paddling fun! Smiles all round.

All in we doff our cap to Steve for investing the time in getting this working and opening up SUP up to a wider audience. Nice one.

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McConks & Sporting NRG: delivering SUP opportunities to schools/colleges, underprivileged and disabled kids 2021.

McConks is super happy to be working with sporting/outdoor opportunities providing Sporting NRG for 2021’s SUP season. As of the last few days we’ll be providing stand up paddle boarding equipment the company will be using to deliver sessions to schools/colleges, underprivileged and disabled children.

McConks has always tried to be involved with institutions and set ups such as this as we feel strongly about giving young people opportunities. We hope many youths will benefit from having access to stand up paddle boarding. Those of us who SUP regularly all appreciate the benefits of floating about atop a board with a paddle in hand.

If your an organisation that does similar to Sporting NRG and are looking at delivering stand up paddle boarding next season then get in touch as McConka would be interested to hear from you and discuss the possibility of working together.

For more info on Sporting NRG and what they offer hit the following link – https://sportingnrg.com/

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Making SUP your lifestyle – progression for life.

You may have found stand up paddle boarding for the first time this year – in which case, welcome along! Alternatively, it could be you’ve been dabbling for a while, albeit sticking with the basics and what you know. SUP, however, is a diverse beast with plenty of pathways to follow. Its versatility is renowned which is one of the reasons it holds so much attraction.

It hardly needs pointing out but stand up paddle boarding can be taken in so many directions, which is its beauty. Floating about, mere yards from the shore, is one thing (and shouldn’t be sniffed at) but there’s a big wide world out there and stand up‘s one of the best tools for making good use of all these watery scenarios you come across.

But what’s lifestyle? More specifically what’s SUP lifestyle?

We’ve seen it often in 2020: new recruits purchasing their first set ups and having a bit of fun in the sun. Perfect! On from that, however, is arming yourself with the knowledge of what else stand up paddle can deliver. Then it’s a case of doing the thing – whatever ‘the thing’ may be.

From there the addiction sets in. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what that catalyst looks like. It could your first wave ride. Possibly you enjoy that initial night out in the wilds, camping under the stars having navigated your SUP round that far off bend. Perhaps it’s none of these and is simply about standing on water. That being its own unique trait that serves, none the less, to suck you in.

Moving forwards you begin engineering yours (and your family’s if you have one) life to allow paddling time whenever the window of opportunity opens. Forecast data’s perused, checked and analysed; kit set up for the impending adventure; chatter is filled with talk of boards and paddles, and your media consumption very much reflects your SUP habit. There’s nothing wrong with any of this either…

Stand up paddle boarding can be a life long dedication. Practising the art at any opportunity means you’re most likely ‘into it’ enough to call it your lifestyle. Cheesy surfisms aside if SUP‘s become all consuming then embrace it further. After all, what’s not to like? Free enjoyment of the outdoors whilst partaking in (fun) physical activity. Time to get involved and make it your lifestyle too if you haven’t done already…

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In case you missed it – McConks on BBC’s Countryfile.

Did you see it? Stand up paddle boarding on Countryfile this Sunday just gone (November 24, 2020)? As an advert for SUP (and McConks we might add) it’s great to see mainstream media taking notice. And with the theme of ‘countryside healing’ – in light of current global events – we concur there’s no better place to than outdoors. If that so happens to be atop a stand up paddle board then all the better.

In this episode the Countryfile team partake in a bit of SUP Yoga at McConks’ local stretch of water with the guys from Waterland Outdoor Pursuits. If you missed it, or fancy watching it again, then you can find the episode via the following link. You’ll need to be logged in to BBC iPlayer though and have a current TV license.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000pk32/countryfile-healing-countryside

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Why wait for Black Friday? McConks don’t do Black Friday SUP deals…

Can you see through the ridiculousness of Black Friday, or are you convinced by the bargains? Our experience is that Black Friday deal aren’t deals at all. Through peak season prices are hiked to guarantee as maximum a margin as possible. Come days like Black Friday during the paddleboarding off season, and what appears to be a reduction is actually a sale price more in line of what the item’s actually worth in terms of tech, performance and quality. Yet time and again we see consumers clamouring for these so called ‘deals’ without a thought for the ‘game’ being played by some companies.

Of course, not every brand is like this. Some are reputable, above board and transparent. McConks likes to think of ourselves the latter. We wear our hearts on sleeves – as can be seen in many posts across this very website and our social media feeds. McConks tells it like it is and prices our stand up paddle boards, paddles and accessories in the fairest way possible. As such you won’t see Black Friday deals on McConks’ website.

We appreciate, even with the above being said, that you still may be looking for a SUP bargain. Have no fear on this as you can rest assured that the cost of McConks SUP kit is as keen as you’re likely to find based on its quality, usability and longevity. Sustainability is something we bang on about regularly and we stake our reputation on the fact McConks iSUPs are fit for purpose, well manufactured and will stand the test of time. And we don’t play marketing games with prices. You can preorder for the next year at a discount – because that saves us money, Or you can buy at full price during the season. Simple, transparent and honest pricing. Same with our paddles; same with our accessories; same with anything we put our name to.

So, no, you won’t find a sudden slashing of prices in the McConks webshop. Instead, you’ll discover fair costs for gear designed to deliver you fun and functionality is the best way we know how. There may be a few additional deals to be had from time to time, via our ex demo equipment. But by and large the new products we offer are available to get you SUPing in no time and progressing down whichever avenue of the sport you feel best suits.

Why not head over to the McConks webshop and have a nose. If you have any questions about any of our gear then give us a shout via the usual channels.

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Rock and Water Adventures – doggy and winter paddling shenanigans aboard McConks iSUPs.

With cooler weather closing in you need to trust your stand up paddle board gear. You don’t want to lose faith in equipment that could potentially save your life, as well as provide fun. You certainly don’t want it failing when the weather’s inclement. 100% confidence in gear is key, as Rock and Water Adventures tell us.

Paddling on lakes brings its own chill with water through winter dropping in temperature much more than coastal locations. So we’re chuffed when we get feedback like this. So thanks Paul Smith for your comments. We aim to produce the best quality SUP equipment and this tells us we’re on the right path.

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Keep your distance, even with animals – kayaker/humpback whale close call.

It doesn’t matter who you are or how invincible you consider yourself to be. At some point Mother Nature will prove just how insignificant (and vulnerable) the human species really is. And we’re not talking COVID for change. In this instance we’re talking large marine mammals most commonly known as humpback whales.

Humpbacks are mostly calm and gentle giants but in this video it appears one decides he’s had enough of a bunch of kayakers invading his/her territory. And so, the whale sticks it to one paddler who must’ve got a right fright. In actual fact, from the news story, it seems a large shoal of fish appeared which the whale decided to go after. Unfortunately, the kayaker happened to be in the way. So it was just an accident. While everyone came away unscathed but it shows you should never underestimate wildlife – particularly hungry whales!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTG3EFx4ZDM&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR3q6Tn9oMOCnBQ1bLJgNPa9_kJVz4sCfPhQEsuaDYBal3mL5LOS_zJYsks
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Wild Carrot One Wheel SUP travel – the only way to get to your put in!

How do you access your stand up paddle boarding put in? We’d assume by car, van, or truck. Maybe you cycle, towing your gear behind. Or perhaps you just walk (if you’re lucky enough to live close enough to water). How about this method from the Wild Carrot crew?

After nabbing a One Wheel (a self balancing single wheel personal transporter – a bit like a Segway skateboard) WC decided to put theirs to good use in tandem with a spot of stand up paddle boarding. And Hey Presto! the result is as you can see in the vid.

Nice work guys! How do you do yours?

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SUP surfing: reading waves and how to take off more accurately.

There’s been a bit of surf about the last few days. And we don’t mean whomping, ‘eat ya board’ death bombs where surfvival is key. We’re talking more accessible waves that allow progression. Big enough, but not life threatening. In particular, the south coast is getting a round of windless juice that’s enticing many a paddler into the action.

With the influx of newby SUPers this year the knock on to winter paddling, it seems, also continues. It’s certainly not as big numbers as seen in summer 2020 – the cooler weather puts paid to that. Yet new recruits are certainly out to experience this side of the sport.

One question we’ve heard is: ‘how do I take off on waves properly?’. As inexperienced riders ‘reading’ (interpreting) the conditions and proper positioning are new skills to learn. Simply paddling for any old lump like a hyperactive puppy doesn’t yield best results. Some thought and a plan of attack needs to be put in place.

All waves aren’t the same. And no surf break works like the rest. There are similarities but that’s about it. We should also add that no two waves break in identical either.

The best word to describe how a SUP surfer should act is ‘proactive’. Sitting in one spot and not moving in rhythm with the ocean won’t get you a ride. Of course, surf etiquette should be adhered to. (If you’re unsure of surf etiquette then familiarising yourself is essential). With proper conduct, however, there shouldn’t be a problem with working your way to the peak. We should add that knowing and understanding tides and factor such as rips is info you’ll need to stay safe as much as actually SUP surfing.

The peak is where the wave starts to form, jack up and become more vertical. At most beach breaks, which is where you should be riding (to start), multiple peaks will exist. This’ll be where the bulk of surfers are sitting. Either side may offer the odd alternative section but it’s the peak you generally need to be on. Note: quieter peaks do exist at many surf spots. You may just have to walk a little to find them. If you’re learning this is worthwhile.

As waves pulse through some will be bigger while others will be smaller. Spotting a set incoming and paddling either out or in, depending on how you judge the size, is a good idea. Your chosen wave should be as vertical as possible. Timing is everything and this only comes with practice. Aiming to drop down the wave face at the wave’s apex is the route you’re aiming to take. Make sure you look around and spot others who want the same wave – avoiding collisions is wise. Looking also means peering behind you, over both shoulders, to see how the wave is stacking up and which way it’s likely to peel. Keep your head up and don’t shoe gaze.

When you feel the I ocean’s energy lift you and your SUP paddle hard! You should already be in surf stance and aiming to trim the board, nose to tail, to stop the front submerging and you bailing or the wave rolling beneath you and you falling off the back – a balanced almost martial arts stance is needed. Look in the direction of travel as you continue to stroke. Don’t stop paddling until you’ve 100% caught the wave and are being propelled along. Bend your knees, trim the board and avoid standing tall with your paddle in the air grinning like a Cheshire cat. We get the stoke factor but this’ll mean you just run straight as opposed to along the wave. It also means you’ll have further too paddle back out against lines of white water. Hopefully you’ll then score a fun ride and be ready for more.

Surf SUPing is something that needs to be done more to improve. With careful practice, however, there’s no reason you won’t enjoy a fulfilling winter of riding waves.

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Rapid Skills Lake District stand up paddle boarding trip – score!

Back in early October the crew from Rapid Skills (SUP and Training biz) took a sojourn to the Lake District. As many who’ve wandered here before can attest the Lakes can deliver every type of weather, regardless of forecast! We can truly say, having therefore seen this awesome shot, that the guys truly scored. To nail glassy, idyllic stand up paddle boarding conditions in this neck of the woods is a trick all in itself.

Autumn and winter can offer some cracking paddling, if you time it right – something we’ve been banging on about for the last few weeks. This shot proves the point. When ‘oribble weather’s in the mix it can seem a distant memory to have such windless, paddle friendly days. Yet give it time and you’ll get your chance again…honest!

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Winter’s for white water! – McConks river SUP toys to make the most of it.

Any river rat, white water runner or huck monster knows winter’s the best time of year for scoring big flow lines and ending your stand up paddle sesh with a huge grin. Whilst white water SUP is still relatively under the radar there’s no question how much fun chasing rapids, weirs and drops can be. And actually it doesn’t need to be as gnarly/hardcore as that makes out. Even mellow white water can be super fulfilling.

So why is the off season best for this kind of stand up paddle boarding? Well, simply put, it rains more in winter. And it’s said rain that fills up your local river and gets those hydraulics working. (As we’ve said before SUPing in the rain is definitely applicable, and this proves it). In summer water levels tend to drop significantly, to the point you’d most likely be scraping the bottom should you attempt a line. But as we head into November proper the heavens will open (in fact, they already have if you take the recent October half term as evidence) and pretty soon it’ll be sluicing down those geological scars in the land, swelling to deeper levels, in turn enticing any white water aficionado into the action.

McConks identified the need for specific white water SUP gear early on. Many McConks fans come from river running backgrounds. And we ourselves (Family McConks) live close to river put ins, as many will be aware. We therefore created a raft of SUP equipment to cater for all white water tastes. From freestyle, trickster platforms, to river touring boards; if you have an urge to go with the flow (sorry!) then chances are we have SUP equipment to suit your needs.

Currently in stock (as of Nov 3, 2020) are the following –

Go Skate 7’2 river surf SUPAVAILIN STOCK3
Go Wild 9’3 Whitewater SUPAVAILIN STOCK4
Go Wild 9’8 | beginner whitewater SUPAVAILIN STOCK2
9’8 Go Free 2020 crossover wingsurf/surf boardAVAILIN STOCK12
Go Surf 9’2 children’s inflatable SUPAVAILIN STOCK1
Go Anywhere 10’8 inflatable SUPAVAILIN STOCK3
Go Race 12’6 inflatable race boardAVAILIN STOCK7
14 Go Further adventure and touring SUPAVAILIN STOCK3
Go Mega 17 team SUPAVAILIN STOCK

Of course, we should add that many of teh above products aren’t just applicable to white water scenarios. You’ll find plenty of versatility with McConks gear. If you’re unsure of what t choose then give McConks HQ a shout to discuss your requirements.

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McConks new SUP paddle blade graphics – which one’s your fave?

We’re always looking to evolve here at McConks. With this in mind we’ve been tinkering with different SUP paddle blade options, as you can see below.

From a stand up paddle boarding point of view (with emphasis on the standing and paddling bit – even though SUP has evolved to include other forms of propulsion) your paddle is still the defining piece of equipment. We appreciate, however, that as much as paddling performance is required from your ‘engine’ it also has to look decent.

McConks graphics and liveries have been changing over the last few seasons but up until this point, we’d not shone a spotlight on our paddles. So, now we have. But which one do you think’s best? Is the timeless, understated and knocked back version your favourite or do you like something with a bit more pizazz?

Let us know what your preferred design is. You can follow the original Facebook conversation here. Get involved!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/McConksSUPcommunity/permalink/372955963949728/

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Lockdown 2.0: will you still keep paddling? – Facebook SUP group survey results.

Here we go again: back to being confined to barracks as COVID continues to sweep the globe. Just like spring 2020 cases are at such a level that drastic measures are deemed necessary. Unlike spring, however, there’s a lot more knowledge surrounding the virus. So whilst we’re in a tricky situation is Lockdown 2.0 going to mirror that of earlier in the year? And does that mean an end SUP (at least in the short term)?

We already published a post detailing the advice given by the government but here’s a brief reminder list of why you can leave your home, published by The Metro at time of Lockdown 2.0’s announcement October 2020 –

Going to school

Going to work, if you can’t do your job from home

For exercise – there are no limits in place this time

For medical reasons

To escape injury or harm

To shop for food and other essentials

To care for vulnerable people

To volunteer

What was interesting is the SUP public’s response to Lockdown 2.0. We ran a small poll from one of our Facebook groups to get a feel about paddling through. You can see the results in the pie chart below.

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Lockdown revisited | Should I still paddle? 01/11/2020.

Am I allowed to still paddle during Lockdown #2?

We now know a little bit more about lockdown #2, and what the restrictions are on us in England (apologies to our friends in Scotland and in Wales). Whether one agrees with the lockdown or not, it is now unescapable.

So what do we know about the rules so far? We’ve summarised the guidance so far, as it pertains to paddling (taken from gov.uk on 01/11/2020). Our comments are in italics. Everything else is extracted directly from Gov.uk.

Stay at home

This means you must not leave or be outside of your home except for specific purposes. These include:

  • for work purposes, where your place of work remains open and where you cannot work from home (including if your job involves working in other people’s homes). We expect Sport England to clarify what this means for paddlesports instructors and businesses soon. But it is unlikely to contradict the bullet below.
  • to exercise outdoors or visit an outdoor public place – with the people you live with, with your support bubble or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household (children under school age, as well as those dependent on round-the-clock care, such as those with severe disabilities, who are with their parents will not count towards the limit on two people meeting outside).

This list is not exhaustive and there are other limited circumstances where you may be permitted to leave or be outside of your home. These will be set out in law and further detailed guidance will be provided

So you’re allowed to be outside exercising for as long as you want (none of the 1 hr recommended limits from the first lockdown), as long as you are only exercising with your family or one other person at a social distance. This makes perfect sense from a scientific point of view, because all of the evidence so far indicates that transmission is very low outdoors.

Meeting with family and friends

You can exercise or visit outdoor public places with the people you live with, your support bubble, or 1 person from another household (children under school age, as well as those dependent on round-the-clock care, such as those with severe disabilities, who are with their parents will not count towards the limit on two people meeting outside).

Outdoor public places include:

  • parks, beaches, countryside,
  • public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them), allotments
  • playgrounds

You cannot meet in a private garden.

Travel

You should avoid travelling in or out of your local area, and you should look to reduce the number of journeys you make. However you can and should still travel for a number of reasons, including:

  • exercise, if you need to make a short journey to do so

Overnight stays and holidays away from primary residences will not be allowed. This includes holidays abroad and in the UK […] but this means people cannot travel overseas or within the UK, unless for work, education or other legally permitted reasons.


Worried about putting the emergency services or others at risk?

By virtue of spending so much time outdoors, particularly in and around the water, we know quite a few people in the emergency services, especially those with water experience (SAR, RNLI, Fire Service) especially. And the quote below reflects the general mood at the moment:

“I find it frustrating when people start to use the excuse that paddlers are putting our emergency services at extra risk! This may have been true during the first lockdown with people venturing into new sports. I feel there’s many variables this time round such as it’s winter and those that were jumping on a Lilo and being blown across the Bristol Channel won’t be so keen this time round. There has also been a great increase in awareness from social media and the RNLI etc regarding SUP safety. People are also more experienced in their new sporting ventures.
As an emergency services worker I would see cyclists at higher risk, riding during the darker nights but we wouldn’t dream of telling them to stop, just educate and that’s the key. Education, education. All sports have some sort of risk involved. I want to get into WWSUP more but I’m not going to try it during a lockdown.
Benefit V Risk and paddling during lockdown no doubt leans on the side of mental wellbeing and the importance of exercise, especially outside activities during what will no doubt be a difficult time for many.”

We can’t claim that this is a universal opinion, but it’s definitely not uncommon.

So, in our opinion and in a nutshell…

  1. You CAN keep paddling if you can walk, cycle, drive or take public transport a short distance to your put in. Short distance is not defined at this point.
  2. You can paddle alone (not recommended), with your family bubble or with one other person.
  3. There are no restrictions on how long you can exercise for, but you must be at home every night – you cannot stay away
  4. Stay safe: Autumn/winter tend to lead to more challenging paddling conditions. We all have responsibility to make sure that we don’t inadvertently put others at risk through our own bad choices. So maybe if your normal operating range is 80 – 100 extreme%, tone it down a little to 60 – 80% to keep everyone safe!

What do you think?

We asked whether people would keep paddling during lock down if they could. This group (SUP hacks) overwhelmingly subscribe to the ‘keep calm and carry on’ men, and this backs up all conversations we’ve had with people in real life.

The plot below shows the results of a poll on the Facebook group SUPhacks – a clear indication that the overwhelming majority want to keep paddling.

And with all the mental and physical health benefits being in or near water brings, it’s not surprising that people won’t to keep doing what brings them a little dose of sanity in a very unsettling world.

When Waterland at Lake 32 announced on facebook they were going to stay open so people could continue to take their exercise there, the outpouring of emotion in the comments just goes to show how very important these activities are to so many of us!

Whatever you choose to do, stay safe, be sensible, have fun, and do whatever you need to do to get through this.

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Rapid Skills SUP safety course with Canoe & Kayak store review.

Rapid Skills have certainly been putting the effort in this year. From running skills course to safety lessons and everything else in between. They’ve been a busy bunch and have been helping raise the profile of SUP and get paddlers sorted for all manner of stand up shenanigans.

Most recently Rapid Skills ran a SUP Safety course with Rosie at Canoe Kayak Store. One of the biggest takeaways from her story is the comment that she didn’t expect to glean anything new from doing the course, only she did! Proving once again that ‘every day’s a school day’ – to quote an often used cliche. But it’s true. Even the most experience of us, that have been paddling SUPs (and other craft) for years can always pick up new points and adapt that to our own styles.

You can read Rosie’s full story of her time with Rapid Skills here – https://www.canoeandkayakstore.co.uk/blogs/news/paddle-boarding-throughout-autumn-and-winter?fbclid=IwAR1-jqIkMj394d0fIvRdU53nfbLrzi3oNt2o5bHYvRUocgvyRBqbEt2rxG8

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Spotted in Sweden! Chris Jones trialling new McConks designs.

It never stops here at McConks. Whether we’re sourcing new materials for improved manufacturing, trialling new designs through prototyping or looking for ways to be a better stand up paddle boarding business we’re always working and striving to evolve.

There’s no secret we’ve been working on new SUP concepts (among other things). But we do utilise the very capable services of our extensive network of paddlers we can call on. Some of you may know Chris Jones who switched locations to Sweden a few years back. Chris’s paddling locations can be seen in the accompanying pics. You have to admit it looks idyllic and we’d love the opportunity to experience his backyard. But we digress…

What you can also see in the pics is something special that’s being work on for potential release sometime shortly. What do you think?

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Raw Atlantic power! Huge surf hits Sligo, Ireland, and big wave riders do battle.

If you’re not acquainted with the world of big wave surfing then it may surprise you to learn the west coast of Ireland, on its day, can deliver some of the beefiest waves on the planet. As was seen yesterday (October 29, 2020) as the remnants of Storm Epsilon roared out of the deep.

The size of the waves off Mullaghmore HEad rivalled some of the world’s biggest wave spots. But what sets this session, and the swell ridden by charger Connor Maguire, apart from many others is the sheer remoteness, coldness and loneliness it all encapsulated. In any normal year a whole host of hell men and women would have descended on the normally quiet Irish coast to do battle with Mother Nature. But with COVID restrictions in place for many it was left to the local crew to put on a display.

Judge for yourself from the RTE News report and surfing footage how proceedings went down. You can see the full news report by hitting the following link – https://www.rte.ie/news/ireland/2020/1028/1174519-surfing-sligo/?fbclid=IwAR1sUmVau7ko6e0XSAQnwQ77kXJO_Ek6DQE2NuQWX-WKgZs5E-A1MbRaiTc

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Resetting the SUP clock – stand up paddle boarding progression done differently.

As far as SUP goes we’re in a unique situation currently. We all know there’ve been hordes of newbies coming into the fold and whilst a large proportion of those stand up paddlers will stick with what they know (recreational SUPing) there’ll be those looking to push and progress.

Versatility has always been a thing with SUP. It’s one of those activities that you can take anywhere. And as things stand in 2020 the foiling arm of the sport has added a whole new dimension. But dialling it back to standing on a platform and paddling is where the resetting of the clock can happen and the industry (McConks included) do things differently than before.

Back pre-2010 there was a huge push from manufacturers and interested paddlers to see what could be done with this new fangled watersports gear. Pretty soon, as seem to be the way with this kind of thing, equipment had gone super high performance with marketing messages suggesting ‘you need this to be able to do that’. Which in most cases just isn’t true.

Spotlighting SUP surfing as an example: the notion riders need to paddling sub-9′ boards with as little volume as possible, combined with narrow board widths (30″ or less), is the only way to achieve manoeuvrability and carving agility. If you’re looking for the absolute pinnacle of rippability then yes this might be the case. But for most paddlers venturing into wave environments a standard 10’6 will do the job just fine – even an inflatable. And we’re talking real world surf conditions here not macking overhead bombs! Knee/waist high peelers are more than doable for a spot of SUP surfing and your trusty all round SUP will cope just fine.

With sales and interest in these ‘sinkers’ lacking an about turn was performed by many SUP companies around 2015. Brands started to make those longer boards more manoeuvrable whilst balancing their all round flat water appeal. To a degree, however, interest had been lost and SUP surfing remains a niche within a niche.

The above is just one example of how things have evolved. With so many new SUPers entering the 2020 fold there’s now a chance to re-educate. Again, picking on SUP surfing as the example, any kind of wave – from ankle lappers to head high reelers – are ripe for a bit of stand up paddling. The gear you purchased this summer for those first forays will do you proud if there’s a fancy for getting among the surf. Of course, if you feel the need to upgrade down then line and own something more tuned up for wave riding then this can happen. In the short term, however, it’s not imperative this happen – you’ll still be having fun whatever ‘log’ you choose to slide atop.

It doesn’t just stop there, however. SUP racing white water river running and every other aspect stand up paddling is ripe for the picking. You don’t need specialist kit per se you just need to stay safe. That’s the more important point. Purchasing that full on surf SUP can happen down the line if you’re that into it you feel the need.

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Big surf, rain and the largest storm of autumn so far – SUP weather watch Oct 27, 2020.

Although we’re well into October half term it’s worth talking about the behemoth low pressure currently tacking into towards the United Kingdom and Ireland. With a Def Con 1 warning in effect exposed beaches, particularly those in Cornwall and Devon, will see huge surf and probably quite a lot of breeze. Oh, rain as well! Which everyone will no doubt relish. If you’re planning on getting in the water during your week long break then it’s worth considering the peak of the swell will hit tomorrow (Wednesday, Oct 28, 2020) and last into the weekend. There’ll be big tides as well meaning additional currents running. Most beaches will probably be red flagged, according to an RNLI update. They do suggest that if there’s a way to keep waters open they’ll do so. Some spots may offer shelter – the more popular ones will no doubt be crowded. If you do plan on getting wet then it’d be wise to consider your skill level and whether you’re up to it. Also, your gear.

But it isn’t just the SW you’ll need to be careful with. Our sources based along other parts of the British and Welsh coastlines are reporting large waves and gusty winds today (Tues October 27, 2020). This too will only ramp up. Autumn 2020’s been fairly quiet so far with not much in the way of storm activity. The past few days have seen torrential rain and blowy weather in parts with the arrival of this low pressure fully kickstarting what will become normal during the next few months.

So best advice is be wary. If you’re new to SUP now’s not necessarily the right time to be pushing your envelope. We’re not trying to be the fun police but Hobnobs and tea, whilst observing conditions safely from afar may be the best course of action. Save your stand up paddle surfing progression for another, less hectic time. If, however, you able to cope and perform in conditions like this then be sure to put on a show (safely) and signpost just how the performance end of SUP can be.

Fistral North, Newquay, Cornwall surf report

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2020: vulnerability, SUP and rediscovering your own backyard.

Based on a true story –

‘If you’re medically vulnerable then 2020 has possibly been considerably tricky. Illness that isn’t seen, unlike physical disability, isn’t often thought about by those not in similar situations. This isn’t a criticism, just an observation. For anyone with ongoing medical issues, however, it’s never too far away from your thoughts. Having had a year to adjust and begin a new way of life, post-hospital period, 2020 was to be a more relaxed affair. COVID obviously had other ideas. Living life at distance before the pandemic, because of vulnerability/susceptibility, has simply continued – and then some!

Whilst being extremely careful, pre-COVID/post-op, some things I could indulge in. For instance, dining out and visiting the local was an often chosen pastime. It’s always been a love rocking up to a pub with a roaring log fire, ‘orrible weather outside, making it all the more cosy once through the door (I’m an old romantic at heart). You may not see it but ‘proper pub’ ambience was something I enjoyed immensely. It’s a similar story with eating out at restaurants and such. That is currently all on hold as even with measures in place it’s an unnecessary risk I can’t/won’t take. It isn’t the fact I may get COVID (although that’s certainly a risk). It’s more about picking up another bug resulting in a hospital visit and therefore bringing me into contact with all manner of infections.

Holidays are another exercise off the agenda. I’ve travelled extensively, for various reasons (not just recreation). But COVID has halted this – even in the UK. At times there were possible windows of opportunity to get away this summer. And even now, as autumn rolls on and winter looms, there’s temptation to get gone – if only for a change of scene. But upon reflection it just isn’t worth it. The angst, fret, worry and possibility of not being able to make the most of even short sojourns makes it a non-starter. So my own backyard it is – at least in the short term.

This all may sound quite depressing. Yet whilst I’ve been confined to barracks it’s not all been doom and gloom. Fortunately I live next to a few different bodies of water. On top of this there’re are some great outdoor spaces that have been ripe for the picking. As this is my home it’s easy to choose times when less people are going to be about and actually get a window with nobody around. It’s also been chance to rediscover my own backyard – it’s surprising what you don’t even know is there or forget about.

Stand up paddle boarding has been epic this year (the irony). With great weather on offer plenty of opportunity for SUP sessions have been made use of. And, again, it’s surprising the amount of paddling routes you can find within a few miles of your house – even if you think you have all of them in your knowledge bank.

As it stands things don’t look like they’re about to change in the short term. But that’s OK as long as I can keep stand up paddling boarding in my own neck of the woods and getting about in the outdoors (locally). I’ll not lie: it’d be super nice to head off on a SUP/surf trip and get amongst decent surf this winter. It’d also be nice to enjoy a family meal out at a local eatery – even nabbing a takeaway coffee. But none of these things are essential in the grand scheme. I and my family have come to realise you don’t need to be schlepping round shops (not that I liked this anyway), or anywhere else like that to be honest. 90% of the places we used to go for supposed ‘essential reasons’ are not missed. It’s more the ‘nice to haves’ if you will that’d bring a nice change to the (sometimes) monotony of COVID Times.

For now doorstep SUP sessions are ‘it’, keeping my head down the rest of the time. I feel for anyone who’s in even more of a tricky situation than this and hope for everyone’s sake that things improves soon. In the meantime, stay safe, enjoy your home and surroundings (if you can) and try not to let it all get you down – sometimes hard I know…’

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Top whitewater SUP skills aboard McConks’ Go Skate!

McConks’ Go Skate inflatable white water SUP was made for conditions like this, even if they are manmade. There’s still no denying the power of water with flow, regardless of the chosen SUP playground. Here Beth gets to grips with the Go Skate and the standing wave. It looks simple enough but trust when we say it isn’t. There’re some top drawer skills on display here. We salute anybody who gets amongst it like this.

Also, if you thought McConks only supplied SUPs for recreational stand up paddle boarding then think again. Whilst wen can certainly accommodate if you simply want to float then we can also supply the gear for more adventurous paddling. Check out the McConks webshop to discover the full range.

If anyone has any questions about any of McConk’s gear then just holla.

Some real skills on display here!We've still got a couple of these #goskate left in stock. Reposted from @bethk128 It was nice to get out on the course on a different board today. Thoroughly enjoyed playing on the @mcconksuk_sup Go Skate as it enabled me to get to grips with the new features on the course (thanks @mattstephensonkayak for letting me borrow it). ..Think I might be hooked on the shorter boards. Now to find one to buy…#WhiteWaterSUP #WhiteWater #SUP #WhiteWaterIsMagic #WhiteWaterSwimming #StandUpPaddleboarding #StandUpPaddleboardingUK #WWSUP #WhiteWaterSUPUK #SUPGirl #ShePaddles #McConksSUP #HolmePierrepont #GoPro #GoProUK

Posted by McConks on Saturday, 10 October 2020
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Stand up paddle board demos/events – have we missed them in 2020?

Pre-COVID days there were a plethora of stand up paddle board events across the country, continent and globe with everything from high level SUP races/surf SUP comps to much smaller grassroots gatherings. At many of these get-togethers you’d find a whole host of SUP brands airing their wares and giving the punter an opportunity to try the various bits of kit. From paddles to boards, wetsuits to accessories there was plenty available for having a bash with. The hope being (from the brand’s side of the fence) that you’d fall in love with a product and then make a purchase.

Demos for potential customers were a way to sift through the seemingly endless marketing bumph – that many couldn’t make head nor tail of – and see exactly how a board or paddle translated to water environments. Was the gear in question likely to fit a paddler‘s wants and needs? Whilst ‘conditions’ (as it were) at many events were never exact replicas of a rider’s local some idea and basic understanding of kit could be garnered. And this goes for inflatables as well as hard boards.

Wit 2020 being the year of COVID, with all but a smattering of comps cancelled, there’s been no real way for punters to test kit. Add the fact retailers have been operating with social distancing in place, with demo/test equipment hard to come by, and you potentially have a nightmare situation for any peddler of SUP gear. After all, if you can’t face to face with your audience, get them using your kit (and promote the benefits of) how you can you expect to sell anything?

But as well know 2020 has seen an unprecedented rise in popularity with SUP. Up until this year, many brands were in a state of consolidation stripping back ranges and focusing on what they were best at rather try and fulfil every pipeline. For some, this was the performance end of stand up whereas others had traction with inflatable markets. 2019 wasn’t the best year for sales of stand up paddle boarding gear the majority of SUP businesses questioning the sport’s longevity. It had already been described as the fastest growing watersport back pre-2010. But then the economic crash of 2008 bit and it wasn’t quite the same after. Proof of that came with a few media publications, such as SUP the Mag, shuttering and once high profile events such as Battle of the Paddle (subsequently rebranded to the Pacific Paddle Games) also ceasing to exist.

With 2020 starting off as a seemingly innocuous year quickly shifted tack with a global pandemic hitting us all. Doom and gloom prevailed at the tail end of winter, seemingly endless rain mirroring the nation’s overall mood. Lockdown was still a few weeks off and the population hadn’t quite gotten its head around what that might look like. And then, bang, we were all confined to barracks…And the sun put his hat on!

A perfect cocktail of events then ensued. Restrictions were lifted and everyone was allowed back out into the world, albeit with a few caveats. Staying on home soil, without having to work (furlough) for a large % of the population which gave a bit of disposable income, plus good weather and the desire to make the most of things led to SUP being one of the headline activities the nation were choosing to do. Suddenly stand up paddle boards, paddles and accessory sales were through the roof. This escalated further as summer rolled in with many brands, including McConks, selling out of stock.

The situation continued as school holidays landed – even though most kids hadn’t seen a classroom for weeks. Everywhere you looked stand up paddle boards were strapped to the roofs of cars, hiding in the backs of vans, or being towed to the river/lake by cycle power. Then there were the actual numbers of SUPers you encountered once afloat! You couldn’t have predicted it. It became self perpetuating…

In the absence of demos, and the ability to try before you buy, questions about various types of kit were being asked online – particularly social media. Brands were being hit up for their info and mates were being quizzed about the gear they’d just purchased. In the end though most paddlers simply took a punt, based on the budget they had, and by and large have been content with their choice. There’ve been a few horror stories but not too many.

So, do demos matter any more? The answer seems to be: obviously not. With SUP being so popular again newbies appear to be happy to own the kit that allows them to get wet. This being the biggest demographic nobody’s really looking for ultimate performance. Stand up is simply a way to enjoy the outdoors and time on the water; with family, with friends or solo. If this is the precedent that chunk of extra cash most brands need for demos and events can be put to other uses. That’s great for any stand up paddle boarding business in the short term. Whether it remains the Status Quo is open for debate, however. Only time will tell…

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Stand up paddle boarding in the snow – yes you can!

There’re no two ways about it: winter’s coming and with that the potential for fluffy white stuff falling from the sky. For some this scenario couldn’t be further from needed whereas others revel in flurries of flakes creating white carpets across our green and pleasant land. It can play havoc with travelling, such a driving in snow. Although with COVID restrictions in place perhaps that won’t be too much of a challenge as there could be less people on the roads?

Some weather forecasts are already modelling and trying to predict what type of winter we’re going to get. It’s impossible, even for the most high tech algorithms, to give a 100% picture of what’s going to happen. That said an indication may be believable – to some degree.

So what’s the suggestion as it stands? With it being a La Nina year, and an 85% probability rating of this lasting through winter, colder dryer conditions may be on the cards. And this could spell snow. For many this will automatically put the kybosh on going anywhere near water and getting afloat. A nice warm fire, cup of tea and a snuggly jumper the preferred option. Yet stand up paddle boarding when there’s snow on the ground is certainly doable.

The fact is: when it’s snowy the air temperatures are actually a bit warmer. Yes, you need it to freeze high up in the atmosphere to actually crystallise the raindrops and turn it to snow. But the blanket cloud that accompanies white stuff actually serves to keep some degree of temperature locked in. And if the sunshine turns on and you get bluebird skies following a dump then you’re on to a winner. The time a dampener may be put on things is if a gale’s blowing in accompaniment. In which case, maybe it’s best to sit it out and wait for a calmer window.

The bottom line, however, is that you can SUP in the snow. With the right protection (water wear) and adhering to SUP safety practises, there’s no reason not to bag a sesh even if fluffy powder’s falling from the sky.

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Time to get your groove on – what would you do aboard the McConks Mega SUP?

Posted by Eleanor Jones on Thursday, 15 October 2020

We have to say this is quite impressive. Those dance moves themselves have got rhythm and timing but the fact it’s also aboard the McConks Mega SUP lends additional kudos. This kind of thing isn’t as easy as it looks. Timing, balance and sure footedness are all needed, which are all on display in buckets here.

What would you do whilst atop a McConks Mega stand up paddle board? Here’s another example from back in summer. This is another option we quite like…

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Happy Environmenstrual week!

It seems timely to start this article with a little story about a recent trip to Cardiff. Andy suggested it would be nice for he and I to go for a city paddle whilst the boys had a day out with his parents. Reader, he lied! It was quite a traumatic, unpleasant paddle, for me at least. First, we parked in a less-salubrious area of the city, right next to a police incident support unit, the inhabitants of which were buzzing up and down the river searching for something. Then, as some of our regular readers may remember, some kids threw a traffic cone off a bridge at me, scaring the living daylights out of me – although thankfully it only nudged the board and I escaped injury and a dunking. I was left pretty shaken, and already doubting how ‘nice’ the paddle was. The final nail in the coffin of my enjoyment came when I decided to explore what appeared to be a lovely little tranquil lagoon off the main river just opposite our access point. Paddling in it was beautiful, and looked like a real wildlife haven… Until I looked down. It was fairly shallow and there were lots of white things on the river bed. I looked more closely, and yep, it was covered in sanitary towels. Horrified, I tried to make a quick (and dry) exit. Sadly, just at the entrance of the lagoon, and I have no idea how it happened, but I wobbled and fell in! Safe to say I have rarely got back on the board so quickly, and paddled back to land wishing for a decontamination tent! Although I have seen the odd tampon applicator on the beach, I have never had such a stark reminder of the effects of disposable period products, and if I hadn’t already been a strong advocate of reusable items, it definitely would have made me think!

Environmenstrual Week was launched by the Women’s Environmental Network in 2018 to raise awareness of period issues, including breaking the taboo around the subject, dealing with the inherent social injustices and trying to resolve the problem of disposable period products ending up in the environment. While these are all important issues, it is the latter that is most relevant to our audience here.

WEN report that a whopping 2 billion period products are flushed down Britain’s toilets every year, and they are also the 5th most common item found on European beaches. Britain recently celebrated single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds being banned, yet these are only the 7th most common item found on European beaches! Clearly there’s a massive problem here. Not only that, but sanitary towels can contain up to 90% plastic – a statistic that I certainly wasn’t aware of. Tampons also may have plastic applicators – a feature that isn’t even strictly necessary, as cup users will testify. [Stats sourced from WEN]

These statistics are horrifying, and in a time when plastic pollution is something we are all increasingly aware of, it’s clear that period products are a huge problem. Beyond the yuck factor, such as I experienced, there is the impact on the environment and wildlife of all these disposable sanitary items floating about in our waterways, the ocean and on land.

So as a reusable period product user for over 10 years, what would I recommend? I use a moon cup and Modi Bodi period pants as back up and would heartily recommend both. In fact I’ve been so pleased with them that I haven’t tried any other products. I’d be happy to have a chat about my experiences if you’re interested and would like to know more. However, I would say have a look at the wealth of options available, and have a try, as there’s all sorts from menstrual cups, to period pants to washable sanitary towels. Don’t be afraid – it’s a bit daunting at first, but so many people never look back. Different products will suit different people depending on the characteristics of their period, their lifestyle etc. They’re easy to use, save a heap of money over the course of their useful life and often people (myself included) find they make the whole experience more pleasant – and really who could ask for more! And don’t forget, you’re not only saving yourself money, you’re doing something awesome for our planet! 

If I’m preaching to the converted, then I think we can all do our bit by shouting about how great these products are, and being prepared to break the period taboo and talk about it. It’s also worth considering the social injustices inherent in the issue – although these reusable products save money in the long-term, they are more costly up-front and so aren’t possible for everyone. Unfortunately the cheapest disposable products are also the ones that have the most chemicals in their make up, and the most plastic. WEN have a great Environmenstrual Week Tool Kit available via the link below, if you’re interested in finding out what else you can do, and you can also get discount codes for various reusable products:

https://www.wen.org.uk/our-work/environmenstrual/
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What type of wave should I be looking at if I want to SUP surf?

With autumn already here, and winter just around the corner, the time for waves is now. It doesn’t matter which part of the UK’s coastline you head for you’ve more chance of scoring a surfable/SUPable wave during the off season. Low pressure systems whip up storms, close to shore and miles out at sea, all of which can deliver surf in various forms. But what type of venue and wave should you be looking at if you’re thinking of having a crack?

Waves come in all shapes and sizes: some absolute behemoths while other swells are mellower and smaller. Surf also breaks on all seabed types, from sand to reef and a mixture of the two. Waves can roll in and dump onto steeply shelving beaches as well as curling (refracting) round headlands and peeling either left or right. Basically, there are a multitude of scenarios for SUP surfing but not every one is right for taking those first steps.

A wide open sand bottomed beach will serve you well at first. Picking a spot that isn’t mega busy is also a good call. You may want others around for safety but if too crowded there’s nothing worse than a marauding stand up paddle board dancing through the line up, dragging the rider as the white water surges towards shore. Ample space and room to make mistakes is therefore key. Avoid places where heavy marine traffic is operating as well. The last thing you want to end up is a statistic!

The wave shouldn’t be too big. A stand up paddle board – even inflatable – will catch the smallest of ripples. That said you still want the feeling of riding a proper wave so something between knee and chest high will have enough ‘push’ to shove you along and give you the taste.

Whilst you can surf when it’s breezy there’s no point beasting yourselves if a blow’s puffing onto the beach. A windless or light air day will be much more fun and make getting ‘out back’ a doddle. It should also go without saying that obstacles, such as rocks and wooden sea defences need to be avoided. Simply making your life as easy as possible should be best course of action.

Research your intended surf spot thoroughly. Understand how the beach changes its personality as tides ebb and flow. Know how different wind directions affect the break as well. If you need to ask questions then do so. There’s a plethora of info online and most members of relevant Facebook groups will be able to answer your queries.

Finally, wrap your head around surf etiquette – it applies to SUPing in waves as well. Knowing the rules of the road is key to not annoying others and making sure you have an enjoyable time. Also, be sure to smile. When learning to stand up paddle surf you’re going to do a lot of falling. But this is OK and all part of the learning curve. Enjoy!

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McConks adventure SUP essentials – the right accessories for the job in hand.

Whatever type of adventure SUP you’re planning you need the right gear. This of course means board and paddle but it also means SUP adventure accessories. Fortunately here at McConks we’ve got you covered. Check out the range below and click on the titles or images to navigate to each product for more info.

Kelly Kettle base camp kettle

Journey Exstrema water filter bottle

McConks corkscrew bobble hat

Reclaimed plastic heavy duty waterproof dry bag

Whetman quick release SUP belt

If anyone has any questions about the above products then please get in touch.

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A chap we know makes lush SUP paddles – and we’re currently testing them!

Truly works of art these fine looking specimens are hand crafted SUP paddles that are so beautiful they’ll make your eyes water. Artisan stand up paddle board equipment such as this isn’t a new thing. Back at SUP‘s modern inception (2005 and on) a handful of woodturners and skilled with saw types were making gear like this. For some reason it all but faded away in the run up to 2020 bar a real small few who kept things going. There are probably a bunch of reasons why this is the case, not least costs of items like this.

Currently Family McConks is putting these gorgeous looking creations through their paces when we go afloat. You can see them in action in the following video –

Sunday is funday!

Posted by McConks on Sunday, 18 October 2020

Stay tuned to hear about our findings with these. As we’ve said in previous posts we’re always looking for ways to evolve the McConks brand. This could be pone such method of adding to our already existing catalogue of SUP paddles.

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SUP safety quick release belts discussion – join the debate on McConks’ Facebook page.

Here at McConks we’re super keen to promote SUP safety. Stand up paddle boarding may be one of the most accessible watery activities you can do but it isn’t without risks. We’re big fans of quick release safety belt leashes but just recently we were challenged on this and how beginner paddlers, with no prior experience, would cope with them. There’s no evidence to suggest they work in the hands of the uneducated so therefore are they actually the best safety tethering system? Do they add another layer of risk, as far as entrapment goes, that we haven’t thought about?

It’s an interesting question and one that should definitely be given thought. We also open to debate and searching for the correct solutions so posted the question to the McConks FB page to get our audience’s views. You can join the conversation by hitting this link – https://www.facebook.com/mcconksUK/posts/2759804044262062

We’re always keen to hear what you say as it isn’t also the case McConks has all the answers. And feedback, after, all only helps brands like us grow.

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‘Forrest Gump conditions’ – when weather forecasts don’t always play ball.

We bang on all the time about getting accurate weather info, learning to read a weather charts and interpreting that data for your chosen spot. Even inland this is imperative to not getting caught out when SUPing. If you’re new to stand up paddling then proper weather reports (not just the forecast that comes after the news) can be daunting. And yet with so many available websites displaying info in fairly simple to understand ways it can still remain a quagmire until you actually learn and understand what you’re looking at.

That said the UK’s weather, as we all know, is an unpredictable beast. Whilst every effort is made by forecasters and those designing forecast modelling software our land’s geography, in relation to our European conterparts and surrounding bodies of water, means things can change at the drop of a hat. What predictions tell you for your area don’t always come to fruition. But turning a blind eye to weather info is unsafe so it’s certainly best practise to learn, digest and understand. Knowledge is power after all…

Sometimes though the SUP conditions you actually get on the day at your chosen put in are what you could call ‘Forrest Gump’ esque. In the 1994 film, starring Tom Hanks as a man with an IQ of just 75, there’s a classic line: “My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” To lesser or greater extent this sentiment can be applied to UK weather.

A classic case in point can be reading the a daily chart only to find that gales are forecast with seemingly little chance of SUP in traditional sense – i.e. standing and paddling (windSUP may still be on the cards). But to quote another often used sentence, solidified by Hawaii’s North Shore legend Eddie Aikau’s formidable rep: ‘Eddy would go’ (yep, we’re all about one liners in this article!) meaning if you don’t have a look/see then you could miss out.

OK, we’ll admit. Most of the time weather forecasts do actually prove to be accurate. If it’s predicted to be windy and wet then it most likely will be. But every once in a while you do get ‘Forrest Gump weather’ that doesn’t reflect what the meteorologists tell you, leaving a clear window for a spot of unexpected SUP action… Our advice? Tune in to what’s going on weather wise and when a window opens just go for it!

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Sunrise SUPin’ – autumn/winter style…

Dragging the kids out of bed at dawn’s crack, to get on the SUP train for sunrise is made all the more worth it when you get a new day start like the one Team Fam McConks recently experienced. There’re no two ways about it: the weather’s closing in, days are getting shorter and the chilly air’s enough to make ya fingers tingle. But it can be an awesome time for some paddling fun if you can muster the enthusiasm and motivation.

Bad weather may be a common trait during the off season but calmer days, with amazing light and vistas, do also make an appearance. As such setting the alarm and making a beeline for the drink when the sky’s clear and the sun’s shining is so worth it. It’s good for the soul and headspace. Which goes for your offspring as well. In times where too much reliance is placed on screen time and sedentary living winter sunrise SUP sessions totally buck that trend and should therefore be grasped with both hands.

Get some sunrise (or sunset) SUPin’ yourself this winter. You’ll be glad you did!

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SUP obstacle courses – one way to enjoy some fun winter SUP time with your mates/family.

Did you know McConks have a number of inflatable obstacles that are currently being put to good use via the SUP 32 winter stand up paddle board club at one of our local lakes. We’ve been saying for a while that just because winter’s inbound doesn’t mean your SUP fun has to stop. Far from it! In this instance we’re putting our money where our mouths are and getting as many local stand up paddlers involved in some floating fun as possible.

What do you reckon? Do you think you could do better than the group in the video? It’s not quite as easy as you’d think. But tons of laughs regardless – even if you do fall splat in the drink!

Stay tuned for more updates from the SUP 32 club as we’re sure there’ll be plenty more of this over the coming weeks.

Hilarious ?

Posted by Lauren Gazey on Saturday, 10 October 2020
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SUP towboating – another way to ride your stand up paddle board.

We appreciate not everyone has access to high performance wakeboard gear – ski boat and boards. Plus wakeboarding’s actually quite tricky to master, at least when you compare it to SUP towboating. What’s SUP towboating we hear you ask? Simply put it’s being towed behind any kind of motorised craft whilst aboard your stand up paddle board!

The board you use can be any size and the boat can be a simple as a yacht tender, with small outboard, or watersports rescue RIB such as the one being used in the vid below. SUP towboating’s another example of your inflatable stand up paddle board‘s versatility. You don’t always need to be paddling. SUPs can be used for a whole manner of things. As long as your having fun then whatever really goes. Just look at the smile on Mrs McConks’ face!

Sometimes you need to go a little fasterOh such fun!#goskate#wake#lake32#faceplant

Posted by McConks on Sunday, 11 October 2020

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eWing foiling – assisted flights with the McConks Go Fly 5m wing surfing wing.

Pics: Oli Lane-Pierce

Why would you?

Much as with bikes having the ability to boost, increase speed, cadence, climb and aid your efforts having the ability to inject a little extra juice when wing foiling is definitely welcome. Unfortunately, the UK’s wind isn’t as steady as you’d think. It’d be nice to enjoy non-gusty Trade Winds as they do in parts of the world but with weather systems (low/high pressures) controlling our conditions we’re reliant on Mother Nature’s moods. Different wind directions, speeds and all with local effects – such as topography and tides in the mix (at least where the accompanying pics were shot) means you’re forever battling (to some degree) what’s on offer.

Electric hydrofoils and associated boards are definitely gaining traction in terms of interest and desire. The stumbling blocks of price and weight (impacting transport) does halt riders in their tracks – for now. As the tech improves and costs come down it may be we start and see more eFoils at waterway locations. Only time will tell on this.

If you’re already a wing foiler and looking for something to aid your riding (and have access) then an eFoil in the mix when conditions aren’t tip top could be a way to enhance the fun. We’re not going to lie, it’s a tricky thing being able to control a wing and control an electric hydrofoil via the handheld, Bluetooth wireless controller. The throttle is super sensitive meaning a deft touch is needed. On top of which you need to consider foil ride height in relation to water state) and all those puffs of breeze coming at you like aerated bullets.

After a few runs, however, it can be picked up quite easily if you’ve got prior foiling skills in the mix. And we have it on good authority the lightweight, super controllable nature of the McConks Go Fly 5m wing helps things enormously. Whether levitated via the power of electricity or wind alone as soon as you have something like a wing flapping about behind you it does affect stability to a degree. But as we say it’s doable with the right gear.

Our rider in question’s using a 150L board for ample float. Those who’ve seen the McConks prototype eFoil may be intrigued about its eWing foil performance. We also asked the question the answer was that it’s too low volume for a 90kg rider to get into position (for the time being) in patchy breeze. Watch this space though as we know steps are being made to get over that plateau.

So, if you’re a wing foiler looking an additional form of propulsion to enjoy winging to the full maybe an electrically powered hydrofoil could be the answer. At the very least it’s some additional fun if you can get hold of the gear.

For further info on the McConks Go Fly 5m wing (and others in the range) hit up the relevant page here or give us a shout to discuss.

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The further adventures of Fenwick Ridley – Lux Magazine talks open water swimming, environmentalism and a bit of SUP.

Fenwick Ridley, ever the chap for getting in a bit of promo, recently was interviewed by Luxe Magazine about his open water swimming adventures, environmentalism work and general watery shenanigans. Oh, and if you look closely you’ll spot a couple of McConks stand up paddle boards in the mix.

What’s more, we think it’s great that Fenwick did the interview whilst actually out on the water with his ever faithful pooch Moona. Helping rid the river of plastic, there’s nothing like authenticity when speaking about your passions! Another of which being swimming and coaching others to do the same – via his H2oTrails business – in cold winter waters of lakes and river predominantly in the north of England.

You can read the full interview by hitting the following link – https://luxe-magazine.co.uk/2020/10/open-water-swimming/

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Relaxing – adventure SUP with plenty of chill time!

Adventure SUP can be anything that takes you on an adventure. It can be hardcore paddling, investing what’s round the next bend or simply heading off somewhere to pitch up and relax for a few hours. This was McConks head honch and family’s pathway of choice recently when they upped sticks and headed for the, er, sticks…

It was also a chance to put to the test some of the adventure SUP ‘solutions’ that Andy’s been messing about with for a while. Oh, and Mrs McConks the chance for a nice reclining cuppa. All this proves that with the right kit you don’t need to smash the miles or even smash yourselves when it comes to having a SUP adventure. Nobody cares if you’re giving it ‘Bear Grylls’. As long as it’s fun and fulfilling then that’s all that matters.

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Ahoy there shipmates! – eFoiling and yachting, perfect partners!

Anyone who owns a yacht (or yachties as they’re affectionately nicknamed) likes their toys. After all, that’s why you own a yacht, right? It’s also par for the course that many yachties also like to load up on extra toys for those all-important rest stops and recreational weighing of anchors. Once tied off there’s additional fun to be had to that of just sailing.

Over the last few years it’s been stand paddle boards that many boat owners have stocked up on, and you can see why (it’s still happening as well we might add!). Easily stowable on deck (or below), ripe for a bit of paddling fun having reached the destination in question, they’re a great yacht toy to have. But now there’s a new ‘toy’ that’s also a great fit for the yacht owner crowd…

As many regular McConks blog followers will know we’ve been putting a prototype electric foil through its paces. Yacht owners are one of a few ideal audiences who fit the eFoil buying demographic. Due to their compact nature eFoil boards, just like regular stand up paddle platforms, are easy to stow onboard. The foil itself is modular and therefore break down, again, making it easy to stash somewhere on or below deck. Having arrived at your chose spot it’s then a case of assembling and launching from the boat. Riders don’t need to be anywhere near popular beaches and, in fact, can be in quite deep water with the person’s yacht itself providing not only the launch pad but also a handy rescue boat in case assistance is needed (handy to have that as peace of mind).

With a yacht hard to access locations, at least on foot, can be made a beeline for. Then bust out the eFoil for a cruise around the locale and some additional watery fun. The easy transporting nature of eFoil gear makes it super attractive to anyone already owning a boat. And of course should yacht/eFoil owners want to take their toy elsewhere, away from their boat, then that’s possible. Unlike say a jetski, which requires a trailer, it couldn’t be easier transferring your eFoil to the car or van and heading off for further flights of fun.

If you’re a yacht, day boat or large vessel owner looking to stash some additional toys onboard for moored up laughs then give us a shout to talk about the McConks eFoil: the perfect complement to your yachting life.

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Situational changes and SUP’s healing hand…

Pic: @soulconnectionyogauk

There’s no question: life as it currently stands is extremely tricky. Particularly in light of recent announcements regarding restrictions where you may live. COVID has certainly proved, and continues to, make once simple pleasures all the more hard. This, as has also been widely broadcast, does have an impact on well being and mental health.

At time of writing (Oct 13, 2020) further halts have been placed on situations in certain parts of the country. You can’t lead the life you once did. But hopefully this will revert back soon. In the meantime, as we understand, you can still go for your daily round of exercise. If you’re a stand up paddle boarder then this should be welcome and much needed.

We talked about SUP‘s positive impact on mental health before. With life as it stands there’s definitely an outlet needed to restore some sort of calm and balance. Paddling in the outdoors and simply taking a moment whilst afloat can do wonders and help reset the brain. Winter, of course, can be a harder season to get wet but where there’s a will there’s a way. And it’d be encouraged to make use of opportune windows that open. You can even paddle at night, as we talked about in this article, with the right preparation and planning.

It’s a proven fact that exercise, no matter how small an amount, will boost those positive endorphins in your brain. Simply walking briskly for 20 minutes can help immensely. And if you can walk then why not jog? It therefore stands to reason that stand up paddle boarding will have similar effects. So when you can grab your paddle and head off for a blast; you’ll be glad you did.

By the looks of things this winter’s going to be arduous in some ways. Yet hopefully there’ll be time for a SUP sesh at points which should be taken advantage of. Make sure you’re equipped with the right gear, such as a decent wetsuit, boots and gloves, and you’ll be sorted for blade action whatever the weather. If stand up paddle boarding can help you cope with what’s going on in the world, and you’re able to get wet, then do it. We appreciate mental health issues are different for everyone, but if you’re able grab those SUP sessions when you can.

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Into the night – stand up paddle boarding in the dark.

Before we actually talk specifics it should be noted that paddling in the dark does carry slightly more risk than in daylight. As such you’ll need to be mindful of how you do things with an extra eye on safety. Don’t take unnecessary risks, plan things accordingly, and you should be fine.

With days getting shorter and, for some, opportunity to SUP much less (or at least that’s the perception) you may be forgiven for hanging up your paddle until spring. Clocks changing at the end of October and us losing more light and therefore time can be a depressing situation. But it doesn’t have to be. With prior planning and preparation there’s no reason you can’t score an after hours SUP session or two.

Paddling in darkness can be a strange thing at first but if you consider boats and marine vessels navigate at night there’s not really much difference other than you being atop a stand up paddle board. Confidence and skill play a big part. If you’re still at the falling off stage then maybe night SUPing isn’t for you yet. For anyone paddling comfortably, however, it’s more than doable.

Location choices versus the weather should be taken into consideration. Heading out into open tidal water when it’s blowing 30 knots offshore isn’t wise. Seeking shelter in a non-flowing canal will work far better. It may be that you have to wait it out until Mother Nature is feeling in a better mood but that’s OK.

We’ve talked before how reading forecasts is key to scoring decent stand up paddle boarding sessions. Getting fixated on the period you can SUP, and not taking account of the weather and what’s going on conditions wise isn’t the best course of action – especially with night paddling in mind. Just because you want to paddle at a set time and location doesn’t mean you have to. Waiting for appropriate windows is fair wiser.

If you can put in at locations where there’s increased ambient light then this is a good thing. For instance, the location in the accompanying pics is close to a bridge, where streetlights shine brightly, as well as having illuminated premises on the foreshore. This helps with navigation. Wearing a head torch can also help give your chosen paddling path some glow.

Don’t take risks. When/if night SUPing we’re talking about sticking to flat water only. It’s not the time to be hucking waterfalls or trying to ride waves. And definitely wear your leash! At this time of year it’s colder, obviously. Remember that when darkness falls temperatures also drop further so wearing the right attire is a must. If you layer up then removing garments if you get too hot is possible. But better to be warm rather than too cool.

Finally, tell someone where you’re going and what time you’ll plan and getting back. Carry a means of communication, such as mobile phone of VHF stowed in a waterproof pouch.

Paddling at night is a totally calming experience – almost meditative if you get it right. At the very least it’s one way of keeping your SUP sessions going through winter, even if you’re a time lacking sort.

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How to get up on your feet (and on foil) with the McConks Go Fly wing surfing/SUP/foil wing.

Pics: Oli Lane-Pierce

With breezy season now in full affect, and winds puffing across UK waters, autumn’s a prime time for learning something from the windy end of SUP’s spectrum. You could choose windSUP or even windsurfing – making use of the applicable McConks toys in our web shop. Alternatively, you may be drawn to these wing wang thingies that have everyone talking.

If you’re not aware then wings are a simple, hassle free way to make use of gusty days when a paddle just won’t cut the mustard. Assembled in minutes they fill with air as per your inflatable stand up paddle board and are ready to go quick smart. Then it’s a case of either going afloat with your wing and regular SUP or grabbing a foil board and taking to the air. In either situation the technique for getting up on your feet is the same. Here’s a run through of what you should be doing.

Flipping your wing.

Once you’re in deep enough water (how much will depend on whether you’re riding a board with hydrofoil attached or a regular SUP) you’ll need to flip the wing so the inflatable bladders rest on top of the water. To actually flip the Go Fly wing you need to get hold of one wingtip and rotate the wing away from where the wind’s coming from. This may take a bit of getting used to.

Getting ready to fly the wing.

You should have the wind on your back, then your board in front of you with the Go Fly wing lying on the downwind side of your platform. You can leave the wing to float whilst you get sorted although we prefer having the wing close to us and not having to reel it in with the wrist leash. Either way, your board (at least initially) should have enough float (volume and width) to allow you to get comfortable on your knees whilst you get sorted.

Climbing onboard and readying yourself.

Our method has the wing lying right on the rail of the board or sometimes even resting on the deck. Clamber up onto your SUP whilst keeping hold of the leading edge bladder for additional stability. As you improve you can keep hold of the wing‘s leading edge handle whilst you get in position.

Getting to your knees and flying the wing.

Once you’re stable the next thing is to kneel, looking in your direction of travel and fly the wing. Lift the wing above your head with the wing‘s leading edge handle. You can then reach down the middle strut with your backhand and take hold of a handle here. Pull in slightly with the back hand to gain some momentum. With forwards propulsion move your front hand to one of the middle strut handles and your back hand further back to find the wing‘s balance point.

The next bit can be tricky but will come with practice. Quickly shift from kneeling with your front leg to having your foot firmly on the board’s deck. A bit of shuffling may be needed to find the optimum position. Keep the wing high but powred by tugging with your back hand. Then in one swift movement shift all your weight onto the front leg and tuck your back leg up to bring your whole self to standing. Maintain a forward looking head and avoid feet gazing. Also, don’t lean outboard, instead try and maintain forward momentum and power in the wing. If you’re on a SUP then now’s the time to look upwind and where you want to go whilst weighting (slightly) the board’s windward rail to edge upwind.

Stand aloft and wing away.

Keep on tracking in the direction travel, heading upwind until you’re ready to turn around.

Time to wingfoilturn slightly downwind first.

If you’re on a board with a hydrofoil then the next step is getting to ride height. Depending on the strength of the wind will determine how much effort you’ll need to exert for this next part. If it’s light then you’ll need to pump harder. If it’s breezier then not so much.

Turn your board slightly away from the wind (downwind) a little. You do this by simply looking where you want to go. If there’s any kind of chop in the mix then aim to go with it also.

Pumping your wing and board onto foil.

In tandem, whilst keeping the wing high, pull down on the wing‘s handles and pumping up and down with your legs. You should be aiming to weight and unweight the board thereby allowing the foil to release. This needs to be timed with your wing pumping. Keep pointed away from the wind and use any chop or swell (if available) to aid speed and therefore lift.

Foiling lift off!

As the foil begins to lift transfer your weight to a front foot bias stance. Offsetting your feet can help when up and foiling. Keep an eye on the water state and sustaining an efficient ride height (but don’t gaze down) – not too high and not too low. If you over foil (cavitate) then kick the board and foil away from and accept your dunking. It’s then a case of beginning the whole process again.

A few notes on winging.

If you’re planning on riding McConks’ Go Fly wing on a SUP, and not foiling, then it’s worth using a board with a big fin and/or a centrally located type, such as a daggerboard, to aid upwind performance. This will help avoid the ‘walk of shame’ after you’ve drifted downwind.

Leashes, for both wing (a wrist leash) and board (surf, coiled or waist) are a must! There’re no hard and fast rules when it comes to leashes and what type you use. But definitely use them.

If learning to wing foil then do so away from others. Control at this point will be limited and you don’t want to hit anyone. Also, consider a buoyancy aid and/or impact vest and helmet. The rider in these pics has extensive foiling experience, although this doesn’t mean things won’t go wrong. They often can and do.

Happy wingin‘!

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Flat water SUP freestyle – improving your stand up paddle boarding skills in a fun way.

SUP freestyle’s definitely a thing. And you don’t need waves, moving river water or any other kind of conditions to do it. A millpond flat puddle will do just nicely (as long as you’ve got fin clearance!). If you want to improve your stand up paddle board game then ‘messing about’ and dabbling with a few SUP tricks will certainly help. Here’re a few ideas to get you started – with a bit of creativity who knows what moves you may come up with.

Pivot 360

Starting things off simply if you can already pivot turn 180 degrees then keeping it going to perform a 360 is the next step. The wider and more powerful your sweep stroke, combined with a high riding nose of your board, will see the spin happen faster. A 540 is then the next challenge.

One footed paddling

This isn’t as hard as it looks because you have your SUP paddle which acts as a sort of crutch. The tricky part is recovering your paddle for the next stroke and remaining balanced. Keep your head up and eyes forward to avoid dunkings.

Paddling backwards/fin first

If you can paddle it forwards why not pilot your SUP backwards? The nose will be a bit slippy, due to not having any deck grip there, but it’s more than doable and looks cool to boot.

Paddling your SUP upside down

There’s absolutely no functionality with this one. It’s simply something that’ll make you laugh – perhaps others too! Turning your stand up paddle board upside down and paddling it fin up isn’t especially hard, although you’ll need to be aware there’s no grip on the hull and it can get quite slippy. There are a few ways to get your board flipped. You can get in the water next to your iSUP and rock it over, or for those who really love a challenge, try paddling it and then almost performing a kickflip whereby you weight a rail and turn it upside down with you managing to land on the hull without taking a dunking. This is pretty hard and likely to get you wet!

Nose sink pivot turn

This one’s a more advanced version of the usual pivot turn, as performed by Ninja Nathan – one of the SUP instructors at Waterland Outdoor Activities. Rather than pivoting from the tail you sink the nose and pivot from there. It’s a slightly trickier move as there’s no fin to provide lateral resistance. It’s a bit like a pop shuvit skateboard trick, but done on flat water with no air time, obviously. It’s no less a crowd pleaser though!

Some tricks on the McConks go free board!! ???

Posted by Dan Stubbins on Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Be sure to let us see your SUP freestyle pics and tell us what moves of choice you favour.

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More McConks prototyping ahead of 2021′ SUP season.

We already posted this to the McConks Facebook page. But as we’re super excited about new 2021 stand up paddle boarding developments we’re shouting about it again. Not ones to sit on our laurels the McConks team is forever looking at new ideas, concepts and determining what’s viable. We’d love to be in a position where we could offer ALL the toys but sometimes that isn’t possible. Yet, an ever changing market, with different wants/needs for the consumer means we do need to keep on top of things.

To date we’ve already designed and sold a one off hard race SUP. And currently we’re doing our thing with a hard windSUP prototype. And then there’s this, which is being tweaked as we speak. Suffice to say we’re pretty excited about what could manifest. The outcome of this tinkering could prove to be extremely special.

A sneak peak at something we're working on in our spare time…Still need to finalise the transitions, smooth out some of the lines, and the build in the concaves in the hull, but it's coming along nicely.#flatwater25#gofaster#designed#UK#madeineurope #innovate#carbon#dugout#newfor2021

Posted by McConks on Saturday, October 3, 2020

Andy comments: ‘Still need to finalise the transitions, smooth out some of the lines, and the build in the concaves in the hull, but it’s coming along nicely.’ So, hands up if you’re interested!

Don’t forget to get in touch for 2021 season pre-order discounts if you’re a watersports club, coach or school that deals with either stand up paddling, windsurfing or both.

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McConks SUP: keeping things going through winter with Waterland Outdoor Activities.

Pic: Daniel James Pix

Winter is definitely looming with weather having mostly taken a tumble. But as we’ve said in other articles: just because it isn’t summer anymore doesn’t mean your stand up paddle boarding has to come to a grinding halt. In fact, far from it. With the correct water wear there’s absolutely no reason not to paddle during the off season – especially when things are this fun!

Waterland Outdoor Activites – friends of McConks SUP – are a case in point. Keeping on with stand up (at our local haunt no less – Lake32 at the Cotswold Water Park) the crew is loaning the McConks inflatable obstacles and a McConks Mega iSUP. Simply put: it doesn’t matter if the days are getting shorter and temperatures are becoming chillier. With fun like this on offer at SUP 32 Club (d’ya see what they did there?) there’s no reason not to indulge.

What are you doing to make winter a season of SUP fun?

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Winter SUP travel – if you could where would you go?

It hardly needs pointing out that travel is currently rather tricky due to the global pandemic going on. Even domestic trips are a little more headache inducing than they were. Yet autumn/winter is a time when many peeps get gone. Some choose to head for snow caped peaks while others tend to prefer sunnier climes. As the UK’s weather turns and Jack Frost begins to bite where would you be heading to get you warm water SUP fix? Here’re a few suggestions from our side.

Cornwall, England

Yep, we kick this off with a good ole UK location that’s been popular for donkey’s. Summer especially sees hordes of holidaymakers (2020 being a case in point) heading Kernow way. But off season sojourns to the first county in England (or is that the last?) can be supreme. Nailing it can means keeping an eye on forecasts and heading SW when a window opens. Even in winter sunny, warmer days can be snagged. And if you manage to score this with a pulse of offshore surf then we guarantee you’ll be smiling from ear to ear. The SUP touring/adventure options can be great as well.

The Canary Islands, Spain

Much like England the Canaries can be hit or miss with winter sun, albeit always in a slightly warmer vein. Being in close proximity to Blighty means traditionally when a weather break appears it was pretty simple to hop on a plane and head across to Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Tenerife or one of the less known isles. Whilst the archipelago does get its fair share of warmer off season weather the islands boast some stunning surfing action with flat water SUP options being also rather good. Each island has its own personality so it’s a case of choosing which suits you best.

Maui, Hawaii

Perhaps Maui is on your bucket list? If you didn’t already know this is where stand up paddle boarding in modern form hails from. It doesn’t stop there though. The ‘Valley Isle’ is a true watersports’ lovers playground with endless options for getting wet atop whatever craft you feel inclined. The culture is more laid back that the Big Island, and in large parts typically Polynesian. If you’ve never been it’s well worth the long trek but be warned: you may never want to leave!

Barbados, West Indies

One of the more densely populated West Indian islands Barbados never the less is a ‘go to’ destination for surfing, SUP, windsurfing and kitesurfing for many looking to escape the UK winter. With challenging but doable conditions it’s typifies the Caribbean experience with plenty of Rasta culture and Carib vibes in effect. The Caribbean Sea side of the island boasts bubblegum blue waters and a cosmopolitan feel whilst the rugged Atlantic facing coast is much more mellow and somewhere you can get lost for a few weeks but still indulge in a spot of SUP.

The Hebrides, Scotland

For our last location we’re bringing it back to this neck of the woods. For many the Hebridean islands are paradise personified. While not quite as warm as the already mentioned Caribbean its vistas, natural colours and light can rival the Tropics without question. White sandy beaches, azure seas, cobalt coloured coves and stunning green rolling hills/mountainsd leave many in awe. It’s also an awesome destination for stand up paddle boarding – whatever your flavour of SUP.

Where’s your favourite stand up paddle board location?

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How to repair an inflatable stand up paddle board puncture.

Unfortunately mishaps do occur and possibly at some point your beloved inflatable stand up paddle board will pick up a nick causing a small puncture to occur. But fear not as repairing an iSUP is pretty easy. You board should come with a puncture repair kit as standard so you’ll have the majority of tools needed to complete the job in hand. You’ll need to grab a spatula and hairdryer with possibly some sandpaper as well.

Inflate your board so it has some air pressure. Then grab yourself some soapy water and sponge. Rub the water on your board and watch for bubbles appearing as air escapes to locate where the hole is.

Dry the area off but make sure you remember where the damage is. Marking lightly with a pen’s a good way to ensure this.

Once the damaged area’s dry take the sandpaper and gently scuff the zone to create a key – but don’t be too overzealous here. You’ll also want to do the same with the patch you’re applying. All good repair kits will have a number of patches, sandpaper, glue and a valve tool – the latter you won’t need though.

Next up deflate the board fully and completely dry off the board. If you need to leave it until all moisture has gone then done so.

Masking tape the area around the hole so the glue doesn’t go everywhere. Apply glue liberally with a paintbrush to the board and use a hairdryer to semi-dry the liquid before placing the patch over the hole. Use a spatula to get rid of any air bubbles. The patch should be equidistant from the hole in all directions.

As the patch dries you can use the hairdryer once more to further aid drying. Then leave for a few hours.

All in fixing a inflatable stand up paddle board hole is straightforward as long as you don’t rush it.

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McConks eFoil set up guide – preparing for first flights.

Anyone beady eyed will have noticed of late we’ve been testing a McConks electric hydrofoil prototype. Whilst this might not be for everyone it’s certainly pricked a great deal of interest. If you’re looking to get into eFoiling with the McConks electric hydrofoil board then here’s a handy set up guide that’ll allow you to take those first tentative steps with ease. You can refer back to this article or download the attached PDF document at the bottom.

McConks eFoil set up guide, basic safety considerations and pre-flight checks.

McConks’s eFoil set up, comprising of board, electric hydrofoil, Lithium Ion battery and handheld, wireless Bluetooth trigger throttle is as plug and play as you can get. There are, however, a few things to consider before going afloat and getting those first flights.

Be aware that any kind of hydrofoil activity, but especially electrically powered foiling, carries a degree of risk to you and others.

Pre-flight checks – eFoil safety

DON’T EFOIL CLOSE TO OTHERS! MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PLENTY OF SPACE TO LEARN AND PROGRESS. WHEN YOU WIPEOUT THE EFOIL WILL TRAVEL QUITE A DISTANCE. IT DOES HAVE AN AUTO-OFF FAIL SAFE BUT YOU NEED TO HAVE PLENTY OF ROOM.

Choose a sheltered location, preferably with minimal tide, current, swell and wind activity. IF YOU HAVE TO WAIT FOR APPROPRIATE WEATHER CONDITIONS THEN DO SO!

Wear a helmet, impact vest/buoyancy aid, wetsuit and possibly boots in case of accidentally kicking the foil.

Make sure your chosen location has deep enough water and is free of obstacles such as rocks, mooring buoys and similar. AVOID BUSY SHIPPING LANES IF ON THE OPEN SEA.

Check to see what local laws, guidelines and legislation is in effect for powered craft. If you need to inform authorities of your intended activities then do so.

Pre-flight checks – battery, throttle controller and foil inspection

Ensure the battery is fully charged. All green LEDs should be illuminated following a two hour charge. Switching the battery on before connection will tell you how much power the battery has.

Check your throttle control is fully charged. This is done via a wireless charging pad included. Holding the righthand palm grip button down more than two seconds will switch it on. The battery metre should be full. Squeezing the front trigger should increase % of throttle whilst the top brake lever brings it down to zero. Make sure everything looks good to go BEFORE going afloat.

The included throttle control trigger has three speed settings – USE THEM! SP1 is 0-100% and can’t be changed, SP2 and SP3 can be set according to rider skill, weight and experience. We’d recommended setting SP2 at 30% and using this first. 30% throttle should give the board enough momentum for riders to get the feel of the eFoil moving forward. Agile pilots may be able to get to their feet and ride the equipment without it flying. This is good practise with learning how to direct and turn the board. SP3 should be set at 70%. When you’re ready to fly hold the break lever down for a few seconds will see the throttle screen change the setting. At 70% a 90kg can easily lift onto foil once standing. Getting familiar with the sensitivity of the throttle control is essential.

Check this video for how to access the throttle control interface and change its settings –

Check your foil connections. Ensure the bolt connectors are tight and not likely to come loose. You should coat all screw threads with Tef-Gel to fend off saltwater corrosion. This should be done before setting the foil up.

Slot the Lithium Ion battery into its deck hold and connect to the motor. Then connect leads to their corresponding, colour coded plugs. If you’ve already gotten a session under your belt make sure the connectors are moisture free. Water will get into the hatch.

Switch your battery on and make sure the controller and battery are paired. This should happen automatically. If for any reason you need to unpair the controller and complete the exercise again then refer to the video above.

Check the controller works by squeezing the trigger gently on land. The eFoil’s propeller should kick into action. WARNING: don’t do this for too long as you can damage the eFoil when not in water.

IF YOU NEED TO INSPECT THE FOIL PROPELLER MANUALLY THEN MAKE SURE EVERYTHING IS SWITCHED OFF. THE PROP WILL EASILY REMOVE FINGERS AND THUMBS!

Ensure the eFoil’s battery hatch is shut and secured properly via the hatch screw discs. These should be tightened with your fingers.

Before launching check one final time the throttle and prop are paired by squeezing the trigger quickly.

Throttle recalibration and leashes

If you should fall the eFoil with automatically shut down and disconnect from the Bluetooth controller. Likewise, if you hold the throttle trigger under the water the eFoil won’t power up. The Bluetooth sensor is located in the nose of the board. You need to have this out of the water slightly following a wipeout. Weigh the tail of the board whilst sitting and wait a few seconds until the throttle control display shows a connection. You can then begin again.

When you wipeout riders ideally need to jump/fall clear of the equipment. Having a leash is therefore unsafe as it keeps the rider close to the board and foil. We recommend a leash therefore not be worn during first flights.

Advanced riders, who head out in more challenging conditions, however, may choose to use one. Extra care should be taken if this is your choice. A coiled leash will be the preferred option. There’s no specific leash fixing plug so it’ll need connection to one of the deck mounted handles.

Safety whilst learning to eFoil

Start slowly and build up to fully elevated, foiling flights.

Make sure you’re on the board in prone position BEFORE squeezing the throttle trigger.

KEEP YOUR FEET AWAY FROM THE FOIL!

Don’t ride too shallow and be aware at all times of changing weather, water conditions and users in the vicinity. If you have to stop your session for safety reasons then do so.

If you can get a lesson before going it alone then do so.

Any further questions about the McConks eFoil please get in contact with us at McConks HQ.

Donwload the McConks eFoil set up guide here –

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Summer’s over. Bring on Autumn SUP

Summer’s over. Bring on Autumn SUP

So that’s it. Summer is really over now. How can we tell? Because lake 86 is closed until Easter 2021 – and that’s our signal that summer has indeed ended. It didn’t feel like it was time to close in the mid afternoon last Sunday. Water temp was still 18 degrees, air temp was still 20 degrees (in the sun!), and it still felt like summer. But by later afternoon, it was chilly, and feeling less like summer.

It’s been a really strange year for hire and launch businesses (well – for everyone really), and businesses that have done well this year, have needed effort, planning, flexibility, adaptiveness, invention, humour, professionalism and interpretation to make this year work. Luckily, Cotswold Water Park Hire have got all of those skills in buckets (1).

Massive thanks to the guys and gals there this year. As always, Tom and Josh assembled a friendly and fun team, who are able to deal with whatever gets thrown at them, at them. And they have the patience of angels. More than once have we turned up unannounced to drop off a board or paddle for someone to collect, or given them 30 minutes notice of paddlers coming to demo a board. All dealt with an eye roll and a smile 😉

But this year deserves a little more thanks than normal. During early phases of lockdown easing, we were lucky enough to be invited to use the lake before it was open for launch or hire. That was a massive privilege, and gave us a huge mental health boost just when it was needed – which was why Tom and Josh offered it. They knew how important water time was to our lives, and very generously made it happen. It was such a strange time. We were elated, we wanted to share photos of how great it made us feel, and what an amazing time we were having. But at the same time we were really aware how lucky we were, and how others weren’t as lucky. We didn’t want to a) brag, b) make it difficult for the Lake 86 whilst they were figuring out how to make launch safe for them to open.

But it was really appreciated, and we’ve created a gallery of photos taken this spring and summer. Turns out, we took a lot less photos than other years. And we think that’s because this year was all about enjoying the opportunities you get, rather than recording them for others to see. And maybe something to do with phones drowning as well 😉

We finished off the year with our only Mega board session of the year, but what a mega session it was!

So does SUP stop at the end of summer?

Of course it doesn’t. And never have wee need to keep outdoor activities going as much as this year. It’s going to be a long, worrying and hard winter for lots of us, so the longer we can keep paddling, keep laughing, keep socialising, the better for all of our mental health.

Lake 32 – Waterland Outdoor Activities is one answer (2). You can get winter membership for just £80, and they’re open Wed – Sun throughout the winter. There’s a even a cafe for warm drinks. New team member and SUP fanatic Dan has set up a SUP Club which will run through winter, on Thursday evenings (while its still light enough) and Saturday mornings. And maybe the odd sunrise paddle as well. Lots of fun stuff is planned, including mega board play, inflatable SUP obstacles, SUP polo, charity fancy dress events, and, maybe even some skills training.

They’re also going to act as a demo centre for us over the winter period, so if you want to demo our SUP boards, paddles or wings, Lake 32 is the destination of choice. And you never know, maybe even our eFoils.

Some tricks on the McConks go free board!! ???

Posted by Dan Stubbins on Wednesday, September 30, 2020

(1) Sometimes, they even got them out of the buckets to use them

(2) we’ve focussed on our locality here. But there are also other options close to us. Happiest When Outdoors, Rapid Skills, Social SUP, SUP Stroud, SUP bath, SUP YOFI, SUP FOD are all local instructors/groups. Keep your eyes peeled for another post soon!

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McConks’ stand up paddle boarding bitesize travel guides: Abingdon-on-Thames river tributary, Oxfordshire.

Location:

Abingdon-on-Thames river tributary, Oxfordshire.

Spot type:

Inland, sheltered tributary of the Thames with a small weir running under a bridge.

Conditions:

A low to medium flow river spot with a small standing wave that’s created as the water cascade down an incline under a ye olde bridge. For anyone looking to get into white water SUP this is a spot that’s perfect for those first steps.

Hazards:

The river is shallow right next to bridge with the bottom being only mm deep where the flow tumbles under the stones. There’s a slight bit of tow back caused by recirculating water but ultimately you will get spat out downstream. Some overhanging tree branches and river shrubbery need to be avoided. The trail leading to the put in is nettle filled and overgrown so booties a must!

Access:

Access to this small nook off the main River Thames is via tiny siding where you can park up. There not much room for more than three cars and with plenty of ramblers/walkers using the trail you don’t want to box anyone in so park coutesously.

Popularity (1-10):

White water river SUP is still very under radar so you’ll mostly be paddling here alone or if you run into UK WW SUP pioneer Dave Adams (aka Wavecloud) you could have company. This is his spot, as it were, but Dave’s friendly and will be happy to show you the ropes.

Amenities:

No amenities on site but there’s a small village back along the main road and Oxford itself isn’t too far away. Should you get into difficulties, however, you need to have a backup paln.

Overview:

Proper medieval middle England this Thames River tributary in Abingdon is a secluded hideaway for SUPers who enjoy peace and quiet. There’re a multitude of other put ins around the area, from flat water to full on high volume whitewater when flows are high. This mellow standing wave is caused by water flowing under a bridge and creating a hydraulic at the bottom. There’s an eddy off to the right where you can take a breather and another across on the opposite bank. Water current boosts straight downstream so whilst the standing wave itself is pretty safe you’ll still end up going for a float should you wipeout. For anyone looking to up their stand up paddle board game and try a bit of river surfing, however, this is a great location to dabble a blade and check it out. You may become addicted…

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Fixtures, fittings and fins – standardisation frustrations within SUP.

For the most part, what you purchase as part of an inflatable stand up paddle board package is the same whatever brand you plump for. Board, paddle, pump, bag, fins and maybe a few accessories like waterproof phone pouch. Yet look closer and things aren’t always as they the same. A wise person once said it’s the details that matter…

As an example fin fittings are all very different. If you take the centrally located fin there are a whole host of varied types you can get depending on the company in question. The single screw, front pin US box is still very much the most popular but there are others out there. This can make swapping out and trying different ones a headache if your fin (or fins) don’t match what’s available.

We get it…Whatever product you purchase these days brands want to tie you in. You only have to look at smartphones to see this. For Android users Android apps are only compatible. Some clever Dick may have developed a bypass app which allows you to use Apple products but you won’t get the same level of functionality or features. It’s the same with SUP. Buy from brand A and chances are you’ll be tied in. If it’s a particularly premium SUP company then unfortunately their addon SUP accessories are probably priced similarly.

Whichever SUP you plan on owning it’s worth doing your research beforehand. If you have even the slightest inclination of changing things like SUP fins then make sure you’re aware of what type your board of choice has. Then you can identify if there’re this style available readily.

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Is being a SUP pro (and getting sponsored) still a thing?

Back in the day when SUP‘s renaissance first started taking shape there was a mass clambering to (literally) get on board with stand up. Hailed as the fastest growing watersport every man and his dog wanted a slice of the pie – not too dissimilar to 2020 (apart from the lack of Covid!). Stand up paddle boarding, however, was a different beast back then. Whilst the elements that make up performance SUP are still there less emphasis is placed on being a ‘SUP athlete’ and competing.

Of course, there are still those who want to pit their wits and skills against others in a SUP race environment or surfing arena. If you subscribe to this then that route’s certainly an option. What is significantly different, however, are the lack of so called ‘team riders’ in SUP and sponsored/supported paddlers – at least within the UK scene.

Pre-2010 and up until a few years back team riders were everywhere. Mainly put in place to do a job – i.e. promote the brand’s product they happen to be riding. Social media streams are prime outlet for this kind of thing. And before you knew it every FB group you looked at had some kind of team rider spouting how the kit he/she was using is the best. But you can bet if a better offer came along said paddler would instantly change their tune in a heartbeat.

In 2020 team riders and sponsored SUP athletes are still in the mix but there’s less of them. This has gone hand in hand with stand up’s shift to a more recreational activity and focus. Not many SUPers want to smash out the miles on a racecourse or do battle with Neptune’s Revenge in heavy surf environments. Instead SUP has relaxed to the pace of the everyman/woman where all paddlers are free to participate at their own pace in whichever scenario they choose.

McConks has never had team riders per se. We have a few trusted friends who are happy to use our products but that’s about it. And we have to say stand up paddle boarding is all the better for it. What do you think?

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Carolyn Smith’s Barford to Boston (Lincs) 32m SUP challenge nears…

Carolyn Smith and Phil May (from Yellowbelly SUP School), as we’ve talked about before, is planning on completing a mammoth stand up paddle board journey (in aid of charity) from Barford to Boston in Lincolnshire. Sept 28, 2020 marks the date when Carolyn and Phil are due to set off.

Covering 32 miles this is no mean feat for Carolyn who has a terminal illness that sees her having to paddle with care. That said we know the lady is extremely determined so one way or another will surely complete the distance.

Here at McConks we wish her well in claiming victory. If you want to follow Carolyn’s progress you can do so via her FB page: Ramblings of a Broken Hiker or via the following tracker link –

https://www.facebook.com/ramblingsofabrokenhiker

https://track.trail.live/event/lincoln-to-boston

Finally, if you fancy donating then you can do so by hitting this –

https://www.justgiving.com/team/yellowbellySUPers

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New product alert! – Updated McConks Go Anywhere range.

We don’t like to update our stand up paddle boards willy nilly like a lot of the SUP industry do. This doesn’t fit with our commitment to sustainability, and we just don’t agree with it. That said, every so often we do feel to tweak things slightly and bring McConks products more up to date – even if that’s only subtle changes. Were not looking for out and out paddling performance changes that’s for sure.

With this in mind our ever popular Go Anywhere inflatable stand up paddle boards have been give an overhaul and we’re pleased with the results. We’ve already posted on social media about these changes so we won’t labour the point here. Suffice to say why not head across to our Facebook post and join the discussion.

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Outrigger canoe (OC) and prone paddle boarding – two SUP spin offs that’re worth a look.

Now don’t get us wrong: we love stand up paddle boarding and everything that goes with it. SUP, however, is certainly responsible for broadening minds, as can be seen by McConks’ diverse range of products. For paddling purists though there’re two paddle sports that are directly compatible with standing and swinging a blade. If you’re looking for a complementary discipline then perhaps one of the following will prick your interest.

Prone paddle boarding

Long before SUP paddling oversized boards was already a thing, albeit with your arms rather than a paddle. Plus, when proning you’re lying down, nose to the deck, and atop much narrower platforms. Because of these reduced dimensions prone paddle boards are very quick. In the right hands they’re actually way more rapid than SUPs. And pronies are also super efficient when chasing bumps downwind style.

Many surfers have used prone paddle boarding to stay fit during bouts of no waves. The action of paddling with your arms, obviously, being exactly the same as piloting a surfboard out back. In the UK there’s a small scene of dedicated enthusiasts, some of whom also switch between stand up paddle and lying down on the job.

One of the most noted prone paddling athletes is Australia’s Jamie ‘Mitcho’ Mitchell who’s won more M2O championships than we’ve had hot dinners. Totally underrated Mitcho is one of the world’s most incredibly gifted paddlers, but many aren’t aware who he is. He’s also a pretty gnarly big wave surfer!

Outrigger canoeing (OC)

OC paddling comes in many forms with teams and individual paddle swingers alike. Noted for it’s side mounted float (the ama) can used for additional stability or lifted entirely for even smoother running on flat water or bumps accordingly. Many OC paddlers adore downwinding as the rounded hull of an OC is suitably efficient for a spot of ‘drift surfing’. It’s also the rounded shape of the OC that can make driving these craft tricky at first.

Back in the days, pre-2010, when SUP‘s renaissance came about following Laird and co’s tinkering, a good many OC paddle makers/manufacturers were the go to oracles for SUP paddle shapes and info – the synergy is undisputable. The biomechanics of paddling an outrigger is similar to SUP paddling. Hence many OC athletes straddled the two disciplines. If you want to know more about these athletes then Google the likes of Danny Ching and Travis Grant, both of whom absolutely smash it on the OC/SUP racing circuits.

For anyone with their interest pricked have a quick sniff around the internet to find out more info about prone and ourigger canoe paddling. Let us know how you get on.

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McConks’ Go Anywhere 10’6 iSUP to feature in Men’s Health UK magazine!

We’re pretty stoked about this as you can imagine. For anyone in the know our feelings about ‘paid for SUP media reviews – whereby the publication in question asks for advertising support for equipment reviews – is something we feel strongly about. After all, if you’re searching for impartial opinion how can this be the case when you’re being asked for money in return for a test report. It’s hardly going to be unbiased as the publication isn’t going to slate the gear in fear of said advertising bill not being paid and disappearing all together.

Therefore when Men’s Health UK magazine contacted us out of the blue to ask if we’d consider sending them a McConks Go Anywhere 10’6 inflatable stand up paddle board with no commitment needed on our part we obviously jumped at the chance.

We’ll not bang on about the health benefits of SUP and why being featured in such a magazine is great. SUP‘s benefits are widely reported – that’s one of the reasons you all participate. It’ll be interesting to see the actual write up so watch this space. We’ll let you know as soon as we do!

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McConks eFoil prototype testing continued – more insight to electrically powered flight.

Yesterday saw more testing of the McConks eFoil prototype in idyllic sunny, flat water conditions which were perfect. Having now got to grips (literally) with the handheld throttle trigger the act of powering up on foil is a simple act. As long as you keep enough momentum to shuffle to knees before getting to feet then it’s not too difficult – at least, if you have foiling experience. And even without we can see it not taking too much longer to actually gain those skills.

Once up and riding there’s a bit of testing foot placements to find the optimum. Having completed this it’s then a case of employing subtle movements of the head, shoulders and trunk to keep level. Riders will need to be aware of jerky, overzealous, itchy trigger fingers on the throttle. Fortunately you can set the % level to not be too boosty. But suddenly letting the trigger off results in the foil stopping dead and the rider in question exiting stage left (or right) – which is quite comedy to those watching. Stay tuned for more of an in-depth guide to eFoiling coming soon.

If you’re interested to see how the McConks eFoil prototype rides then check out the video below.

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Get some SUP ahead of October half term – (some) McConks boards still in stock…

It might seem like only recently kids went back to school but October, and therefore October half terms, is edging ever closer. That means there’ll be some time for SUP still left before winter proper kicks in. For anyone not already owning their own equipment and considering a purchase McConks still has some boards, paddles and accessories in stock.

11’4 (a small number left), 10’6 & 10’8 (a handful available). Brand new 9’8 Go Free crossover boards – perfect for paddling and wing if you feel like making the most of autumn winds. These are super stable, given their size, and perfect for surfing, learning to wing SUP and paddling on flat water.

Have a look at McConks’s other products also, such as the Go Sail inflatable windsurf sail – a great way to get on the water – plus all the paddles and accessories that are there to help with your SUP life. As always, if you have any queries then give us a shout on email, messenger or phone. We’re only happy to help you round out 2020 in style.

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McConks’ stand up paddle boarding bitesize travel guides: Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight.

Location:

Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight

Spot type:

Open water, tidal reef spot with two very distinct faces depending on wave conditions.

Conditions:

When there’s zero to little ground swell (or low winds) Freshwater Bay offers a dramatic flat water SUP location where paddlers can get lost looking down into clear water’s at the rocky bottom below. The bay’s iconic rock stack to the left, makes Freshwater instantly recognisable. With solid swell in the mix Fresh turns into one of the best right hand point breaks on the south coast – but not for the inexperienced. The high tide shore dump alone is pretty hefty!

Hazards:

Rocks, reef and sharp bits generally epitomise the Freshwater Bay paddling experience. When it’s calm and still there’s no issue, however. Just be aware if attempting to surf here. Know where there juts of hard lumps are as you’ll be taking waves in close proximity. Rips can be a hassle as can a packed line up when there’s surf, with a small take off, which only add to the fun. Waves do also break off the foot of Freshy’s stack but it’s even shallower here at certain states of tide with some rock heads sucking dry. Boats also command access so watch out.

Access:

Parking is directly across the road from the beach and is pretty standard fayre. It’s then an easy hop and skip until you end up on the fine shingle.  

Popularity (1-10):

As a general beach Freshwater Bay isn’t that popular as it goes. It does get visitors but even during high season the main bulk of those on the sand/shingle are locals. If there’s surf the water can get busy.

Amenities:

Back into Freshwater village you’ll find a supermarket and other assorted shops, restaurants and pubs. There’s plenty within striking distance as this is a small island after all. In fact, heading back to the Isle of Wight’s capital Newport is fairly rapid. Toilet facilities, a hotel and a selection of other accommodations are available at Freshwater Bay itself.

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Overview:

Freshwater Bay really is a chameleon spot. When a solid groundswell pulses up the English Channel Freshy’s geography means it’s a spot that picks up a large helping of all that juice. Usually in winter you’ll get some days which are pretty serious. Overhead waves reel down the reef quick smart making for an exhilarating ride and/or some decent beatings. If riding reef isn’t your bag then steer clear. The shore pound at the very least will make entry and exits ‘fun’. During calmer periods Freshwater Bay is an excellent touring spot that gives some dramatic vistas from the water. The cliffs to the right, which if you continue along will lead you to The Needles, or Freshy’s iconic stack, leading to the ever popular Compton beach further along the coast make Freshwater Bay a good place to begin your journey –  know the lie of the land, tide times and weathr conditions if you plan on long distance paddling though. An abundance of put in options are to be found all along the Isle of Wight’s coastline, depending what you’re after and your skill level.

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McConks’ stand up paddle boarding bitesize travel guides: Harlyn Bay, Cornwall.

Location:

Harlyn Bay, Cornwall

Spot type:

North facing, open water, tidal location with plenty of wave action.

Conditions:

Harlyn’s geography means it doesn’t pick up the same amount of swell as more westerly facing beaches surrounding. This is both a blessing and a curse. When swell’s small, it’s pretty titchy, which mightn’t be that attractive to the hardened wave warrior. If the rest of the surrounding Cornish gets huge and blow out, however, Harlyn really comes into its own offering shelter and offshores with some seriously punchy walls. The issue is every man and his dog knows this and surfers head to Harlyn from miles around when their local is a whitewashed mess. It’s a rippy, hollow and heavy wave over 2ft but the paddle out can often be dry hair and short.

Hazards:

There’s a small river ever flowing into the sea which you’ll need to navigate to actually access the main beach. A few rocks dot the shoreline that need to be taken into account. And the rips Harlyn can throw up are worth keeping in mind. With a decent swell the wave can be sucky, punchy and heavy resembling in some instances a shore dump rather than a wave. It’ll snap boards easily. Other water users need to be kept clear of during busy times.

Access:

Parking is either in the main car park next to Harlyn or across the small country lane in the adjacent field. It gets rammed in summer so be there early if you’re planning a trip during silly season. Both car parks can also be muddy if it’s been raining.

Popularity (1-10):

When the surf’s big and blown out at W facing beaches there’ll be every surfer from miles around making a beeline for Harlyn. And in summer, during warmer weather and school holidays, you’ll never be alone. Out of season on smaller swells it’s a lot more peaceful and mellow with fewer people on the beach and in the water.

Amenities:

The Harlyn Inn is right across the country road from Harlyn’s main beach and access point. It offers food and beverage choices with a number of rooms to make use of. There’s an attached beach shop and toilet facilities. Padstow is a short drive away where you’ll find abundant shops, eateries and every other kind of convenience you need. In the opposite direction is Constantine (another popular North Cornwall surfing haunt) with its own microcosm of amenities.

Overview:

Harlyn Bay is an idyllic white sand beach that typifies the North Cornwall experience. Its azure coloured water, that glistens on sunny days, are begging you to get wet. And during a large part of the season Harlyn offers small to medium, mellow sized waves. When swells ramp up, however, Harlyn can be a fast and challenging spot that delivers a punch in the face close out or fast gunny wall to carve a few turns on. If it’s big and blowy out west then here’s where you’ll find shelter and an offshore. But everyone knows this and therefore Harlyn can get crowded out. There are a few other possibly quieter options in the vicinity, not that far away, but quality of wave can sometimes be lacking. That said Harlyn can be a dream SUP set up when it works and is definitely worth a look. The vibe of the place during quieter periods resemble a throwback to those lost, innocent times before smart phones and surf forecasting websites were a thing. And if you luck out with a flat, calm, windless weather window then SUP touring options can be idyllic.

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New product alert! 9’8 Go Free wingsurf/surf/SUP crossover board now available.

Here at McConks we’re always evolving and developing our range of products. As many will know one of the big things in watersports at the moment are wings – more specifically wing foiling, albeit with a smaller push on the wing surfing/SUP, non-foiling side of the discipline. And it’s the latter where the McConks 9’8 Go Free strapless wing/SUP crossover board comes in.

With similar trait to our previous Go Free designs in wing surf/SUP mode the idea is to use the provided upright freeride fin in breezy conditions. With enough power it lifts from here and gets quite a wriggle on. The hard rubber release edge on the tail further aids efficient forwards propulsion for those who fancy zipping along. Pair the 9’8 with McConks’ Go Fly wing and you’ve got a killer combo.

For those who still want to paddle in conventional SUP form have no fear. It’s still very much possible to be a stand up paddle boarder atop the Go Free 9’8. Simply swap out the freeride fin and you have an extremely agile and nimble platform for river SUPing, surf SUP and it even does OK on the flat.

Hit the following link for more info on the McConks 9’8 Go Free or get in touch with any questions – https://mcconks.com/shop/inflatable-sup-stand-up-paddle/wing-boards/mcconks-98-go-free-2020-crossover-wingsurf-surf-board/

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McConks’ stand up paddle boarding bitesize travel guides: Widemouth Bay, Bude, Cornwall.

Location:

Widemouth Bay, Bude, Cornwall

Spot type:

Open water, tidal location featuring small to large surf depending on conditions.

Conditions:

Widemouth Bay is an Atlantic facing spot so expect sizable waves at times with the odd day of completely flat water conditions. It’s an exposed beach that has a variety of features making for a changing picture through the tide cycle.

Hazards:

Widemouth Bay isn’t that big a beach really, and is in fact made up of a few different areas – mainly rocky (apart from the actual sandy beach itself) from left to right. The rocks are typically Cornish in geology – slanted scars cut from years of storm, surf and water activity jutting out to sea. In places small stacks of rock vault skywards, the largest and most imposing of which is Black Rock which protrudes to the left – you can’t miss it. Rips can occur at any time but tend to be at their strongest around low water. Other water users can make Widemouth a particularly busy location. The other thing to be aware of is possible landslides if you take a walk along beach around the Black Rock area where the cliffs hem in closer to the beach.

Access:

Widemouth boasts easy access via the main car park just off the coast road. It’s then a short hop down the steps to the water’s edge. At low tide it can be a trek with heavy SUPs, however – this is Cornwall after all.

Popularity (1-10):

Popularity of Widemouth Bay can vary greatly, depending how in favour the beach is. Obviously, with good surf in the mix, you’ll get a crowd. Being a stone’s throw from Bude town means there’s a large local contingent of surfers all frothing for a wave or three. Plus, Widemouth itself (considering its small village feel) has a large crew of wave riders living in close proximity. And a number of surf schools use the beach for lessons during high season.

Amenities:

A couple of cafes and beach shops can be found right on the beach at Widemouth, as can public toilet facilities. There are a few accommodation options dotted along the coast road for anyone wanting to stay right at the spot. Back into Bude you’ll find plenty of pubs, nightclubs, restaurants cafes, fish ‘n’ chip shops, takeaways and surf shops. Bude also has two other town beaches – Crooklets and Summerleaze – as well as a placid canal and river with some flow, both of which can also be good for a spot of SUP.

Overview:

Being so close to Bude you’d expect Widemouth to be a super popular spot. And whilst that’s certainly true at times you may luck out and score the place on a much quieter day. Widemouth seems to ebb and flow in popularity like the tide. The beach itself is mostly sand with a few scattered pebbles at high water. It’s worth scoping the place at low tide, however, to identify where the rocks/reef are. Dominated by the imposing Black Rock stack to the left these reefs are actually ridable (for the experienced) at the right stage of tide. In fact, Wanson, as far left as you can go (under the cliff with the Outdoor Adventure Centre perched atop) can be world class on its day. But not for the feint hearted. Widemouth’s wave, in contrast, is much mellower – fatter at high tide and slightly hollower at low. The whitewater on big days can be intimidating and a mission to get through. It might be worth sitting it out when conditions like this materialise. If the sea goes flat then a few touring routes are there for the taking, the most obvious being along the (mostly inaccessible by foot) cliffs back towards Bude. And further afield you’ll discover a whole load more options, from reef to beach, that work on a variety of swell, tide and wind conditions.

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Seals and SUPs – Yellowbelly SUP School’s viral close encounter.

Shared thousands of times via the power of social media, as well as being aired on local BBC News, Phil May (from Yellowbelly SUP School) and his students didn’t expect a nosy to seal to make its appearance during a recent SUP lesson and the subsequent video to then go viral. And they certainly didn’t expect the animal to be so bold as to get aboard two of the stand up paddle boards for a closer sniff.

You can see the alarm from one of Phil’s pupils who at first is slightly taken aback by the seal’s actions. But it soon becomes apparent the creature is friendly and just wants to play. Stand up paddle boarding brings riders much closer to nature, which is evident from the video. We’re not suggesting every paddler will have such an experience but still, there’s plenty of opportunity to observe and become immersed in your natural surroundings. And that in its own right is worth standing atop a board and paddling.

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Indian summer, sunny autumn, bright winter – McConk spolarised floating bamboo sunglasses for all off season occasions.

The UK’s currently experiencing a lovely spell of Indian summer weather, by and large, that’s perfect for stand up paddle boarding. High mercury levels and warm waters definitely deliver inspiration to get amongst it. It’s also much quieter at this time of year – on the water and off – with schools back in operation and parents at the cool face. If you can sneak out for a float, even if you’re one of those at the coal face (work), then you definitely should.

We’ve talked about adequate protection for you body in various articles this summer but your eyes can also take a beating from harmful UV sunshine rays if you don’t cover these. Over time the sun will do damage to peepers just as it will skin. Fortunately McConks’ bamboo, floating polarised sunglasses are a great solution – whether out SUPing or going about your business on land. They look fab but also serve a purpose for fending off the bright light.

No don’t get us wrong, we’re not suggesting you wear a pair of McConks sunglasses for the more performance end of SUP, where you’re more likely to fall and lose them (SUP surfing for instance). But on flatter water where dunkings are less likely they fit the bill perfectly. And just as the title suggests sunglasses aren’t just for summer: they work great at other times of year when bluebird conditions swing in.

If you haven’t seen McConks’ range of polarised, bamboo sunglasses then head across to the McConks shop for a look/see.

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eFoil fun! – electric hydrofoil prototype testing update.

After a bit of a false start (we won’t get into it) there’s now a solid bout of electric hydrofoil board testing under our belts. For those not aware McConks currently has a prototype eFoil set up we’re putting through its paces to decide if its a thing that has legs – or rather, wings…

Suffice to say after some back and forth with the manufacturer we were on for today (Sept 15, 2020). Conditions for this session ranged from extreme light wind to totally glassy. Tide was high with a very small ground swell running at our test location. The sun was shining and temperatures were hovering around 30C, which for September is pretty good even if we do say so ourselves!

For anyone familiar with foiling the actual act of flying on an eFoil is pretty standard. What’s not standard is the controlling of a very sensitive throttle trigger which will ultimately dictate how easily you manage to get to your feet, get on foil and stay flying. That said with a little bit of perseverance and the correct technique it’s easily achievable.

So far so good then. Stay tuned for more updates as and when.

Thanks to Oli Lane-Peirce for the images.

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Wing SUP: the easiest wind sport to get to grips with?

We’ll start off by saying that our subject in the accompanying pics has only just started stand up paddle boarding and had zero wind activity experience before taking hold of the new McConks Go Fly 6m wing. There’s lots of chat about how wings are super easy to use because of fo their lightweight nature, easy pack capabilities and almost intuitive handling on the water. This theory needed to be put to the test so we asked our friend Oli if he’d be game.

Purposely we gave the chap as little info as poss, instead wanting to see how he coped. Conditions were pretty idyllic, if not that breezy. With Med like weather, warm seas and a mere puff of westerly breeze Oli took the Go Fly 6m and got involved.

You can see from the pics that straight off the bat Oli was up and riding on his knees with the 6m Go Fly placed accurately. Instinctively he made sure the wing had as much power as poss. Compared to windsurf sails, for instance, the sheeting angle of a wing isn’t as critical. At least not until you’re looking at more high performance wing riding such as being on foil. That said Oli did a good job of keeping it in place and getting a wriggle on across the wind. He also managed a few downwind turns (gybes) and was happily huffing back to the beach. There were a few walks back upwind and a couple of stacks into the drink but by and large the chap nailed his first session. Unfortunately the wind died a death soon after so we couldn’t take things further. As far as answering the article’s title question, however, that’s a resounding yes! If you’re looking for a way to make use of breezy autumn days the wings certainly fit the bill and aren’t difficult to get started with.

Get in touch for more info about McConks’ Go Fly wing range or if you have any other questions about the windy side of SUP. Also check out this guide here.

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What’s going on ‘ere then? Drums and stand up paddle boarding?

Here’s an interesting one we spotted over the weekend. Can anyone tell us what’s going on and why these pics of the McConks Go Free 9’8 crossover SUP and KAT Percussion’s KT-200 electronic drum kit have been snapped? No, us either…

What we do know is that our friends at SUP Mag UK do like to get creative with their articles and do something different. We shall wait and see what manifests as all will no doubt become clear in time. For the meanwhile we have to say the gear looks good in the sun.

You can check out more about McConks’ 9’8 Go Free crossover SUP/windSUP/wing SUP board here. Then if you’re wanting to know more about the breezy end of stand up paddle boarding have a peruse of the McConks Ultimate Guide to Windsurfing, WindSUP, Wing Surfing and Wing Foiling. If you’ve still got any questions about any of the mentioned equipment or disciplines then please free to get in touch.

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Making 2021 SUP safety year : Waist belts as standard

With so many new paddlers taking to the water this year, there have been a few near misses. And things can go wrong for relatively experienced paddlers as the recent tragedy on the Camel Estuary shows.

We’ve been talking to a few others in the industry over the last few months about our responsibilities as SUP ambassadors and as a brand. Needless to say, some are keen to talk about this, others are less keen. We want to launch a SUP safety year in partnership with all of the major brands and all of the UK homegrown brands for 2021. However, doing something on that scale, and doing anything by committee takes forever. So whilst that idea ferments and slowly develops, we’re paying someone to start to write and gather the best of the existing safety content and information on safety products for a brand independent SUP safety page on SUPhubUK.

We’re also going to be totally overhauling our user guide to better integrate safety information with the product use information. The intention is for that to be structured in terms of a paddler’s progression and development, so that timely information from the user guide is sent by email to our customers at the time at which most new customers would want it.

The other thing we’re going to be doing in 2021 is only shipping our SUP packages bundled with quick release waist belt leashes. We’ve only ever shipped our packages with quality coiled leashes, but with more and more people taking to flowing rivers and fast flowing estuaries, now is the time to move to the next step up, and only use quick release belts with the leashes. Obviously, there’s a little education needed for our customers on how to safely use waist belts, and why they’re important. So we need to get that in place before we make the switch. We also want to work with waist belt manufacturers, to get all the features we want. We’ve started that process now, but it will take the winter to get the belt we want into production in the quantities we need. In the meantime, safety belts are a bolt on that anyone can purchase when they buy any of our SUP boards.

Finally – just a thanks from us at McConks. We know that our customers are great safety ambassadors, and that many of you are generous with your advice and time for beginners looking for advice – both on our facebook groups and in person.

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Cross trainer – different disciplines to stay fresh for SUP during the off season.

We appreciate that as much as many will want to keep paddling regularly through winter the actual frequency of your SUP sessions may drop slightly because of winter. Less daylight, adverse weather and other things may conspire against you. But you still want to be fresh for when you can SUP. Here are a few suggestions of cross training disciplines from some of our friends to help keep you in shape and ready for it when you can.

WindSUP/wing SUP

Blowy weather become all the more frequent during autumn and winter so why not make use of it? Being able to attach a windsurf sail or fly a wing will still see you utilising your trusty stand up paddle board just in a different way. Fun in its own right wing SUP shenanigans will put a smile on your face regardless of being able to dip a blade. Plus, McConks has the very equipment for you if blowy conditions prick your interest.

Pool SUP

Technically no different to your standard stand up paddle boarding apart from it being indoors in a swimming pool. If you’re a member of a SUP club then this may already be an organised activity. Alternatively, why not gather together a few like minded individuals and try and arrange something with your local leisure centre.

Windsurfing/kitesurfing

You may already indulge in one of these two disciplines (or maybe both). A good many stand up paddlers rig a sail or blow up a kite when it’s not suitable for stand up paddle boarding. Wind sports are the perfect compliment to stand up with windSUP (see above) being the perfect entry into the world of wind, riders progressing to windsurfing/kitesurfing proper haven’t nailed down those fundamentals beforehand.

Surfing

Not everyone wants to ride a stand up paddle board in waves. Some save SUP for flat days whilst the bust out their trusty ‘stick’ for when swells start to pump. Paddling with arms and sliding along liquid walls is certainly stoke inducing and will certainly benefit your SUP fitness. Likewise paddling stand up paddle boards will also benefit your surfing.

Cycling

One of the missed by a lot of newbie stand up paddle boarders is the fact SUP requires quite a lot of leg use. Cycling, whether that be road biking or gunning up and down hills in mountain style fashion will see those pins getting regular use, keeping you honed and ready for more stand up paddle boarding when you can get on it.

There are, of course, plenty more cross over training activities you can indulge in that’ll compliment your stand up paddle boarding. Let us know what you get up to.

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Thinking of starting an inflatable stand up paddle board business? A few things to consider…

SUP‘s unprecedented popularity in 2020 has led a few entrepreneurial types to consider getting in on the action themselves – why wouldn’t you? Inflatable stand up paddle boards are perceived as being easy products to ship, store and sell with the previous two attractions being good for owners also. We’ve seen a few messages from potential new iSUP brands and even been asked ourselves how to go about it, and to be honest it’s something we do like seeing believe it or not.

The bigger the market for stand up paddle boarding the better in our opinion. Not everyone wants to shell out for premium boards initially so in some instances a cheaper option will the way to go. In time, when those paddlers come to upgrade or add to their quiver, perhaps they’ll come to McConks. This has happened already and will again.

If you’re considering setting up an inflatable stand up paddle board business there’re a few things to consider before jumping in.

Not all iSUP manufacturers are the same

Here at McConks we’ve spent long hours researching where to get our boards made and who by. Due to manufacturing facilities being a long way away we have to mostly rely on what we read, see and hear online, although we do have feet on the ground in China (a QA person who helps us out). Then it’s a case of making contact, asking questions and seeing how much more info we can get. And you can sometimes tell from their answers on quality control, environment, worker welfare etc whether they’re worth considering further, but its not always the case. Some manufacturers are extremely good with great attention to detail and top notch quality control, and don’t shout about it. Others are very good at telling you what they do, but aren’t very good at delivering. So it’s tricky determining who’s who – there are hundreds of facilities knocking out inflatable products these days. And just a word of warning for anyone considering using Alibaba as their buying platform. The very best factories in China have no need to use Alibaba. It’s only the poor quality ones who need to advertise their services.

Samples and prototyping

Once you’ve decided which manufacturer to use it’s a case of getting samples. In our experience their basic model first to see how quality is. You’ll have to pay as these don’t come free. There’s usually a deal off the final unit price to be negotiated though. Having (literally) set foot on a sample board it’s time to bite the bullet if it’s good enough quality. But be warned, many factories have their samples made by the A team, and then production boards for small customers made by the Z team! You may have a specific design in mind so tweaks to the sample model may be necessary. The generic shapes they use tend not to be particularly well optimised. So your design information info should be relayed to the manufacturer in as clear and as simple terms as possible. You’re dealing with people who have a different language and culture so all the ‘I’s need to be dotted and ‘T’s crossed. You’ll then need to see one of your prototypes in the flesh to make sure everything’s been communicated accurately.

Ordering and storage

Having sorted the above you place the order, which will be a number of ‘pieces’ usually. This needs to be taken into account as storage at your destination needs to be thought about. Whilst inflatables do pack down to relatively small packages having a container load still takes up space!

Marketing and demos

Unfortunately keeping your gear locked up and expecting buyers to rely on what you’re telling them regarding your product won’t cut the mustard. Breaking stock is needed so potential customers can experience your kit for themselves. In some instances you can choose to get the SUP media involved. Most of the mags conduct reviews/tests so sending something to them can be a big help in terms of marketing. Be aware, however, that most expect advertising support first before they will review your kit. Likewise, attending demo events around the country can also be a winner, but you’ll need to ‘pay to play’ here also. Of course, you’re free to employ other methods, such as relying on social media but to be really effective at getting your brand message and wares out there a variety of streams will need to be utilised.

Customer service

It should go without saying, no matter what price point you target or customer demographic, customer service needs to be at the forefront of everything you do. Poor customer service results in poor brand perception. And there’ll be problems, of course, there always are. How you deal with this is what’ll set you apart, encourage return custom and solidify your brand as a reputable one.

Time

Ultimately all the above takes time – and plenty of it. If you’re aiming to do things right then it won’t be an overnight win. We’re not sure how SUP‘s growth will pan out in the future. Hopefully the unprecedented nature of 2020, due to COVID, won’t be repeated in terms of pandemics. And of course, there’s the brexit uncertainty to deal with. So maybe the growth spurt stand up paddling‘s receiving currently won’t last. In which case you may have missed the boat. But to quote a much love sitcom; ‘he who dares…’ and all that.

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SUPs for surfing – how it’s never been easier to learn how to surf with a stand up paddle board.

Whilst teaching techniques across watersports have evolved massively there’s still a tricky learning curve for anyone looking to learn how to surf in conventional mode. Surfing has mass appeal, perhaps because of its associated ‘cool’ lifestyle which stand up paddle boarding doesn’t quite own (yet). Boardshorts, bikinis, beaches and barrels coupled with blaring sunshine – you know the deal. So many buy into this, even if the UK’s surf scene is anything but Californian.

For those choosing to actually learn how to surf there are certainly applicable ‘tools’ available. Boards suitable for beginners with an experienced coach at a venue with reliable swell will put anyone wanting to get to grips in good stead. The fact is, however, Atlantic juice can be quite powerful for the uninitiated (even broken white water) and a decent learner surf board is still pretty low volume and relative unstable.

Enter stand up paddle boards, inflatable or hard – it doesn’t really matter which. Due to their oversize nature and additional volume SUPs can be good platforms for learning to surf without a paddle. Their dimensions mean you only need a mere dribble of chop to get it propelling forwards. As such, not only are SUPs way easier to get the feeling of riding waves your choice venue suddenly opens up. What mightn’t even be classed as a surfing location is suddenly on the agenda with a stand up paddle board. And as great as this is for adults it’s also bang on for kids.

One of the hardest things when learning to surf is the pop up, or getting to your feet. A surfboard needs momentum and because of its smaller dimensions requires more power to move forwards. In contrast stand up paddle boards jet off at merest sniff of a wave and reach top speed quicker. This instantly gives stability. Add to the mix a SUP‘s wider deck and more voluminous shape and you suddenly have a platform that allows the practising of those previously tricky pop ups more often. Repeating, repeating and repeating again(with the odd rinsing) is the only way to dial in any kind of technique.

We appreciate out test subject in the associated pics isn’t standing. But he’s pretty little (young) and happy to just have fun gliding along on his belly. The point being, however, that at barely three years old our little chap is getting used to swell shoving him along at speed. Intuitively he’s trimming the board to avoid nose dives (or pearling as the surfing term describes it) and is ready to get to his feet. We actually have it on good authority that blondy can stand up with a little help from dad perched on the board’s tail.

The more often the above is practised the more muscle memory can lock in so when the rider in question transfers to a surfboard, rather than SUP, popping up becomes more doable. Learning to surf on a stand up paddle board therefore helps lay foundational skills much quicker in a lot of cases than learning to surf on a Swelly (as beginner surfboards are often referred to). When the time is right transferring these skills should be much easier. Likewise, if he/she never goes near an actual surfboard then we’re pretty there’ll be no loss of fun. After all, the term ‘surfing’ describes the act of riding a wave and however you decide to do it’s all good in our book.

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New batch wingsurfing wings; optimised designs, new sizes – time to Go Fly!

We’re stoked with the latest batch of McConks Go Fly wingsurfing wings as the product’s evolved in terms of design just as with the sport itself. There’s no question wings to fly are still catching people’s attention and with more and more riders hearing the call McConks’s Go Fly had to evolve in tandem. So for the new autumn season we’re now offering a range of Go Fly sizes coming in 1.5m (aimed at kids and smaller stature riders or for super windy conditions), plus a 4m, 5m and 6m.

In terms of optimisations each inflated leading edge strut has been configured for its individual square metre size to ensure the aerodynamic properties of each Go Fly is as efficient as possible. The main canopy is attached to the centre strut increasing rigidity and better air flow, which also increases efficiency – especially during pumping if you’re looking to get onto foil.

The beady eyed will have also spotted we’ve got rid of the windows. We appreciate the jury’s out on this but ultimately by not having them means more longevity for the wing – as wing windows can wear down – plus additional canopy rigidity. Having had the McConks Go Fly 5m wing on test extensively this summer it’s deemed that because riders can raise the wing above his/her head this gives a better field of vision than trying to peer through a wing window that’s usually covered in water and debris anyway.

So, whether you plan on wing foiling, wing SUPing or winging on land (which is a thing) get in touch to bag your own Go Fly wingsurfing wing for those blowy days this autumn. Likewise, if you have any questions about winging give us a shout.

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Wearing the correct SUP clothing, whatever the time of year.

Humorous image above aside…

All through summer we’ve seen unprecedented amounts of new recruits to stand up paddle boarding taking to the water – which is awesome! What we’ve also seen is newbie paddlers wearing the bare minimum of clothing to paddle, which isn’t so awesome…

This summer, as everyone’s aware, has been cracking for weather, by and large. There’s been plenty of sunshine, warm air temps and warm water. Even during those hotter periods, however, wind chill is still prevalent. In pursuit comes the risk of cardiac shock and hypothermia. The cold waters of the UK – even at the hottest times of year – can cause all manner of problems. Add to the mix our ever changeable weather and the cocktail can be deadly if you’re not careful.

Whilst your paddling mission may start off all rosey it can quickly go awry in the blink of an eye. There’s no accounting for kit failure and other ‘incidents’. Without the proper paddling protection the issue(s) you face could be exacerbated. Cardiac shock occurs when people fall into water that’s cooler than the air. That’s not to say cold water per se. The water may be warm. It just mightn’t be as warm as the air. The body goes into shock and the individual in question can suffer cardiac arrest. Needless to say a decent covering of paddling attire, be that applicable wetsuit or SUP wear, may help cardiac shock be avoided.

Evaporative cooling, meanwhile, can happen after a paddler has gotten wet. With the slimmest of clothing keeping body parts warm the water starts to evaporate, body heat flowing to extremities to fend off chill but leaving his/her core cold. This is when hypothermia can set in. And it can creep up and grip like stink. As with cardiac shock a decent wetsuit or well manufactured paddling garments can prevent this.

In contrast you can wear too much – too much heat can be as much of a problem as the cold. An overly thick wetsuit, for instance, may cause more harm than do good. Taking hot days into account that thick rubber will only serve to overheat teh wearer and cause (potentially) heat exhaustion and dehydration.

The UK’s climate is ever changing with little consistency. Traditional colder months can sometimes be warmer than expected whilst summer may see extended periods of cooler conditions. Choosing the correct clothing for stand up paddling is therefore key. It also means you need a selection of kit if you want to paddle as often as possible.

Winter wetsuits, summer wetsuits, layers such a thermal rashvests that can be worn as stand alone garments and everything else in between. Possibly adding a drysuit – for the coldest periods – and well designed SUP threads for all types of scenario you’ll encounter is good practise. A brimming toy box is always a good idea to make sure you’re a safe as possible when stand up paddle boarding through the seasons, however frivolous this may seem…

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SUP fundamentals – bury (submerge) your paddle’s blade during each stroke.

Teaching SUP paddle technique is tricky. As individuals we’re wired uniquely to complete the ‘moves’ which best suit our body geometry. Trying to force a SUPer to paddle your way is therefore wrong. What’s much better is to work with the rider in questions and help develop their technique to be as efficient as possible. That said there are a couple of fundamentals which need to be adhered to when talking stand up paddling technique. One of which is burying, or completely submerging, the blade during the catch (power/pull) part of the stroke.

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve the correct length paddle shaft of not; whether you’re stance is Bob on or what type of board you’re paddling. In fact, little else matters as much when considering forwards propulsion and momentum. Your paddle is your engine and tickling the water is akin to driving a Ferrari F40 whilst keeping it in first gear. You’re not enjoying the full benefit and stylistically doesn’t look great. Aesthetics aside, however, and it’s the efficiency of your paddling that’s the big one to focus on. Time and again we see paddlers barely tickling the water with their paddle. If that blade was to be fully immersed then even if said paddler doesn’t have the great ‘reach’, a beast mode ‘catch and ‘pull’ or lightening ‘recovery’ then their efficient (and therefore overall enjoyment of SUP) would go up exponentially.

Next time you’re out for a float try it. Reach towards the nose as you would do normally then plunge that paddle blade all the way in. You shoudl feel a degree of resistance from the water but we guarantee you’ll be advancing forwards at a much greater rate of knots than previous. Repeat this all the time so your muscle memory locks it in and the whole process becomes natural.

As far as stand up paddle boarding fundamental tips are concerned this is one of the biggest…

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eFoil testing video – just how powerful is the eFoil propeller?

Some of you may already know we’re testing and electric hydrofoil set up. We’re still not convinced this is the right direction to go but curiosity got the better of us and we’re now in the thick of it. For some electric hydrofoils are a great way to make use of the water, in modern fashion, when you don’t have a ready supply of waves and/or breeze to power you along into flight mode. And with many of these eFoil boards being hybrid SUP board designs there’s synergy. For others, however, they may just be a nuisance and detract from the purer parts of stand up paddling. Either way we’re intrigued.

If you’ve never seen an eFoil then check out the video below. This is how the propeller looks when powered up on land – make sure you turn the volume up. As you can see it’s got a lot of oomph! Stay tuned to see how we get on with further eFoil testing.

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Customer feedback rocks – McConks 12’8 Go Explore stand up paddle board back in stock!

We love hearing feedback from our customers. Good or bad it helps us evolve as a stand up paddle board brand. Of course, if it’s positive then all the better, such as this recent snippet from a customer who purchased a McConks 12’8 Go Explore three years ago! Still going strong as you see from the below.

‘A quick update, coming up for three years from purchase. So: My granddaughter age 6 loves it. My children love it. My son in law loves it (he’s getting one from you shortly). My wife is even contemplating going out on it!

Not a sign of wear anywhere, despite some pretty lengthy excursions and rough handling. Handles really well on the sea.  Tracks straight, suffers fools and novices with impeccable manners

I’ve upgraded to the HP3 pump which is well worth the money for this board – although one of my daughters is also looking at the compressor… The HP3 fills it to 20psi in about 12-15 minutes tops.

The bamboo paddle is a work of art. Because of my height (195cm), Andy (McConkey) fashioned a carbon fibre extension for me which added another dimension.

And finally, the seat is great for my granddaughter to come paddling with me – she feels like she’s a princess in a Disney movie. Which I think makes me a servant! She has her own child’s paddle which she uses as a fantastic way to make grandad work harder.

All in all I can’t recommend the board enough. Excellent value.’

Great stuff! We’re so pleased you’re getting value from it. If anyone else wants to own their own McConks 12’8 Go Explore then head over to the shop now. For any additional info on this or any other McConks SUP product just holla.

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SUP stock headaches – simplicity not always guaranteed.

Whilst McConks are a true homegrown, UK stand up paddle boarding company it goes without saying we don’t have our equipment manufactured on British soil – a shame we know. Just like 98% of other companies – whether watersports or not – McConks hardware and gear comes from the Far East. We design, prototype, tweak and take onboard feedback from customers in our own backyard. But when it comes down to the actual making of each bit of equipment there’s no cost effective method of producing it in this green and pleasant land.

When sourcing manufacturers we put a lot of time and effort in behind the scenes to make sure who we use not only can replicate our ideas accurately but do so in as efficient and ethical manner possible. We’re not there on the ground in person, obviously, so we ask questions, do our research and build the necessary relationships. If you don’t get it right then this manifests in poor quality stock. And not every brand does get it right first time. There’ve been plenty having to switch suppliers!

There are a small few (very small!) that have stakes in the manufacturing facilities their gear is made. But that isn’t McConks (yet). In time we’d love to be one of those SUP sellers that does. In the meantime we continue as is.

Why are we telling you this? McConks‘s way has always been to be as honest and transparent as possible. Wearing hearts on sleeve may leave us open to criticism but we feel anyone looking at McConks – for either SUP related info or equipment buying options – needs the full story. As much as we pride ourselves with the brand>manufacturer relationships we’ve built hiccups can still occur. After all, you’re relying on people interpreting your vision, across a vast expanse of land and water, who only have electronic methods of conversing and come from a different country with culture, working methods and general existences different to those of our own. As such comms needs to be tip top.

Continuing to work super hard to deliver the best SUP experience possible to our customers is paramount. If we hit snags we rectify as quickly and efficiently as possible. In the long run the positive feedback we regularly receive tells us things are going well. Moving forwards we’ll carry on giving updates like these, as well as notifications should anything go awry at any other time. Thanks for your continued support. We love seeing all those happy, smiling faces out on the water.

If anyone’s got any questions relating to McConks stand up paddle boarding equipment then let us know.

What’s triggered this post? A small batch of Go Free windSUP/windsurf/wing SUP boards without a mast foot insert. Yep! We though that was quite amusing. Still, they make great wing boards and you can, of course, definitely paddle them. SO all not lost…

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NEW! McConks 6m Go Fly wing surfing/SUP/foil wing now in stock with updated features!

The new McConks 6m Go Fly wing surfing/SUP/foil wing has literally just landed and will be on sale in the McConks SUP shop imminently. Featuring a new improved design and bigger size for more power, earlier foiling and generally more efficiency.

A tighter wing canopy, achieved by attaching to the middle strut, and giving the leading edge more rigidity improves the low end power delivery without sacrificing the Go Fly’s light weight. We’ve also taken away the windows which also helps with canopy tension. There a divided camp when it comes to wing windows. From our experience, however, riders tend to lift the wing to spot other water uses so aren’t essential.

The Go Fly’s bigger 6m size also means lighter wind performance, earlier lifting onto the foil (if your riding with one) and better upwind ability. Multiple handles ensure optimum hand holds can be located. One thing remaining, however, is the instantly recognisable colourway which is bold in white and blue. All in the new 6m Go Fly wing is a step up and will allow more time on the water this autumn.

Get in touch for more info on McConks’ wing foil/SUP/surf wings.

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SUP hack #3569 – attaching additional D-rings to an inflatable stand up paddle board.

Customising your inflatable stand up paddle board is a thing. There are many ways you can do this. There are a couple of ways, however, that are both practical and pimped. In this instance we’re talking about adding extra D-rings so a sit on top kayak seat can be fitted. This SUP hack from McConks’ boss man Andy.

  • Step 1: You’ll probably need to trim the patches the D-rings sit in so that’ll be your first job.
  • Step 2: Mark out the position you want them. If fitting a kayak seat it should be centred over the carry handle, so probably about 40 cm in front and behind, but check with the seat straps.  Once you have the position mark with a pencil.
  • Step 3: Use some fine sandpaper to slightly scuff up both the marked area of the board and the bottom of the D-ring.
  • Step 4: Cut some moulds from foam. You’ll need to apply weight to the outside of the D-rrings to stop them peeling up during setting.  We normally cut hollow circles out of the foam that comes with the boards which allows weight to be applied to outside
  • Step 5: Apply the glue to both board and bottom of D-ring and leave for 20 minutes.
  • Step 6: Apply more glue to both surfaces and leave to go tacky (between 5 and 10 mins).
  • Step 7: Firmly push the two surfaces together and apply the foam moulds and a weight.
  • Step 8: After 10 minutes take weight off and remove any glue residue. Reapply moulds and weight and leave for 60 minutes.
  • Step 9: Remove moulds and weight to check positioned properly. Reapply and leave for 24-48 hours (the closer to 48 hours the better).
  • Step 10: Test them by pulling.

Have fun!

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SUP schools/coaches/instructors and watersports centres – the time is now (for 2021 pre-order equipment deals)!

We’re now definitely into post-summer, or autumn if you will. That’s not to say good weather’s done – far from it. There’ll be plenty of chance to get out for a float in the coming weeks for those of a fair weather bent. Anyone one committed will, of course, keep SUPing through winter regardless.

From McConks’ point of view we’re already looking at summer of SUP 2021 – we have been for a while. Anyone following our blog posts regularly will have seen this. There are new products in the pipeline – see this post here for more info on those – as well as keeping with what we know already works. For next year/season we’re keen to build on our relationships with SUP schools, stand up paddle boarding rental businesses, SUP instructors, watersports clubs and adventure centres. We can offer good deals on pre-order stand up paddle boarding equipment. So if you’re looking to replace your fleet of SUP boards, paddles and accessories then now’s the time to get in touch.

And don’t forget: whilst stand up paddle board‘s our bread and butter we know our onions when it comes to the wider world of watersports. We can also supply crossover windSUP/wing SUP boards as well as wing surfing wings themselves and inflatable windsurf rigs which are all great tools for teaching, safe for learning and offer another way of getting wet when the breeze blows.

So if you’re part of the industry and considering your SUP equipment options for 2021 give us a shout to see what we can do for you.

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Fenwick Ridley: SUP (and swim) river missions for charity – Kielder to Quayside mission complete!

If you haven’t come across Fenwick Mark Ridley then he’s a determined type who likes a challenge, as can be seen from what he gets up to fun, but all in the name of charity. Fenwick loves a bit of wild swimming but for a reason. And not placid water either, as can be seen from updates on his YouTube channel. Nope, Fenwick prefers it when there’s flow to really test his mettle.

The bearded fella also indulges in a bit of SUP. We say ‘a bit’ as paddling source to sea – Kielder (Hexham) to Quayside (Newcastl-upon-Tyne) is a little more than that. It’s 52.6m according to Google maps. From Mark’s Facebook updates we can work out that parts of the route are quite challenging – even on a McConks 14′ stand up paddle board. But as we’ve already said he’s a determined chap. Suffice to say he managed the feat and topped out at Newburn Bridge yesterday (Sept 2, 2020), even having had an equipment malfunction (snapped paddle) towards the end of his run.

It’s still an awesome achievement, however, and we salute you wholeheartedly Fenwick. For donations and further details head over to Fenwick’s Just Giving page here – https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/fenwickridley?fbclid=IwAR3cf-RJbrcc7_Pv4563pBjccdmmveH8LiwNQnntDfyyc5CVIBI42DdsCg4

Stay tuned for more adventures from the man himself…

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Stand up paddle board trim – and what happens if you don’t achieve it.

We’ve talked about SUP board trim in a previous post, which you can read here. For those not inclined, however, we’ll sum stand up paddle board trim now:

Trim = optimum tracking, glide with least amount of drag = maximum efficiency.

Some stand up paddle boards trim flat whilst others can be railed on an edge (think slightly leaning over). Some like to be paddled from the front, with the tail slightly raised, whilst others prefer an elevated nose and engaged rear. The best thing to do is experiment and find what works best for your board (inflatables too) as every SUP is different.

The biggest thing to consider with trim is your paddle stroke, or rather how inaccurate board trim affects paddle strokes negatively. If your SUP isn’t travelling at maximum efficiency through the water then you’re essentially putting WAY more effort into each stroke and expending more energy quicker. And this goes for just recreational pootling as well as putting the hammer down. In some cases unnecessary upper board paddle work can start to aggravate – especially if you SUP regularly. This wear and tear can ultimately lead to injury, in some cases severe damage such as rotator cuff problems. There can be other contributing factors as well, such as paddle shafts which are too long, but inefficient board trim can certainly be a culprit. On top of this, if simply getting from point A to B becomes too arduous then the enjoyment of paddling slowly wanes and in time you feel inclined to SUP less and less. With temperatures still warm (air and water) it’s an idea to have a play with your board’s trim and discover what works best. Even inexperienced SUPers will find improved performance by altering your stance slightly. And in the long this’ll benefit your overall paddling as well.

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Carolyn Smith’s BIG SUP challenge – Barford to Boston, Lincolnshire: 32 miles with Yellowbelly SUP School.

Those unfamiliar with Carolyn Smith should take note. ‘Where there’s a will there’s a way‘ definitely rings true as far as this strong lady’s concerned. Carolyn lives with Vascular Ehlers Danlos Syndrome which affects her ‘body’s glue’ as Carolyn puts it. In short Carolyn says it makes her body act ‘like useless wet tissue paper where even a sneeze could cause serious harm‘. But that hasn’t stopped Carolyn from taking up stand up paddle boarding, under the watchful eye of Yellowbelly SUP school’s Phil May from Boston, Lincolnshire.

Having found her calling initially with hiking and rambling Carolyn has since switched most of her attention to stand up paddle boarding and can be found afloat whenever there’s opportunity. She can be found putting in the miles on the River Witham. But it’s not just social paddling as each session is now training…

On September 26, 2020, Carolyn and Phil will be aiming to paddle 32 miles from Brayford to Boston, Lincolnshire, to raise money for four different charities: RNLI, Calm, Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance and Annabelle’s Challenge for Vascular Eds. For someone in the position Carolyn finds herself this a big undertaking but we have it on good authority everything’s been going well and she’s looking forward to the day in question.

Here at McConks we’d like to extend a huge good luck to Carolyn. If you’d like to donate then please do so via this link – https://www.justgiving.com/team/yellowbellySUPers?fbclid=IwAR2KVwEG4X0ETHwVs9I942JfP1Vb6nd5pubNp7cfMCYaBMrm6aa5zJMUsZc

You can also find out more about Carolyn’s adventures via here FB page – https://www.facebook.com/ramblingsofabrokenhiker

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Efficient SUP progression – learn to use the stand up paddle gear you have, well.

If you’re a stand up paddler looking to progress, in whatever discipline you choose, then chances are you already own the applicable SUP kit. The problem with progression, however, can be frustration. Frustration at not moving forwards quick enough; frustration of not getting over that plateau efficiently; frustration at lack of consistency. Often the frustrated stand up paddler in question may put it down to their equipment. It’s an easy trap to fall into with much marketing hype doing the rounds on social media and such. Seeing the next best thing and how that’s ‘guaranteed’ to evolved your stand up paddling is ‘selling the dream’ in the most in your face fashion.

Pics, but more likely videos, of that supposed magical piece of SUP gear in action (often a stand up paddle board) is enough to make anybody salivate. Yet what many forget is the paddler using the kit is probably a gifted athlete, whose job it is to SUP and who gets wet on a daily basis. Basically they’re pro and paid to be one.

But we’re all guilty of being lured by the marketing machine. Pretty soon, believing your next purchase will solve all woes, hard earned cash is leaving your wallet and a new, shiny bit of SUP kit is winging its way to you.

We spoken to enough experienced SUP paddlers in our time and they all concur: you can pretty much achieve a lot with your existing gear. Learning how to use it/ride and paddle it well will put you in a great place for progression. Chopping and changing gear isn’t needed. Racers can podium on their current machine and surfers can carve and slide on their trusty 10fter. Learning the ropes and acquiring those much needed paddle skills is something that should be focused on before swapping out your current SUP equipment for the umpteenth time.

Now don’t get us wrong. We’re not suggesting you shouldn’t upgrade. Of course, if you’ve been riding something aimed squarely at beginners then maybe it’s time for change. What we’re suggesting is NOT part exing and buying new SUP gear every couple of weeks. Believe us when we say we’ve seen this happen a lot with SUP over the years. Instead, get on the horse as often as you possibly can. Get involved with varied conditions, focus on technique and consolidate all that knowledge you acquire. Put it into practice and you’ll be winning.

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Winter weekend SUP warrior tips – nailing it during the off season.

We’ve said in previous posts the onset of winter doesn’t mean the end of stand up paddling – unless you’re truly fair weather. In fact, it can be the best time for SUP. The fly in the ointment, however, is lack of daylight. 2020 aside, due to its unusual play out, as autumn rolls into winter those long evenings of summer become a distant memory. You may be lucky with kids back at school to score some middle hours session time but mostly it’ll be weekend SUP shenanigans you’ll be confined to. Below are a few tips to nailing it.

Plan ahead (as best you can)

Whilst weather forecasts aren’t 100% accurate more than three days out you can still get an indication of what conditions will be like for your weekend of SUP. Knowing your chosen area and how this info can be interpreted for said location will also help. With this knowledge you should be able to make a loose plan. We say loose because things can often change (see next point).

Calender Planner Organization Management Remind Concept

Prepare to change

This is winter and not least the weather can be volatile. As such it’s best to be in a position where changing plans – and even sacking off your SUP session off altogether – isn’t an issue if everything conspires against you. At the very least have a secondary, back up location in mind. This way you’ll avoid disappointment.

Keep warm

Keeping warm shouldn’t need to be said. But this doesn’t apply to just you in the water. This also applies to your little crew. If you’re a family then keep snuggly blankets close to hand, in tandem with warm winter clothes, to help stave off the chill. If you’re lucky enough to own a surf wagon (van) then deck it out for cosy times so those not in the water will remain comfortable.

Keep fuelled and hydrated

Cold zaps strength and with exercise in the mix you’ll become fatigued and dehydrated much quicker than you think. Fuel up on energy giving foods before your SUP session and make sure you drink plenty of fluid before and after.

Wear the right attire

If you’re going to be in the ocean/lake/river then a decent wetsuit will most likely be your chosen piece of SUP wear. Either that or a high quality drysuit. Don’t scrimp here. Get the best you can afford, and from a reputable brand. Don’t underestimate windchill and the evaporative cooling effect of being in the air once you’re out of the drink either. Hanging about outside in a wet wetty is the quickest way to get hypothermia.

Keep your gear in good working order

After every weekend warrior mission check your SUP gear over and make sure any damage or bits needing replacement are sorted. The worst thing is leaving everything in a messy pile that you have to sift through as you’re about to get wet next time. Chances are, the law of sod being what it is, you’ll find something broken just when the stars seem to be aligning.

Know your limits

Winter generally sees Momma Nature dish up more hardcore conditions than you get in summer. If you’re confronted by a scenario you’re just not comfortable with then sack it off and live to paddle another day. There’ll be other chances of SUP we promise.

Finish off weekly tasks in the week

There’s nothing worse than having lingering tasks hanging over your head. As much as possible get up straight with things like work and household chores in the week so your weekend is free and clear. That way you’ll enjoy your paddling time to the maximum.

Stay safe

Just to reiterate the safety point: stay safe if you’re stand up paddling through winter. Enjoy the season but don’t take unnecessary risks. There’s plenty of SUP fun to be had without.

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Ready for the weekend – August Bank Holiday SUPin’s all good (some boards still in stock!)

It’s nearly the weekend – August Bank Holiday weekend 2020 to be precise. Whilst it’s been a strange year in many ways there’s one thing that isn’t changing: everyone loves a Bank Holiday Weekend. And with this one incoming it’ll be no different. On a plus the storms we’ve experienced this week have sloughed off with only remnant conditions left. By and large this’ll disappear as well and come Sunday, broadly speaking, there should be much lighter airs. You may still need to seek a bit of shelter (locally) but we’re pretty confident decent stand up paddle boarding conditions will be found. So it’s definitely worth making the most of it. General weather doesn’t look too bad either, with healthy amounts of sunshine and moderate temperatures.

Here at McConks we’ve had an unprecedented year, as has been spoken about. That said we still have some boards left for you that’ll land in time for the weekend if ordered in the next few days. Our Go Race V 14, which can easily double as a touring SUP, is waiting, ready to ride. The tech that’s gone into this iSUP is top drawer – even if we do say so ourselves. Not least the removable fin box. We also have some of the nimble, fun Go Skate 7’2 inflatables left which are perfect for anyone looking for manoeuvrability in surf or on moving river waterways. And there’s a whole load of SUP paddles and accessories ready to enhance your overall SUP experience. Head over to the shop for a nose and to place your order. Let us know if you have any questions about anything.

Check out the full specs of both boards below –

Go Race V 14

Go Skate 7’2

If any boards are ordered before 12:00 noon today (Thursday 27 August) it would arrive on Friday. After 12:00 noon today it’ll arrive on Saturday 29 August.

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McConks blog article round up – what you may have missed (Aug 25, 2020).

We appreciate everyone’s been busy paddling, hanging out with the family and making the most of summer. So much so it’s easy to miss some of the stuff we publish to the McConks blog. Have no fear, however, as we’ve conveniently rounded things up for you.

McConks bitesize travel guides

The beady eyed out there may have noticed we’ve featured heavily on the travel area of stand up paddle boarding. There’re a plethora of locations across the UK to paddle – inland and coastal. We’ve started compiling a bunch of bitesize guides to help when choosing where to SUP next. Stay tuned as we’ll be adding to these regularly. Below are the spots we’ve published to date.

5 of the best UK SUP spots

Sticking with the domestic SUP travel theme for a moment; we put out an article talking about 5 of the best palces to stand up paddle board in the UK. Obviously there are others, but this 5 will start you off. Feel free to drop us a line with your personal faves.

You can check out the article here.

We need YOU, watersports clubs

Many will already be aware that McConks does more than just stand up paddle boards. We cover the whole spectrum, from SUP itself to windSUP, windsurfing, wing and we’re currently looking hard at hydrofoil and hard shell SUPs. There’s plenty to come! With this in mind we’d love to make contact with any watersports clubs that offer mutiple activities. For more info hit this link then hit us up.

Honesty is always the best policy, so we think

If you want an insight top how 2020 has been for McConks then this is the article you need to read. Not least to give an idea of what we have to do to keep this ticking smoothly over, but also so you’re in the full picture as customers.

Winter SUPing

There’re no two ways about it: winter is definitely heading our way. But that doesn’t mean you have stop paddling – far from it. Here’re a few things you can do to prepare for the off season and make it as fun as possible.

ISA awarded SUP ‘ownership’

Recently the International Surfing Association was awarded ‘ownership’ of stand up paddle boarding to take it through (potentially) to its Olympic Games debut. But does the recreational paddler actually care about stuff like this? Read the article and let us know what you think.

5 SUP adventures that await the progressing stand up paddler

If you’re one of the many new paddlers this summer then here’re 5 SUP adventures that await you as you move forwards on your paddling journey.

There’s loads more on the McConks SUP blog and the McConks Knowledge Hub pages. If you’re looking for something specific, then as always hit us up and we’ll do our best to accommadate.

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Is that it? Is 2020’s summer of SUP done? Don’t be daft! Autumn can be a great time of year for paddling.

Looking out the window, with the rain beating down and wind howling, you’d be forgiven for thinking that’s it, all over, done and dusted; Summer of SUP 2020 has gone. But not so fast! It’s still only August and whilst there’s certainly a bit of grotty weather about currently there’s also every likelihood that it’ll pass and we’ll get a decent end of season – an Indian Summer if you will.

Of course, we’re generalising here. And one stand up paddler‘s idyllic is another’s not so great depending where you’re based in the UK. That said, early autumn can often see decent temperatures – possibly more bearable for some than the recent Med like mercury levels – with waters still very much warm. It’s actually this time of year when seas in particular are at their balmiest. Rivers, lakes and canals are pretty good as well.

Also, anyone looking for ‘conditions’, such as better waves for SUP surfing, will find now’s the time. You’re more likely to score proper waves, with offshore winds, in autumn. We’ve talked about sea breezes in the past. The tail end of the year sees less and less of these due to how warm the ocean is, hence why you’re more likely to score glassy SUP sessions.

One fly in the ointment is less daylight. We’re definitely edging towards longer nights. But days will still be the go – right up until end of October for many (unless you’re truly fair weather). And don’t forget: kids will be back at school shortly (COVID allowing) which means potentially additional free time for parents if they can swing it with work.

So now’s not the time to be hanging up your paddle. There’s plenty of SUP time to be wrung from 2020. And even when the depths of winter set in if you pick and choose your times then, as with autumn, you can bag some great sessions.

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SUP4.co.uk – paddling London waterways with Rachel Bambrough.

Pics courtesy: Ben Read, www.benreadphotography.com

Rachel Bambrough runs SUP4.co.uk based in London. She doesn’t just teach those wanting to take their first steps in stand up paddle boarding, however. We asked Rachel a few questions about her teaching and SUP in London.

Firstly, tell us how SUP4Beginners came about? – SUP4 was an ongoing idea, albeit without a brand name, logo or structure of how I would make it work, when working full time in the corporate world. It was a dream which I was striving towards but didn’t quite know when it would happen, or how successful it would be. I would spend my days dreaming about being outdoors and on the water. The original plan was to move closer to the sea to make the venture work, but this year I was made redundant from my corporate role which was very much the wake up call I needed to make it all happen. After coaching for various clubs in London and Denmark I decided to go solo and take the plunge to set up my own SUP school.

And where do you normally paddle – what’s good about your area for paddling? – I usually paddle on the non-tidal stretch of the River Thames between Hampton Court and Teddington Lock. It gives beginners and those that want to perfect their skills all the hours in the day to do this as we are not restricted by tide times. It’s a beautiful, picturesque stretch of river which houses many interesting plants and lots of wildlife. The other week I spotted a terrapin.

Is it just beginners you teach? Any plans to take your qualifications further? It’s not just beginners, all levels are welcome. The name SUP4Beginners was more of an idea to make it open and welcome to those that would like to learn. So many people are put off doing sport because they feel like they won’t be able to keep up or find anything in common with larger groups as a beginner. I wanted people from all walks of life, all age groups to come along and try out SUP. My main goal is to make the sport fun and accessible, whilst teaching people how to be at their safest whilst out on the river. I really want to make SUP more accessible to groups of people who wouldn’t usually get the opportunity to try out water sports, whether this be because of a disability or a confidence issue; this is something I am working towards for next year.

What equipment do you use and why? – I am currently using the McConks 12’8 Go Explore touring board, but sometimes switch to McConks’ Go Wild if I fancy a faster trip down river.

Tell us about the wider London area for stand up paddle boarding. It’s not where most people would tend to think of for SUP. – The wider London area has a lot of untouched beautiful spots to paddle on, which you wouldn’t know about just by walking or cycling along the river. I like to find new excitng places to take my pupils. There are many spots to take your SUP board and enjoy local cafes and restaurants as part of your trip.