Posted on Leave a comment

Weekend Candy (Claire) does adventure SUP, aboard a McConks inflatable stand up paddle board.

This is actually something from 2019, but it’s still relevant. It also happens that Weekend Candy (Claire) is indulging in one of her 7 unmissable SUP adventures aboard a trusty McConks iSUP. Of course, because of this fact alone, we’re sharing this. But it’s more than just narcissism on our part. There’s some good info in Weekend Candy’s article about SUP adventures and how to make the most your time afloat.

Here at McConks we’re all about stand up paddle boarding adventures – whether they be short, hour long sojourns or longer, multi-day excursions. We offer the right SUP gear for the job. All you need to do is provide that spark of inspiration, make the appropriate plans and off you go.

So have a read of Claire’s article and either copy what she did or get involved in your own SUP adventure.

Posted on Leave a comment

Worth a watch – stand up paddle boarding movies to get your juices flowing.

Whether you’re new to SUP or an old hand there’re a bunch of stand up paddle boarding movies that have done the rounds and are designed to get pumped and ready for your next session. In some of these edits you’ll find aspiration and inspirational riding that’ll see you want to get out there amongst it. At other times you may simply be in awe whilst there may also be titbits of info you’ll pick up that’ll serve as part of your SUP education. In all instances SUP movies will at the very least help you while away some time when you’re not getting wet.

That First Glide

If you’re a stand up paddler with a windsurfing background then you may be familair with the name Mike Waltze. Waltze was one of the original Maui wave sailing trailblazers who pioneered the now revered Ho’okipa Beach Park: THE premier wave sailing location in the world. What you may not know is Mike owns and runs a successful video production company and soon after SUP’s inception began filming for his 2011 stand up paddle boarding documentary That First Glide.

Featuring all those familiar SUP pioneers That First Glide often gets overlooked but is one of the original (modern) paddle boarding films that’s still relevant today.

H2Mexico

Featuring such stalwarts of the SUP scene as Danny Ching, Connor Baxter, Dave Boehne, Dave Kalama, Gerry Lopez and Slater Trout (among others) Brent Deal’s premise for H2Mexico was place some of the world’s best paddlers at the time (2014) aboard a super yacht (The Royal Pelagic) and seek out adventures and paddling awesomeness along Baja’s rugged coast. The resulting film was noted as one of the best at the time of release.

The SUP Movie

John DeCesare and his Poor Boyz Productions released The SUP Movie in 2015. It’s another progressive stand up paddle boarding movie that has heavy Maui overtones. No less it’s still an awesome edit from an award winning director who started off producing freeskiing films in association with Red Bull Media House. He then went on to create The Windsurfing Movie, The Windsurfing Movie II before releasing The SUP Movie. Amazing photography and a kicking soundtrack to boot…

But it doesn’t stop there for DeCeasre’s cinematic depiction of SUP…

Paradigm Lost

Kai Lenny is one of the world’s most progressive and skilled riders across a whole host of ocean sporting disciplines – from windsurfing to SUP, kitesurfing to big wave surfing and now foiling, he’s at the cutting edge. Following John DeCesare’s 2015 The SUP Movie (see above) the Poor Boyz Productions cinematographer teamed up with the Hawaiian prodigy to shoot Paradigm Lost. A look into Lenny’s way of life and approach to wave riding it was filmed over three years, across six different countries and whilst isn’t SUP specific it does feature lots of stand up paddling boarding and seeks to highlight the life of a true waterman. Whether you like Lenny or not it certainly acts as an inspirational flick.

There are, of course, plenty more edits to be found online and not just featuring SUPing in waves. What’s your favourite stand up paddle boarding movie? Let us know…

Posted on Leave a comment

School summer holidays, overseas travel and your new inflatable stand up paddle board.

Pic: CE Photo

A few weeks back it looked like ALL overseas school summer holiday travel was off the cards due to COVID-19. There was, however, light at the end of the tunnel more recently when some nations announced a lifting of restrictions to allow holidaymakers in, as long as certain criteria was met. With chat surrounding a full staycation affair for 2020, and zero chances of heading abroad, it now looks as though some of us will be able to head off to sunnier/warmer climes after all.

So what of that brand new inflatable stand up paddle board you may have purchased to make the most of your time at home? Well, hopefully you’ll have been getting afloat lots since it arrived. The weather’s been great with seemingly plenty of opportunity for paddling shenanigans – from what we’ve seen at any rate.

If you’re one of those who (all being well) will be heading to foreign countries on holiday then you’ll still be able to make use of your iSUP. After all, one of the conveniences of buying an inflatable is the fact it’s easy to travel with. Being able to pack it down, roll up and stow inside a robust and durable bag (complete with three piece paddle, fin, leash and pump) makes it an ideal toy for your annual trip.

Here at McConks we have plenty of experience of travelling with inflatables. The bag itself – even with your SUP gear inside – will have extra room. So why not turn into a suitcase and stash some of your other belongings inside? There’s no reason you should get stung for excess baggage fees – as long as you keep under weight restrictions. And most airline staff won’t be aware that you actually have a board inside!

Once on the ground at your destination transport to accommodation should be no different. Again, because of the fact your iSUP is all contained in a bag – that’s no bigger than standard luggage – it’ll fit inside the hold of coach, boot of a taxi or even on the back of a motorbike if you secure it correctly. Then it’s a case of SUPing until your heart’s content under the warm sun.

Your return journey should then mirror, with all the benefits you made use of during the outbound flight, on the way home.

Overseas travel tips with your inflatable SUP:

  • Make sure you roll your inflatable SUP properly. Secure with any straps inside the bag and tighten accordingly.
  • If possible also secure the board’s pump and three piece paddle via the straps also.
  • Check luggage weight restrictions with your airline and make sure your inflatable gear (inside its bag) falls below.
  • The same applies as above if you stow other belongings inside your iSUP bag. Don’t come a cropper with excess luggage fees.
  • If your airline offers free carriage of sports equipment (some do) then it’d be worth taking this option.
  • Make sure you take your iSUP repair kit and know how to patch a hole – just in case!
  • Remember to take all those necessary bits – including the fin/fins and leash!
  • If you’re heading somewhere particularly hot then don’t leave your inflatable board in direct sun light when inflated.

If you have any questions relating to McConks SUP gear and travelling then hit us up via the usual channels.

Posted on Leave a comment

Stand up paddle boarding in rain – yes, you can!

At time of writing the heaven’s are open and there’s a good deal of moisture kicking about. The unprecedented good weather the UK’s enjoyed through the latter part of spring and early part of summer can certainly make you think Mother Nature’s been feeling generous and it’ll prolong. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like this. The physical position of the UK, in relation to our European neighbours and the seas/oceans, means our weather will always be in a state of flux as we have weather fronts sweeping across our nature from all corners. After all, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility to get flurries of snow in parts – even as late as we are now (June 2020).

You may be one of the large numbers who’ve recently purchased a stand up paddle board to maximise the glorious weather and the fact there’s a more stay at home vibe to current proceedings. (Note: we appreciate that some overseas countries are possibly going to allow visitors as travel restrictions are lifted). So what if you’ve had your new toy land but it’s pouring?

Those marketing types who ‘sell the dream’ would have you believe (if mainstream media is concerned) that SUP is a fair-weather pastime. (Some within the stand up paddle board industry as well for that matter). Not so! We can’t stress this enough. While it’s certainly lovely to be out paddling on calm water with sunny blue skies in effect this type of scenario is a ‘nice to have’. Absolutely make the most of good conditions but also, when it’s not so idyllic, also make the most of opportunities to get afloat.

If you’re not bothered about anything more than simply paddling on flat water when it’s glorious then this may not be applicable. For anyone looking to progress with SUP, however, then any seasoned paddler will tell you getting out in all weather is the only way to improve. Of course, technique and understanding of said technique will also help, but it’s time afloat as well. And with the right paddling apparel there’s really no reason a spot of rain should halt your SUPing.

As ever safety is paramount so we’re not suggesting take on conditions that are beyond your ability. But should you gaze out of the window to grey skies and rain don’t be put off. If anything, with air temperatures still warm, a few drips will serve to cool you off as a sweat’s worked up.

If you need any advice on stand up paddle board apparel then feel free to ask us.

Posted on Leave a comment

Choosing the right Mcconks stand up paddle board for the type of adventure SUP you have in mind.

Adventure SUP can be anything you want it to be: week long sojourns to the outer known; white water runs along your local patch, stopping off to camp along the way. Or more family orientated day trips to quiet coastal corners. Plus, everything else in between.

Depending on what type of adventure(s) you plan on doing McConks has the right kind of inflatable SUP for you. In fact, the adventurous spirit/ethos is deeply ingrained in the McConks brand. Whilst we’re all over other aspects of the discipline it’s this spirit of adventure that sits the best with us. Listed below are a few McConks iSUPs and how they fit the different types of adventure you’re possibly looking at.

The McConks Go Anywhere 10’6 is perfect for a couple of hours mini-adventure. It’s got enough room on deck to store a few essentials for your trip. Whilst glide and tracking will keep you straight line and true until you reach your destination.

For anyone into river running and white water SUP then McConks’ 11′ Go X Wild is the one. A super stable board, with a superior design that’s fit for purpose – and then some.

If you’re thinking of heading off for a longer sojourn then check out the McConks’ 11’4 for those in to day long adventures. With its longer length glide is improved so efficiency over greater distance is top shelf.

McConks’ 12’8 is choice for paddlers wanting to overnight; camping in the wilds, carry all your gear as you go, it may be multiple day trips or longer still. Whatever you’re thinking this iSUP will lap it up.

If you want the ultimate in touring adventure SUP then McConks’ 14′ Go Further is right on the money for multi-day trips. It eats up miles effortlessly whilst carrying you and all that necessary gear. There’re no compromises with the Go Further so why should you?

McConks Go Further 14" inflatable SUP
Kathy marston SUP instructor showing how well the McConks Go Further glides

If you need any advice on what McConks equipment will suit your type of adventure then get in touch.

Posted on Leave a comment

SUP tuition: level of stand up paddle boarder ability – level of SUP instructor.

Pics: Rapid Skills

This week, as you might know, is SUP Safety Week organised by the Above Water guys. The aim of SUP safety week is to raise awareness about all manner of stand up paddle boarding safety issues in light of unprecedented SUP kit sales in recent weeks.

With a cocktail of events – including people furloughed due to COVID19 having spare time, people having to stay closer to home as far as holidays/trips abroad go, and the recent good weather – people want to make the most of this summer. And many of them are keen to get outdoors on a SUP (particularly inflatables), meaning there are far more newbie paddlers than in recent years.

Many of these new paddlers have little prior knowledge of watersports and no memory bank of info relating to safety on the water. There are concerns that this could lead to issues such as increased numbers of riders needing rescue.

One way to avoid this is to get a lesson. Accredited stand up paddle board instructors will be able to show paddlers the ways and get them up and dipping blades efficiently, giving advice when and where it is safe to paddle as well as how to paddle safely.

There is one point to consider, however, if you’re in the mind of getting some coaching though. Much like stand up paddle boarding itself, SUP instructors have levels of experience themselves. Many instructors, possibly even the majority of instructors, are qualified to teach only the basics in a safe and controlled manner. Level 1 instructors, if we can call them that (different training bodies use different terms), are only qualified and insured to teach beginners in sheltered water environments, because of the limited experience they have. Should the elements conspire against you – which it often can in the UK, depending on Mother Nature’s moods – then chances are you could see postponement to your lesson and/or it cancelled altogether.

We’ve talked about wind, and paddling in it, with previous articles. But there are other elements – particularly if you’re coastal bound. Tide and wave/swell activity can also halt proceedings. Especially if you’re instructor in question isn’t qualified or experienced to coach within these environments.

Now don’t get us wrong. We’re not slating or criticising here – far from it – we’re not instructors ourselves so have no axe to grind. Anyone who’s taken the time to undergo training, get qualified and better themselves for the greater good of others should be commended – and most are on a training path to get more experience and be able to instruct in a wider range of conditions and environments. What we are saying is that if you want to stand the best chance of getting afloat and enjoying some coaching, whatever the conditions, then choose an instructor that has the right level of experience and qualifications for the type of paddling you want to do. This is especially the case if you’re wanting to develop your ability to get out and SUP in all weather post-series of lessons.

SUP is a versatile beast and much more than just flat, calm water. Paddling in wind, doing downwinders, SUPing on white water rivers and hucking drops, SUP surfing and so on are all paths you can follow. There’re are loads of avenues to branch off into with stand up paddle boarding. If taking things further than recreational paddling is in your mind then being able to develop skills under the watchful supervision of a more experienced instructor will see you make leaps and bounds. We’re not suggesting anybody go out and put themselves in harm’s way. But actually experiencing things like paddling into a headwind and knowing how to self rescue in waves, for instance, are things that can’t really be taught. You have to go through the process of it happening. Having someone close to hand who’s extremely familiar with what’s going on will only help you achieve this in as safe a manner as possible.

If you’re ambitious about your SUP future, there are instructors who are level 2 and level 3 who could take you out and give you important experience of all conditions. Do your research beforehand, and make sure you match your wants/needs with those coaches you’re considering and progress accordingly.

Happy and safe paddling!

Posted on Leave a comment

McConks windSUP/windsurf/wing surf/wing foil guide #8 – hydrofoil types and their differences.

We’ve talked a lot about hydrofoils in this series but we appreciate that those of you reading may yet have the knowledge regarding foils, types of foil and their differences. Whilst McConks doesn’t supply foils (yet) for this part of the windSUP/windsurf/wing surf/wing foil guide we thought it a good idea to shine a spotlight on them.

Hydrofoil parts

Hydrofoils are made up of five component parts: foil head (the bit that attaches to your board – either deep Tuttle or US Box track mount); foil mast (the upright strut); fuselage (the long strut which the foil mast attaches to and has front and rear wings attached); front wing and stabiliser (the foil’s rear wing).

A lot of companies manufacture their foils in modular fashion. Differing fuse lengths, mast lengths, front and stab wing sizes are all interchangeable meaning riders can mix ‘n’ match and find a set up that best suits their style or styles of riding.

Modular foil components and hydrofoil sizing

For wing foiling mast lengths usually between 70cm and 90cm long is best. The longer foil mast gives more leeway in terms of overfoiling (or cavitation) when flying along. SUP foilers, meanwhile, will tend to opt for 60cm-70cm foil masts as they’ll be riding in shallower water. Shorter masts can also be a bit zippier for tighter turns.

Different foil mast lengths – 90cm (left), 71cm (right)

Longer fuselages will help with earlier take offs and give better stability with shorter being better for manoeuvrability.

Different fuselage lengths and stabiliser wings – top, full carbon, bottom anodised alloy and G10

Front wings is where you find the majority lift from hydrofoils although rear stabiliser wings also provide this. With some rear stabs you can alter the angle of attack to induce earlier lift or more control. And depending on where you place the foil mast along the fuselage will also affect lift as well as overall feel of the foil. Being able to move the foil wing forward or back will allow riders to find the perfect balance. Centre of lift should ideally be between front and back legs but as you get better you may want a slight front foot bias. Modular foil products allow all of this tuning – you as the end user just need to tweak until you discover best fit.

Low aspect vs high aspect

In general you get two types of hydrofoil wing: low aspect and high aspect (you can also get medium aspect wings but these tend to lean towards either high or low aspect designs depending on the brand). Low aspect wings (generally) give earlier lift but are slightly slower (slow speed being relative in the grand scheme of foiling). They’re usually easier to manoeuvre and offer better rail to rail stability. Low aspect wings have a wider chord (nose to tail) and resemble shovels.

Different hydrofoil wing types

Higher aspect foil wings, in contrast, are thinner and narrower. They can still have considerable span – especially the types designed for super light wind or uber small wave performance – but are generally faster.

Materials

Most foil wings are manufactured in pre-preg carbon although some brands do offer alternative construction materials such as G-10. Carbon is generally seen as the highest performance material. A full carbon hydrofoil set up will offer the least amount of torsional flex so is arguably more efficient.

Deep Tuttle hydrofoil head (left), track plate head (right)

It’s not uncommon to find foils with a mix of aluminium and carbon. The foil mast and fuse are made from alloy whilst the wings remain carbon. Some companies also use steel. Full carbon foils are the most expensive whilst alloy/carbon are cheaper. For the everyday foiler carbon/alloy, from a reputable brand, will be more than adequate – in fact, you may never need to change to a full carbon set up. If you get into the high performance end of foiling, such as tricks and moves (where air time is a thing), then you do run the risk of breaking/bending foil parts. That said, plenty of riders do this kind of thing on non-carbon foils without issue.

Foils for winging

If you’re looking at wingfoiling, and wondering what foil to stump up for, then consider that winging is a low power discipline. Therefore a foil set up with a larger front wing surface area is a better call for average weight riders (80-90kg) looking to wing in moderate breeze (15-20 knots) and achieve the earliest amount of lift. Smaller stature wingers will get away with smaller wings.

As you progress, and your skills improve, it’ll be possible to drop the front foil wing size and increase elements like speed and/or manoeuvrability. But, keeping hold of your bigger foil wing will always be worthwhile if you plan on tackling super light breezes around 10-12 knots.

There are now lots of brands that produce hydrofoils for all kinds of flying. It’s a bit of a quagmire when you’re first starting out as you can’t demo kit if you can’t actually foil. There is, however, lots of advice available online, and here at McConks we have access to reputable knowledge so could point you in the right direction. We’d also suggest getting a lesson a goo idea. Wing foiling, SUP foiling and foiling in general is super fun. Gear has got a lot more user friendly so there’s no better time to learn. Hit us up with questions you might have about hydrofoil, wings or windSUP/windsurfing.

Posted on Leave a comment

Adventure SUP – McConks style

Adventure paddling can be anything you want. It doesn’t have to mean going all Bear Grylls, eating worms and living feral for days on end. It doesn’t even need to be a long duration. A few hours will often suffice in the right area.

Most new stand up paddle board owners will be content during those first few outings simply paddling along not straying that far from their original launch spot. Foundational skills will be developed at this point with progressing building blocks placed on top during the coming days. Once this is complete, and competence reached, however, what next?

This is where adventure SUP comes in. At first, it might be about investigating what’s round that next bend you’ve been eyeing up. Or perhaps circumnavigating that rock formation will be the choice. It mightn’t be covering any distance at all, instead choosing to paddle across to the opposite bank and set up camp there – content to just take it all in with a brew in hand.

For those able elongated journeys covering serious mileage is certainly doable aboard a SUP – this call to arms has been heard plenty of times. Search online and you’ll come across plenty of stories of stand up paddle boarders challenging themselves with distance and endurance paddles. The iconic Yukon 1000 is a case in point.

Stand up paddle board versatility is what makes these epic and mellower adventure paddles easy to accomplish. That upfront bungee cord, which mightn’t have seemed that important at the start of your SUP journey, suddenly reveals its usage for transporting paraphernalia like cooking utensils or sleeping gear for overnighters. As a board you’ve learned on you find the potential for SUP adventures with the same piece of equipment. There aren’t many other activities which can say the same.

As 2020’s summer of SUP surges forward there’ll no doubt be plenty of opportunity for paddling adventures aplenty. All you’ve got to do is decide what type of adventure floats your boat – or should that be board?

Posted on Leave a comment

SUP hacks, tips and tricks: Doing a downwinder – making wind your stand up paddle boarding friend.

We’ve talked about sea breezes if you’re thinking of paddling at coastal venues before. And we’ve talked about scoring the flattest water, and least blowy conditions, by seeking shelter. There’s lots of chat about wind currently doing the rounds and how not using it to good effect can be to the detriment of your SUP session or even become a life threatening issue. Being blown out to sea, for instance, can happen to those unaware.

Wind, though, can be your friend if you let it. And we don’t mean in a windsurf, windSUP or wing surf kind of way – we’re still talking conventional stand up paddle boarding here.

Watermen and women who discovered SUP over ten years ago were using the wind to propel themselves forwards on a journey. With gusts at their backs paddlers would head off with aims of not only being driven downwind (as is the term) they’d also be aiming to catch rolling swell, ‘bumps’, and ride them much like a surfer will ride a breaking wave. The act of downwinding is very much a thing within SUP and can be taken to extreme lengths for those with experience.

Downwind paddling doesn’t have to be extreme, however. With planning and thought, coupled with a decent skillset, stand up paddlers can ‘do a downwinder’ albeit in mellower form.

Onshore wind

With wind blowing onto your place of launch it’s possible to head out and paddle straight into those gusts. It’ll be hard going, we’ll admit, and you’ll need to dig deep with your paddle to make headway. But persevere and after a short while you’ll have covered some distance. Then it’s a case of pivoting round and enjoying the fruits of your labour. Being huffed along can be super fun. If you can time it with catching bumps as well then all the better. Once back at point A, if you have enough energy, spin again and repeat.

Cross shore wind

Either blowing left to right, or right to left, wind from these quadrants will propel riders along their chosen stretch. This direction of wind is most preferable as you can put in at point A and with logistics sorted paddle some distance to point B. There it’ll be a case of taking your gear out and jumping in your transport with absolutely no into wind paddling at all. But as we say you’ll need to plan accordingly and make sure you have a means of transport at both ends.

Downwind stand up paddling can be some of the best SUP you can experience. With a decent set of skills in place, understanding of conditions and appropriate safety measures taken it’s a way to make use of blowy sessions without sticking a sail on your board or using a wing.

Things to consider before ‘doing a downwinder’

MAKE SURE YOU WERE A GOOD QUALITY LEASH (we put this in capitals for good reason!).

DON’T GO OUT IN OFFSHORE WINDS (this also needs to be reitterated!).

Paddle with a buddy or buddies.

Carry a means of communication like a mobile phone of VHF.

Make sure you know what the weather is going to do – get a forecast.

Understand tides and know tide times for the day.

Make sure your skills are up to the job in hand. Mellow wind strengths can be fun – you don’t need it to be blowing like a hoolie! DON’T TAKE ON CONDITIONS THAT ARE TOO EXTREME.

Sort your logistics. Have transport at either end of your downwind run.

Tell someone, or even multiple people, what you intend doing.

Have fun and embrace the wind!

The following video gives an example of where you can take your downwind SUP paddling, if you choose to.

Posted on Leave a comment

McConks windSUP/windsurf/wing surf/wing foil guide #7 – the truth about wings; power, power, power!

When wings exploded onto the scene (proper) in 2019 there was a lot of chat surrounding the size riders would need – specifically a 4m – and how this would be enough to harness most wind strengths whether in foil mode or non-foil mode). Anyone with experience of windsports, such as kitesurfing or windsurfing (particularly those from the real world), were sceptical. If it’s blowing 18-20knts, which was quoted by some companies as the wind band 4m wings started working in properly, then average weight windsurfers, for instance, would be looking to rig at least 6m sails. And an air filled product, such as a wing, isn’t going to be as efficient as a windsurfing sail due to it bending and contorting. A sail’s rigid mast, pre-cut shape and battens all combine to make a sail react with superior aerodynamic properties.

And so it comes to pass…With the start of 2020’s summer season (COVID aside) most brands touting 4m wings as the one product you need in your life have altered their message slightly and launched multiple sizes from around 3m with some companies offering up to 8m.

Having had extensive experience of wingsurfing McConks, and those who’ve helped by supplying feedback during the Go Fly prototyping process, all concur that wing sizes are more or less comparable to windsurfing sail sizes vs the given wind strength. For instance, if it’s 6m windsurfing weather then you’ll most likely be needing a 6m wing.

Of course, rider skill will play a part to certain degrees. An experienced wing foiler, who has the necessary pumping technique (pumping being the up and down motion of pulling in and letting out the wing as gusts hit, as well as being able to pump the foil) may be able to drop to a 5m in the same wind strength and possibly less over time. Lighter weight riders will likely be using smaller again. But it’s all relative; wings need power!

The more power you have the easier wing surfing/foiling is – certainly when starting out and progressing. Having your power source not connected to the board, whilst one of the benefits of winging (freedom of movement is a nice feeling), there’s nothing other than the wind to support riders whilst being propelled along. In light airs you don’t have as much support so winging becomes very much a balancing act. Add gusty breeze and choppy waters to the mix and the whole thing can be a chore.

McConks currently supplies the Go Fly 5m wing. It has a decent wind range with a 20 ish knot starting point for 85-90kg riders using a floaty wing foil board and large winged foil. Its upper range reaches around 30 knots so there’s plenty of stronger wind performance built in. The next few weeks will see a 6m Go Fly wing arrive which we’ll be testing. This should lower the bottom end wind range as well as making for more efficient and early foiling flights. Stay tuned on this as – we’ll report findings when we can.

Wings are certainly entertaining and do open up a whole world of additional conditions for getting wet. You just have to be realistic about your wants/needs when it comes to winging and act accordingly. If you have any questions about McConks’ Go Fly 5m, or 1.5m kiddy version, then let us know.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of McConks’ Ultimate Guide to windSUP/windsurf/wing surf/wing foil here

Posted on Leave a comment

Paddleboards still in stock!

So we have limited numbers in stock, but we have another container arriving on 3rd July, and then another arriving in August. So we’ll be keeping levels up this year.

These are the SUP boards that are in stock right now!

p.s. Unlike some companies, we don’t hold on to your money for weeks before we tell you we’re out of stock!

Posted on Leave a comment

Montenegro or bust | international paddleboarding destinations

Here at McConks HQ we’ve spent a happy hour reminiscing about our long-ago holiday to Montenegro following a post on SUP Hacks a while back.

It was a real adventure, which only came about because it was the location of that year’s Fat Face catalogue and Jen liked the look of it (true story!). Andy (and his wallet) were very relieved when Fat Face started shooting their catalogues closer to home.

Disclaimer: bear in mind that this was hmm, probably 10-15 years ago (ed: it was 2007 so lots will have changed), so everything is probably very different there now!

Baya Katorska

We flew into Dubrovnik, Croatia, as it was much cheaper than flying to Montenegro, hired a car and drove down to Baya Kotorska (Kotor Bay, named after the stunning Venetian town nestled in its south-east corner up against the mountains). We stayed for just over a week in Perast, a gorgeous smaller Venetian-era town on the Bay, a stunningly-beautiful unspoilt fjord – actually the southernmost fjord in Europe.


I’d love to think that it is still as unspoilt, but who knows. Our apartment there had 5 empty 5l bottles in the bathroom, which seemed strange when we arrived. Then the first evening there was no water after about 8pm. It didn’t turn on again until 8am the next day. Odd, but water problems happen… Then it happened again the next day and the next. It transpired that the water was turned off overnight across the country to reduce demand and the lady who rented us the apartment hadn’t warned us. She later claimed not to be aware of the problem, but it’s not normal to keep a stash of empty water bottles in the bathroom.

We had a gorgeous week; swimming, enjoying the scenery and going out on the water in our inflatable canoe. How I wish we could transport some McConks boards to our younger selves! Andy also ate his best ever seafood meal there…

Just in front of our apartment was an open-air restaurant on the waterfront. We were the only customers one evening when Andy thought he’d try the stuffed squid. We were assured that there was no problem. And then we waited and waited. The salad that we were going to eat alongside came, but no word of our main courses. Eventually, we ate it, in case they were waiting for us to finish before bringing the next course out. But no, we sat there, it got dark, we felt awkward, but being British didn’t like to question. The waiter was also clearly awkward about what was going on but didn’t know enough English to explain.

After forever (about 90 minutes), we heard a splash from the nearby pontoon and saw someone get out of a boat and head towards the kitchen. All of a sudden the place came alive. Noise and smells of squid being cooked. Shortly after the waiter brought our main courses and apologised for the delay. Turned out they’d run out of squid so they’d sent a boat out to catch some! Andy’s best ever squid – and squid is his most favourite seafood, so this was a good day.


Side note: Jen is veggie, and in those days, they really didn’t get the concept. She was offered salad, ‘yes please, sounds great’. ‘One lamb salad then coming up’, umm no. Generally, all that she could eat was plain grilled mushrooms on plain cooked rice. Both cooked beautifully but with no seasoning, sauces or anything. Or plates of boiled mountain greens. Healthy, but not very inspiring. The highlight was a meal that consisted of three very beautifully cooked, but very small, button mushrooms presented as a main course!


Coast to mountain road trip

The touristy and overpriced Sveti Stefan

Our adventure continued with a road trip. We headed down the coast a bit. Sveti Stefan, a tombolo (one for the geography geeks), would be an amazing paddle around, although I think the island itself is a luxury resort. Budva was already too spoilt and touristy for us then, so I dread to imagine what it’s like today. The real adventure came when we turned inland and headed for Durmitor National Park. All was going well, until a couple of hours into our journey, out in the middle of nowhere, all the road signs suddenly changed to the Cyrillic alphabet! Don’t forget this was in the days before sat-nav, and the map we were following most definitely did not feature the Cyrillic alphabet. After a few more rather tense hours, we arrived at Zabljak and drove around in disbelief. The hotel we’d thought sounded nice in the guide book looked like it was abandoned, with broken glass in the windows in the upper levels and the whole town looked (and felt) stuck in the Soviet era. You would not have been surprised to turn a corner and meet an army platoon marching towards you ready to mow you down. The surrounding countryside was stunning, and perhaps we just got off on the wrong foot, but the whole place gave us the heebie-jeebies, never more so than in the hotel-with-broken-window’s dining room at breakfast the next morning (yep, we stayed there, turned out it wasn’t abandoned!).

We’d heard lots of good things about the Durmitor National Park, but we never quite managed to see the best of it, which is apparently a ski area in the winter and an extreme sports mecca in the summer


Road trip – Mountains to Skadar

After a lovely stopover in Kolasin (on the tora river for the whitewater freaks), bar the steaming drunk coach of the national volleyball team mistaking our room for his in the middle of the night (thankfully we’d locked the door, but he was very persistent with trying to come in!), we travelled to Lake Skadar, the largest lake in southern Europe, and on the border with Albania. It is a beautiful lake, which we’d hoped to get out on with our canoe, but there was very firm advice not to, in case you inadvertently stayed into Albanian waters. Apparently they could be ‘hostile’ to such hapless tourists. No fear though, whilst enjoying lunch, a dapper old gent approached us and persuaded us to buy tickets for what turned out to be the most random boat trip of our lives. There were about 8 of us, including an American guy. Bush Jr had been just voted President and he couldn’t stop apologising for his fellow citizens (I imagine he’d welcome Bush with open arms now!). There was also an extremely nervous lady, who’s disposition was not helped by the captain. He drove along drinking cans of beer, chucking them over the side when they were empty (into the Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance), and then set the boat steering around in a circle while he went to do a wee. It was hilarious, although the poor nervous lady was hysterical and thought she was going to die.

The last few days of our holiday passed very pleasantly, we ended up back in Perast for the last couple of days as we enjoyed the scenery so much. We’d planned to have a few days in Dubrovnik, but we always end up choosing water over city. Our very last bit of adventure was driving back through Croatia heading for the airport. Andy overtook crossing a solid white line (tut tut), and got spotted by some Croatian police who were not impressed. They pulled us over, and with a very strong language barrier indicated that we should pay a fine. We had never had any Croatian money, as all we’d done was drive the hour to the Montenegrin border. It took much gesticulating and apologising to convince them we had no money. Initially they kept crossing out the sum they’d said, and lowering the amount, but nothing is nothing whichever way you look at it. At one point there was a suggestion that we would be escorted to a cash point, which we didn’t really have time for as we had a plane to catch. Eventually though they realised they were wasting time that
could have been spent getting money out of more lucrative victims and drove off in disgust.

We had such an eventful, but equally amazing holiday there, and we often talk about going back, with a car full of paddle boards! One to look forward to when life returns to a little more normal. There were many signs then of the recent conflicts, although there was plenty of European and US donor aid investment going into the area. Sadly we know that there’s a massive new cruise ship terminal there. But hopefully the collapse of cruise ship trade will put paid to that!

But it’s a SUP hotspot. Do it if you’re even vaguely interested!

Posted on Leave a comment

The warming of the weather: week Mon 22 Jun – Wed 1 July 2020.

At time of writing the weather’s currently on the cooler side with much in the way of rain showers and the occasional thunderstorm. For the time of year this isn’t unusual. What mostly follows periods of warm, sunny conditions are cooler, slightly wetter conditions. But, the Met Office is suggesting there’re signs of a return to warmer, sunnier days in the not too distant future. We quote:

‘There are signs of a more settled and dry spell of weather becoming established for many parts towards the middle part of the first week. It will probably become generally warm, perhaps very warm in places, especially for southeastern areas.’

Why are we reporting this? Most new stand up paddlers aren’t from watersports backgrounds where hanging about on wind swept beaches is the norm. Knowing how to use the elements, such as breeze, is something you get used to in time. For the short term those paddlers looking to take first tentative strokes or build on foundations want brighter, calmer, warmer weather which, we’ll admit, is far more enticing for getting afloat.

10 day trend with Alex Deakin

What does the weather have in store for us over the next 10 days? Find out with Alex Deakin

Posted by Met Office on Wednesday, June 17, 2020

There are still caveats to the above prediction, however. If you’re coastal bound then beware of sea breezes which occur as the land warms and cooler air rushes in from the sea. A seemingly calm forecast might not be the case upon arrival at the beach if you’re not taking this into consideration. Earlier, morning sessions, or late evening paddles are usually a better bet for calmer water.

So, if you’ve just gotten hold of your new stand up paddle board gear, and/or you’ve only been out a few times since acquiring your spangly new SUP then you could be in for a good few days to get those paddling muscles working.

As always, if you need a hand with anything SUP kit related or have queries relating to conditions and what you should be looking out for then let us know.

Posted on Leave a comment

Yogis stand up – top tips for choosing SUP Yoga gear.

Using a stand up paddle board for Yoga, or rather an inflatable floating platform (as not all Yoga ‘boards’ are actually boards) has been a ‘thing’ for a while now. With SUP’s current momentum, however, there’s a surge of interest in this area of stand up paddle boarding. Here’re a few points to consider when choosing relevant SUP kit for practising Yoga.

Width/volume

The most important things with SUP Yoga boards are width and volume, which equate to stability. Depending on your level of Yoga skill board choice should (mainly) be determined by these factors. More advanced Yogis may want narrower, lower volume platforms to increase the challenge. Also, the body of water you’re intending to perform upon should be a consideration. Choppier, open water venues, that’re exposed to the elements will require more stable craft for instance.

Durability

The durability and robust nature of your chosen Yoga SUP is another key factor. If you’re intending to raft up, where the board may be bouncing and rubbing against hard surfaces, such as quaysides, river banks and other boards, then a hard wearing PVC skin, such as you find with McConks’ inflatable range, is an important consideration. You may also be falling, which requires clambering back aboard. Lesser quality products will see deck pads start to become quickly unglued from the deck as you drag your torso and knees back onboard.

Storage/stowage

Many inflatables come with bungee cord on the deck for stowing your essentials, such as water bottles, footwear and drybags. If you’re into SUP Yoga having options for keeping your belongings above water is a point to consider. Also, securing your paddle whilst you practise Yoga needs to be carefully looked at. The last thing you want is your main form of propulsion to slide off into the depths.

Connectivity

By connectivity, we’re referring to your leash. Safety when going afloat – for any type of SUP – should be paramount. When practising SUP Yoga wearing a buoyancy aid isn’t really conducive to efficiency. A BA will get in the way of you being able to pose so there needs to be another way to connect to your biggest form of flotation. A decent coiled leash will therefore be choice. It doesn’t need to be attached to the board’s rear either. You can couple to the handle of your SUP which makes for easier posing.

The paddle

We’ve talked about making sure you having an adequate way of staying in contact with your board whilst you indulge. It might also be worth looking at adjustable paddles as these can collapse down for easier stowing. As much as you’re looking to use your floating platform for SUP Yoga you’ll most likely be wanting to actually paddle in conventional stand up paddle boarding mode at some point. With that in mind it’s your paddle that’s super important so getting hold of the best type you can is a good idea.

Posted on Leave a comment

Video: Rapid Skills coaching run through how to begin stand up paddle boarding.

If you haven’t come across Rapid Skills coaching before they’re a top notch kayak, SUP and guiding company run by Josh Telling and Tom Botterill. Both have extensive experience in paddle sports, guiding and working in the outdoors. They offer guided trips all over the UK, plus a number of overseas destinations, and coaching to suit all levels. Oh, and they just happen to endorse McConks SUP gear, which we obviously approve of.

Tom recently did a beginner stand up paddle boarding video and posted it to the Rapid Skills Facbook page. In the vid Tom runs through a few different points to get you up and paddling in no time. You can check out the video below.

On #techniquetuesday here's a video filmed by Tom a month or so ago about Paddle Board basicsDon't forget we can offer SUP coaching sessions for those with their own gear looking for all the little tips and tricks to get the most out of it!Palm Equipment | McConks | Canoe and Kayak Store

Posted by Rapid Skills on Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Posted on Leave a comment

McConks windSUP/windsurf/wing surf/wing foil guide #6 – kiddy windsurfing and the McConks Go Free 9’8

If you’re thinking about teaching your kids to windsurf then you’d do a lot worse than showing them the ways with an applicable inflatable board – such as McConks’ 9’8 Go Free crossover SUP. Whilst the Go Free is great for adults, who also fancy a dabble with the windier end of stand up, it’s perfect for kids as well. Here’s why:

Firstly, the Go Free is an air board meaning should a rider stumble and trip then it’s a much softer surface to land on with more of a bounce than you’d get with a hard board. Inflatables also don’t scuff skin. A non-abrasive surface is therefore kinder to sensitive skin.

The Go Free 9’8 has three different fin boxes; one centrally located US style type and two Click Fin side bites. This means you can remove the larger centre fin and run the board using only those smaller sides. That’s particularly good for shallow water windsurfing. Avoiding deeper stretches will inspire more confidence in children and aid the learning process. And even when removing the centre fin, which will give efficient directional stability for adults, the hard rubber release edge on the hindquarter’s rail of the Go Free will aid straight-line tracking, thereby offsetting not having the middle fin in its box.

Speaking about the hard release edge; upwind ability is improved even without having something like a daggerboard or secondary fin, placed further along the hull’s centre line towards the nose, in place. This rubber edge is sort of halfway house but will the Go Free 9’8 track better on close haul points of sail. For those children at this stage, who’re developing their skills, being able to ‘point’ upwind more efficiently is a winner.

Different footstrap options, with the Go Free‘s inboard/outboard settings, are brilliant to get your offspring used to fixed stance sailing – even without actually planing. Adults, of course, can put the straps outboard with a quick and simple swap out. For kids, being able to stand more inboard, will give a ‘feel’ and help develop that all-important muscle memory.

The McConks Go Free 9’8 is fast, even at low speed. Whilst it’s composed for beginners as your kids improve (and adults for that matter) and are looking to generate speed it’s a board that’ll accommodate. To the point where it’ll take riders from simply floating to proper planing windsurfing.

McConks’ 9’8 Go Free isn’t prone to dinging like hard windsurf/windSUP boards. Kids and adults alike will drop their rig often but it’ll just bounce off. Also, spatial awareness isn’t as heightened during the learning process. There’s a likelihood you’ll crash the board. Being inflatable should ensure no real damage occurs though.

We’ll admit that hard windsurfing boards do have a performance edge (just). But for kids learning how to windsurf and progress you can’t really beat an inflatable like the McConks Go Free 9’8.

Top tips for getting your kids windsurfing

  • Take things slow. Let them ‘drive’ and make it more about fun than anything else.
  • Use a lightweight, preferably kiddy specific sail, boom and mast that’ll have dimensions suitable for little hands and limbs.
  • Aim for a shallower stretch of water and avoid strong flow or tide.
  • Make sure your kids wear a buoyancy aid, wetsuit and helmet if necessary.
  • Attach a tether, such as a rope, to stop them drifting off downwind but still giving a degree of independence.
  • Don’t bombard your kids with too much technical info – they’re way more intuitive than you’d think.
  • Laugh about the learning process. If they fall off keep it light and not serious.
  • Keep an eye on children getting too cold – even on the warmest days they’ll feel a chill after a short while.
  • Aim to get them windsurfing regularly. The more your kids windsurf the quicker they’ll progress.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of McConks’ Ultimate Guide to windsurfing, windSUP, wing surfing and wing foiling here.

Posted on Leave a comment

McConks windSUP/windsurf/wing surf/wing foil guide #5 – wings on land, surf skate style: an introduction.

For some, in tandem with on water stand up paddle boarding, comes land paddling. The act of riding (usually) a longboard style skateboard with a ‘stick’ in hand is indeed part of the same sport. Much like your usual floating SUP shenanigans, land paddling uses the ‘paddle’ and ‘stroke’ to propel riders forward. It’s a good method for cross-training and keeping that stand up paddling muscle memory tuned up during off water periods.

The addition of hydrofoils and wings has seen SUP – an already super versatile activity – become even more so. Now flying through the air, above the water, is an evolution of ‘connected to water SUP’ that a good many already do and lots more are starting to get involved with.

Just as land paddling was an extension of floating stand up so wing surf skating is an extension of wing foiling. Wings have truly added an additional element to SUP which when coupled with the right board and applicable weather conditions will see much fun to be had away from the water. It’s also a great way to familiarise yourself with the wing itself and how your new windy engine needs to be manoeuvred when you eventually take it to the water. Hand placements can all be practised in this way giving a head start. It doesn’t stop there either. Pair your McConks Go Fly 5m wing with a skimboard, snowboard, skis or even ice skates, if you have ready access to these types of riding arena, and you’re covered for all eventualities weather wise.

It should be noted that wing skating isn’t quite the same as winging on water – this much should be obvious. First of all, you’re riding on Terra Firma which is hard. Should you bail there’s packed tarmac to land on that’s going to hurt a little more than splashing into water. Also, whilst your McConks wing surfing wing is robust and tough, asphalt scuffs can do damage so you’d be better, at least during first time runs, to aim for grassy areas which won’t ding as much should you drop your Go Fly wing.

If you’re keen to try a bit of wing skating then most forms of skateboard are applicable. That said a longer skateboard or specific land paddle sled, that’s a little wider , will yield best results. If you want to take things further maybe consider a mountain/all terrain board. Their bigger wheels are better for rougher ground. Although they’re usually heavier than skateboard decks so will require more power/wind in your wing to get them moving.

For those who become adept at wing skating the door’s wide open. Jumps/boosts and carving tricks are all possible. Wing surfing/wing foiling on water has barely had its surface scratched with wing skating on land even more so. Who knows what can be achieved in time…

Top tips for wing skating

  • Use a longboard skateboard or land paddle specific board for better stability.
  • Choose a grassy area with less rough/hard ground for your first runs.
  • Avoid downhills.
  • Wear a helmet, elbow pads, knee pads and other protection.
  • Wear appropriate footwear – land paddling and wing skating shouldn’t be done in your flip flops!
  • Stay away from others, go somewhere quiet – most people won’t appreciate what you’re doing and may even be alarmed.
  • Avoid fixed objects like trees, lampposts, stumps and similar.
  • Don’t drag your wing across rough surfaces as you’re likely to cause damage to your Go Fly.
  • Practise with just the wing first, getting some understanding of how to power up, depower and manoeuvre the Go Fly.
  • Make sure you wear your wing‘s wrist leash!

Posted on Leave a comment

McConks windSUP/windsurf/wing surf/wing foil guide #4 – the truth about wing foiling.

For anyone who keeps a keen eye on watersports trends and fashions, 2019 was the year that wing foiling really took off (pun intended!). Although wings have been around since the 80s, and some ‘mad scientists’ have continued to use wings since back in the day, it’s only recently that wings have really captured the watersports zeitgeist. And that’s for two key reasons – a. hydrofoils and b. inflatable technology.

Early incarnations of wings were made using similar canopy material to windsurf sails, the other notable difference being the wing‘s struts which were hard, much like windsurfing masts. With improved inflatable construction and efficiency, born of the inflatable stand up paddle board industry, this tech has been implemented with wings. Inflatable wing designs are now much lighter weight, easy to pack down and transport/store and arguably easier to use on the water – whether foiling or not.

(Wings and non-foil riding is a separate topic and one we’ll cover in a different article. For this post we’ll talk specifically about wing foiling).

So what exactly is wing foiling?

Simply put it’s plugging a modern hydrofoil into an applicable board (usually a foil ready SUP or hybrid foil specific board). Then the rider in question will hop aboard and use their wing – held aloft – to harness the power of breeze and be propelled along. At certain speeds (usually quite low with the right type of foil) the hydrofoil’s lift kicks in raising the rider and board above the water. As soon as this ‘release’ occurs everything turns silent and frictionless because of the lack of water contact. Wingers will be flying solely off the foil only using the board as a platform to perch and control the foil. In foiling mode manoeuvrability is greatly improved when compared to winging with a board stuck to the water. And the upwind and downwind capabilities of your equipment are far superior on foil to that of being off foil.

Having mastered the basics it’s then a choice of how to ride. Wingers can stick with those back and forth, upwind/downwind runs, possibly chucking in some foiling turns at either end. Others may have a bash at ‘moves’ such as jumping and the emerging foil style discipline – although that’s quite technical. The most popular route for wing foilers is into waves.

Using wings riders head out beyond breaking waves before turning round and heading back towards the beach to ride swells, just like in SUP foil mode. The only difference is wingers have this ‘thing’ in their hands. Having picked up a wave the trick is to luff the wing by holding onto the front strut handle with one hand, allowing it float behind the rider’s back on the breeze. This total depower and ‘forgetting’ of the wing allows foilers to use the power of each swell to keep them foiling and perform moves (at least those with skill) reminiscent of surfers (think carving), the only difference being it’s all done above water. Having completed a wave ride it’s then a case of carving board and foil round to face back out to sea, grabbing the wing simultaneously to utilise the wind’s power. This process is then repeated.

(Note: the above vid is Kai Lenny who has obviously spent considerable time honing his skills! This level of wing foiling won’t occur overnight and is simply and example of what you can do).

But is it hard to learn?

For first timers grabbing a wing and heading out their McConks inflatable SUP, without a hydrofoil, harnessing the wind and getting a feel for going back and forth is easily achievable. Riders WILL end up downwind to begin with which is to be expected. The trick is to use the board’s tail edge, by depressing it slightly, in conjunction with the wing‘s power to edge upwind.

On from that it’s then a case of learning how to foil. McConks doesn’t provide hydrofoils or foil boards (yet). A low aspect, shovel like foil (which is a touch slower and more stable), combined with a higher volume and fairly wide foil board will yield best results to start. If you can get a few tows behind a boat or jetski then this’ll give better a understanding of how the foil lifts and reacts.

Following this you may decide to test your foiling mettle in waves – just be sure NOT to go where others are when learning. SUP foiling is great fun when done in smaller, crumbly swells and will teach riders a lot about the foil’s reactivity.

With time on the water under your belt, both on foil (either behind a boat and/or in waves) and off, combined with wing wind exercises, such as learning how to change hands, you’ll be ready to pair the two in actual wingfoil mode soo enough.

There’re a few skills you’ll need to actually take off. Getting to your knees first, then powering up the wing a little will give stability and something to lean against as you pop to your feet. Once standing powering up the wing further, by sheeting in (without dipping the wing tips into the water causing a crash), will increase stability further. These are the exact movements you employ if wing riding aboard your McConks SUP without a foil. The key part next is to pump. Hopefully you’ll understand a bit about pumping from your time spent flying behind a board and/or on waves. Pumping is a case of weighting and unweighting the board to push the foil up and down thereby inducing water flow around the foil wings. Pumping the wing in tandem will also help (this is a skill you can practice on the beach and in non-foil mode also). Quick smart you’ll suddenly find the foil lifting and be flying above the water.

Written down the above sounds quite convoluted and technical – it is to a degree but not as hard as you might think if you take things step by step. For actual specific technique details check out the many videos online that’ll hopefully help. The below gives an example of how to get on foil with the McConks Go Fly 5m wing using the described technique above.

For any questions about the McConks Go Fly 5m wing get in touch.

You can read the parts of our windSUP/windsurf/wing surfing/wing foil articles by hitting the links below.

Stay tuned to the McConks blog for more about the windy side of SUP coming shortly –

McConks Go Free 9’8 windSUP/windsurfing/wing surfing board overview

McConks Go Fly 5m wing foiling/wing surfing wing overview

Kids and wings – why wings are good for your offspring learning the ways of windy SUP sports

Posted on Leave a comment

Amazing customers and awesome reviews

Lots of brands spend huge amounts of money on influencers to get instagram posts like this. But that’s not our style. Follow Indy_love her on Instagram if you want inspiration!

Posted on Leave a comment

Need a stand up paddle board? Course you do! McConks can help…

It’s an understatement and rather a cliche to say that the times we current live in are unprecedented. But they are definitely bizarre! From the stand up paddle board industry’s point of view it’s also the same. In the last few weeks, since lockdown restrictions were eased ever so slightly, demand for SUP equipment has gone through the roof. We’ve mentioned it previously, but just in case you missed it, McConks has never been so busy. For the month of June so far, we’re 700% up on the same period last year. And despite the downturn in the weather, there’s no downturn in enquiries and sales.

For a whole number of reasons people want stand up paddle boards in their lives, often, more than one, but in particular inflatables are in high demand. The benefits of iSUP has been promoted extensively so we’ll not bang on about it. Good weather, of course, has played its part, but so has having to be at home (or at least in the local vicinity), with restrictions imposed for overseas travel. And not being able to hire from many place has played it’s part. Events have conspired to provoke thoughts along the lines of: ‘what can I do outdoors, perhaps on the water, that’s fun and will enhance my staycation?‘. The natural conclusion for many (who may have previously seen SUP but been putting it off or hiring in the short term) is to purchase a stand up paddle board. The reduced spend on overseas holidays may have freed up a little money to go down this route as well.

It tells you something when the mainstream, broadsheet press has picked up the current SUP boom as well: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/stand-up-paddle-board-stocks-dry-up-as-new-fans-head-to-sea-btfss0r0b?fbclid=IwAR2JHsNilJYy8uFqAmijMHjkVF2m4hTUPtypk9DrO2pZ6YXy9vK8wnCwA-8

So if you’re looking to get hold of your first stand up paddle board package, upgrade to something more progressive or add to your quiver fear not! McConks SUP has stock and we can help. If you’re unsure what you’re looking at, need some help choosing or simply have general queries about SUP, get in touch as we’re only happy help. In the meantime check out McConks’ SUP web shop for a complete listing of products.

Posted on Leave a comment

Controlling your breath underwater | Breathe like a dolphin

World Ocean day for schools

If you’re one of the very many people a little fed up of home schooling, and your kids like the ocean, this is a winner!

A whole day of events planned for 08 June 2020, from rockpool rambles, to environmental awareness sessions with the Marine Conservation Society, to live Q&A sessions with marine experts.


Check out the webpage for the full programme, but there’s something for kids of all ages!


And for those of who practice watersports, the learn to breath like a dolphin session might be very useful!


Posted on Leave a comment

How do I find my nearest SUP instructor?

Where to get paddleboard lessons?

We always say getting a short lesson is the best start to your paddleboarding life. But it’s not always easy to find a SUP instructor near to you. The different accreditation bodies might have their own maps showing their accredited instructors. But if you don’t care whether your instructor is British Canoeing (BC), Water Skills Academy (WSA), British Standup Paddleboard Association (BSUPA) or Academy of Surf Instructors (ASI) accredited (and you probably don’t need to worry too much as they all have their weaknesses and strengths), then a single map that shows all of the SUP instructors might be of more use.

We agree, and that’s why we use some of our precious profits to sponsor SUPhubUK to develop the most up to date and complete set of maps of SUP instructors, SUP schools, SUP clubs and SUP launch places.

But it’s only as good as the information we get. If you know a local SUP company that’s not on the map whether it be a shop, instructor, school, club, please add them here.

Posted on Leave a comment

McConks windSUP/windsurf/wing surf/wing foil guide #3 – kiddy wings and why it’s so easy for children.

One of windsurfing’s biggest issues is the weight of the rig (sail, boom, mast). Even though over the years these issues have been addressed, and lighter and lighter materials have been used, the fact remains: windsurf sails and their associated component parts are still weighty. If you then consider as a newbie windsurfer you have to pull the rig out the water, with it lying just under the surface (so therefore has additional weight on top until it drains as you lift), it’s a hassle to learn. It should be said that uphauling technique doesn’t take long to master but it’s still an obstacle to overcome – even more so for children.

A large appealing part of wings is the sheer weightlessness of them. Wingsurfing wings also sit on top of the water and float, because they’re filled with air. So straight away you have two factors which are removed, when compared to windsurfing sails, that make the breezy end of riding boards on water quicker to master. And from a kiddy wingsurfing perspective this is an even bigger win.

McConks provide kiddy 1.5m wings specifically designed with your offspring in mind. But it shows how easy they are to wield when young children can lift and wave about the McConks full size 5m version (obviously in really light airs!). The fact remains, however: if you want to get your kids into blowy board riding, and/or you yourself fancy having another option for when the breeze picks up, you’d do a lot worse than getting hold of a wingsurfing wing.

For those with ambition, and the desire to progress, there’s the wing foiling end of the discipline whereby riders fly above the water in hydrofoil mode. So, craft stuck to the water, powered by a wing, or boards flying above the sea, powered by a wing; the choice is yours. Kids and adults apply here

For more info on wingsurfing, wingfoiling, windSUP and windsurfing check out the first two parts of this series below –

McConks Go Fly 5m wing overview

McConks 9’8 Go Free crossover SUP/windSUP/windsurf/wingsurf board over view

Posted on Leave a comment

Stand up paddle boarding hydration tips – it’s not just for performance paddlers!

We all need water; to survive; to refresh and to make us feel well. But hydration goes deeper than that – especially when something like stand up paddle boarding is concerned. It’s not just a case of glugging copious amounts of water either. There’s a bit more to it than that. Here’re tips for stand up paddle boarding hydration, whether you’re a recreational SUPer or hardcore paddler.

Make hydration your first thought

Rather than focusing on your SUP equipment making hydration your first thought is a much better way to enjoying longer stand up paddling sessions and raising your overall SUP game. Not only will this good hydration knock on to other aspects of your life.

Checking your hydration levels

It may be off putting but studying your own urine can tell you a lot about personal hydration levels. A well hydrated individual will have urine that’s clear and copious. If you don’t want to do this then make sure to keep drinking – simples!

Avoid caffeinated or sugary drinks

There’re plenty of energy drinks available, most of which aren’t that great. Filled with unnatural substances they’ll give you a quick hit, that may result in a ‘pick me up’, but ultimately you’ll crash again shortly after, in some cases feeling much the worse for wear. And actually they don’t really hydrate much. They can actually make you thirstier!

Water’s good – for shorter stand up paddle sessions

If you’re a recreational stand up paddler, who takes on short SUP journeys, or only indulges in family paddles, then water’s fine. You still need to hydrate. Any kind of vigorous exercise, even for short periods of time, will see your body lose moisture that’ll need replacing. So drink!

Add fruit to taste

If you’re not too fond of that watery taste then adding a slice of lemon or lime will give it a little zing and make it more appealing. Orange segments as well or if you really fancy going all out then why not plump for the whole St Clements option.

Electrolytes for longer SUP sojourns

Electrolyte mixed drinks can help replace loss of key bodily components as you ramp up the intensity and distance of your stand up paddling. They can also help with endurance so those with a penchant for long distance SUP would find favour with electrolyte drinks. A word of warning, however. Electrolytes shouldn’t be overdone because of their artificial sweeteners and sugary content.

Sip, sip and sip some more

Sipping regularly is the key to staying properly hydrated. Rather than gulping in one sipping at, for instance, 10-20 minute intervals, will see paddlers remain tip top. And this is even for paddlers leisurely cruising with a lower paddle cadence. If it’s sunny and warm then this becomes even more important.  And for SUP racers, as an example, interval sipping should be par for the course.

Don’t wait!

If you feel thirsty then it’s usually too late: you’re dry already. Hydrating will work but you’ll have lost the performance edge (if this is what’s required). Having ready access to your source of hydration is therefore key. A hydration pack, which you wear on your back, works well. Alternatively keep your water bottle in front, attached to a bungee, for easy access.

Hydrate fully to start

Before you begin your paddling session make sure you’re fully hydrated. If you’ve a penchant for a beer or two then diuretics like this will sap moisture from your body. Make sure you get enough hydration into your body if you’ve had alcohol the night before. Caffeine is the same. Even without this most people go through their regular days not fully hydrated. This results in loss of alertness and lack of energy. If you begin your SUP session without being hydrated then it’s uphill from the start.

Good habits pay dividends

The more you hydrate the more used the process you’ll become. Hydrating as a habit will only see positive effects and benefits so start with best foot forward and how you mean to go on. After all, correct hydration will see your everyday life benefit, not just SUP.

Reusable bottles

For any kind of hydration related ‘work’ it’s recommended to reuse your water bottle. We don’t want to be adding to the environmental impact of plastic waste and with a good water bottle, such as a stainless steel vacuum type, you can chill your drink and keep it tasting great all day.

Hyponatraemia

Hyponatraemia is where an individual sweats copiously and drinks plain water in excess to replace this lost moisture. It’s increasingly common for those who participate in SUP races – particularly long, hot SUP races. A lot like dehydration muscle cramps, tiredness and fatigue can be symptomatic of Hyponatraemia. If you’re SUP racing over considerable distance then adding sodium or consuming fluid in addition to salty foods can stop the onset.

Posted on Leave a comment

McConks SUP article round up May, 2020 – what you may have missed.

You can’t fail to have noticed how great the weather was in May, 2020. With lockdown restrictions easing so many people have been out and about and afloat. In fact, there’s been a MASSIVE influx of newbie SUP recruits all vying to get on the water – great! It’s also been busy on the McConks SUP blog, with plenty of new articles being published all with aims of inspiring, educating and stoking that SUP enthusiasm. Here’re a selection of what you may have missed – don’t forget to check back through all McConk’s stand up paddle boarding articles for additional SUP goodness.

Learning to SUP post-lockdown

Although we’re able to head outdoors there’re still a few things to keep in mind, such as social distancing. That said it’s definitely a good time for learning how to stand up paddle – it just may need to be done slightly differently. In this article you’ll find a bunch of tips for how you can safely learn the ways of SUP with post-lockdown rules in place.

DCIM\279GOPRO

Post-lockdown SUP gear checks

Speaking of getting afloat for paddling shenanigans post-lockdown; if you’ve yet to get on the water, but are planning to any time now, then you’ll be needing to give your stand up paddle boarding equipment a once over and quick MOT to make sure all’s in good working order. This post lists a few things to consider before putting in.

SUP’s just SUP – right?

This one looks at how stand up paddle boarding has evolved over the years, to the point where now: SUP’s just SUP – isn’t it? Check out the article to see if you agree.

SUP by Post: explained

Fancying the idea of owning your own McConks inflatable stand up paddle board but not 100% sure? No problem! SUP by Post aims to make heading off on SUP adventures as easy possible. Hit up this post for more info about SUP by Post.

Stand up paddle board jargon

Another one that’s applicable to those of you who’re new to SUP. Actually, even experienced paddlers may learn some new terminology from this post. Check it out.

DCIM\280GOPRO

Staycation 2020 and alternative ways to use your McConbks SUP

We all know that getting away abroad, for holidays and travel trips, will be so much harder in 2020. A lot of people won’t actually be leaving the UK at all, instead focusing on the good old staycation. This is why you need a McConks SUP in your life: to enhance your time next to the water. But wait! An inflatable stand up paddle board isn’t just for paddling. In this article you’ll find some suggestions about alternative uses for your iSUP.

Wingsurfing, windsurfing and windSUP – the ultimate guide

Here at McConks we provide a raft of stand up paddle boarding equipment and associated accessories for wide and varied ranges of use. What you mightn’t know much about (yet) is the McConks Go Free 9’8 crossover windSUP/windsurfing/wingsurfing/wing foiling board and McConks Go Fly 5m wingsurfing/wing foiling wing. We’re in the process of adding to this series but you can find the first two parts here and here. Stay tuned for more about wind related SUP.

National BBQ Week 2020

We love a good barbie here at McConks. And just recently was National BBQ Week 2020. Stand up paddle boards offer a great way to transport your barbie kit for a royal nosh up. And just because National BBQ Week 2020 has ended it doesn’t mean you can’t have plenty more hot coal cooking fun in the coming weeks and months.

SUP hacks, tips and tricks

Helping you get the most out of your stand up paddle boarding is a real focus for McConks. That’s why you’ll discover plenty of SUP hacks, tips and tricks articles which is an ongoing thing.

We’ve talked about how to find the flattest water for paddling, helping taller paddlers achieve the correct SUP paddle length, fitting Click Fin side fins and centre US Box fins. Lastly, you can find out how to fix your manual SUP pump’s pressure gauge in this post.

As we said at the start the above are just a selection of useful, informative and (hopefully) entertaining articles and posts you can find on the McConks blog (otherwise known as the knowledge hub). Let us know if there’s a topic you’d like us to cover.

Posted on Leave a comment

No hassle fin set up – attaching your McConks SUP centre fin in six easy steps.

We’ve talked about the simplicity of McConks’ Click Fin side fin system, which you can read here. If your McConks inflatable stand up paddle board has a US Box (single leading edge mounted screw head) then it’s just as hassle free to attach. Here ‘s how in six easy steps –

Place the screw plate in the box track via the gap at the centre of the fin box. We find that screwing it to the fin bolt first and using the fin bolt to drop it in place works for those less dextrous poeple (like us!)

Slide the screw plate towards the front of the box along the plate track. Again, you can use the fin bolt to do this if still attached, or if your fingers struggle to get in the box. (Note, if you are using one of our specialist 4.7″ river fin you’ll need to slide the screw plate backwards)

Slot the fin pin into the gap – make sure the fin’s the correct way round. Its angle (rake) should be leaning back towards the tail.

Slide the fin back towards the tail (or forwards towards the nose for the 4.7″ river fin) a short way to ensure it’s firmly secure in the track.

Rock the fin forwards and line up the screw hole with the screw plate you attached earlier.

Using your thumb and finger turn the screw until tight.

Once you’ve affixed the centre US Box fin you can tune according to your wants and needs by moving it forwards or backwards. Rule of thumb dictates the further forward your fin in the box is the more manoeuvrable your SUP will be. The further back you have your fin the less manoeuvrable it is. You can also change the ‘feel’ of your inflatable stand up paddle board by changing the size of your fin. Experimenting with different configurations is always worth doing to find your best fit.

Posted on Leave a comment

The easiest stand up paddle board fin system ever – McConks SUP Click Fins and how to fit.

We keep banging on about this, but we genuinely mean it: McConks SUP is here to make your SUP life and getting on the water as easy as it can possibly be! There are a bunch of products and solutions in McConks’ SUP shop to help with this, from electric SUP pumps to super easy SUP fin systems, such as our SUP Click Fins solution.

If you’re not aux fait with setting SUP fins up then it can be a faff. Click Fins makes light work of this with a simple tool-less system that literally takes seconds to complete. Click Fins are mostly used for the side bites we have on our iSUPs (the outer edge fins). We provide them in different sizes as fin accessories so you’re free to customise, swap out and tune your SUP fins as you see fit. SUP fins make a big difference in terms of feel and performance of your stand up paddle board. We’ll not get into this now as that’s a separate topic. Suffice to say if you feel like experimenting with different SUP fin types then you can with a McConks inflatable stand up paddle board.

Fitting your McConks Click Fins

Line up pins with holes and slot into box.

Push backwards into the fin box until you hear a click.

Check to make sure secure.

You’re done!

For additional security you can adjust the lug screws with a fin key if you wish. This might be worth it if you think you may be scraping the bottom such as on shallow river runs. You can pick up FCS keys from any good surf shop. You can also use hex keys if you haven’t got an FCS key, but FCS are American, so you’ll need an imperial Hex key set!

Posted on Leave a comment

Helping taller stand up paddlers to achieve correct SUP paddle length.

It’s long been established that too lengthy a SUP paddle shaft is detrimental to your joints and limbs – particularly your rotator cuff. Rotator cuff injuries can be pretty problematic and sometimes require surgery – especially if damage has occurred over a duration of time and the injury is severe. Some omay have you believe this is par for the course of being a stand up paddler. Yet there are things you can do to mitigate this injury.

During the early days of stand up longer SUP paddle shafts were the norm. But as SUPers (particularly performance riders such as racers) pushed the limits, more and more were best with injuries related to, and directly applicable to, damaged rotator cuffs.

Soon after, any stand up paddler aware of the problem began shortening the length of their paddle shaft to (hopefully) halt rotator cuff damage. As adjustable SUP paddles became more popular this got easier and didn’t require the use of hacksaws and glue guns. Cutting down fixed SUP paddle shafts can be strewn with errors if you’re not experienced.

This is all well and good if you’re an average height stand up paddle boarder. The industry, by and large, produces SUP equipment based on the average. Even shorter stature riders shouldn’t have too much issue these days nailing the correct paddle length either. There is, however, a bit of head scratcher if you’re a tall SUPer. In a lot of cases the longest of SUP paddles just aren’t quite long enough – especially if you’re 6′ plus.

McConks has always tried to address potential problems, no matter how small. We’re all about making stand up as easy and accessible as possible. Which is why we cater to, and provide SUP paddles for, the taller rider.

If you fall into this category then McConks SUP has carbon paddles that are suitable for you in our online shop. We can make our two and three piece SUP paddles adjustable between 220cm and 260cm. That’s 40cm longer than most brand’s paddles. They’re £180 including delivery so message us to find out more. In the meantime check out McConks’s SUP paddle range here.