Surfers Against Sewage say it on their web page: ‘Despite years of investment, sewage and agricultural pollution still plague the rivers and ocean. Evidence shows that we have a system that willfully ignores the worst pollution events in our country. Water companies continue to legally pollute UK waters exposing all-water users, as well as our delicate Ocean ecosystems to harm.’
It’s shocking in this day and age the amount of filth that still gets dumped into UK waters. Here at McConks we have firsthand experience of agricultural run off polluting locations we’ve visited. And we know friends of McConks have the same struggles with coastal locations where supposedly it’s OK to dump millions of gallons of effluent into the sea.
There’s also potentially a further, more ‘in the here and now’ risk with the COVID pandemic that’s causing worldwide turmoil. Little is known about the transmission of COVID-19 through dirty water but the testing programme has been abandoned.
If you feel strongly about the above, which let’s face it, all stand up paddlers are potentially affected, then the SAS petition to lobby the UK’s Secretary of State, George Eustice, is now available to sign on the Surfers Against Sewage website.
We wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment: ‘it’s time to end sewage pollution and restore our oceans and rivers’.
Tidal harbour that separates the mainland (Langstone) and Hayling Island. At low water the whole area becomes one big mud flat whereas at high you’ll discover blissful touring SUP conditions, with the right weather in the mix. Sometimes the downwinding can be good on an incoming tide coming from the Langstone Harbour side (west).
With light winds Chichester Harbour, across from Langstone to Hayling Island’s northern tip (Northney) and east towards Emsworth, can be a paddler’s dream. Glassy waters allow seabed gazing and there’s usually plenty of wildlife to observe. Sunrise and sunset paddles can be especially idyllic. The bridge across to Hayling can also be fun to float beneath, as long as you’re careful.
Shallow water, even at high tide, can sometimes be an issue as it never really gets that deep. Numerous wrecks dot the seabed and are worth keeping your distance from. Shellfish pots, and associated boat warps can cause tangles. As can mooring buoys with their tethered craft, which are abundant during summer months. Watch out for swans as well which can sometimes become territorial!
Put ins can be found both on the Langstone and Hayling sides although Langstone’s shore can offer easier access. If this is your choice, park next to the ever popular Ship Inn and launch from either the public slipway or next to the barrier. Be aware the car park gets very busy with customers of the Ship, other paddlers and people enjoying the general ambience. If it’s a particularly warm, sunny day you may not find a parking space at all. You could always try Langstone High Street (which isn’t as grandiose as its title suggests). This will lead you down towards the Royal Oak pub (another popular ale house) and an easy put in. Parking, however, can also be tricky here too. You can leave your vehicle in the main road layby and walk along the high street. Alternatively head across to Hayling, turn left along Northney Road, and drop your board in from here. You may also choose the car park within Northney Marina that leads to Northney slipway. This is the quietest launch spot although the marina can be gated and locked at certain times of the day.
As mentioned quayside locations of the Ship Inn and the Royal Oak offer spectacular views across the harbour for a post-SUP pint. Both have fully serviced restaurants that dish up typical pub fare. Being extremely popular means you may have to reserve a table during the busiest periods. Public toilets can also be found next to the Ship. On the Hayling side you’ll find a large petrol station that also has a small convenience store, Subway and Costa. Carry on towards Langston Quays Hotel, into the marina compound, and there’s the Salt Shack Café where you’ll be able to purchase coffee, cakes, savouries and soft drinks. Langstone Hotel itself does operate a bistro open to the public. But you’ll need to spruce up if you want to nosh here.
This part of Chichester Harbour can be extremely good for lazy paddling. With light winds and glassy waters meandering about atop a SUP ensures there’s plenty to see. Observing the crowds of Ship Inn/Royal Oak pub goers can be a nice way to people watch – just don’t fall off in front of the gallery! Next to the Royal Oak you’ll find the iconic old mill with a submerged wreck lying just beneath the water’s surface in front to scope out. A number of raised mud bank islands protrude from the depths that can have various forms of wildlife – seabirds for instance – roosting at times. The Hayling bridge can be worth a float beneath, but watch out for hitting its concrete pillars. If you keep going east you’ll eventually come to Emsworth where you’ll be able to stop for refreshments, whilst further along still is Thorney Island and round into Chichester Harbour proper (see description elsewhere). Some use this location to start their round Hayling circumnavigation, which can be 17 miles of bliss or pain, depending of how well timed it is with tides and/or weather forecasts. Head further east and you’ll eventually come to Emsworth where you can stop off right in the middle of town. be aware of tide though as Emsworth harbour becomes mostly mud as the water ebbs.
Further to our last overview article about the McConks HP2 and HP6 inflatable SUP pumps we got our friend Chris to do a head to head vid and show them in action. This highlights perfectly the speed and efficiency between the two pumps. Chris also gives a scenario for each where both models come into their own. Check out the vid below. And don’t forget if you have any questions about either of these products or other McConks wares give us a shout.
We’ll readily admit that inflating iSUPs over and over again can be arduous. In fact, for some it’s just too much. In this instance an electric pump may be a better call. Not everyone is Arnie after all. The fact is, however, that air boards rely on the correct amount pressure so you, the paddler, get the best performance possible out of your stand up paddle board when on the water.
You may have heard the term ‘deflection’ which refers to the weakest/bendiest point of inflatable SUPs. All iSUPs have this, regardless of how premium/quality the product in question is described. What is the case is how much of this bend depends very much on the quality of the stand up paddle in question. Better materials and technology equates to a more rigid platform and less deflection, which in turns delivers a more efficient experience.
The point about reducing deflection as much as possible isn’t just aimed at performance SUPers either. It’s something every paddler needs to be aware of and aim to reduce. In fact, we’d argue that beginners and intermediates need to reduce deflection of their iSUP MUCH more than the experienced. When you’re learning the ropes of something new the last thing needed is to be uphill struggling against your ‘tools’. It’s your ‘tool’s – in this case board, fin and paddle – that should be aiding your progress not hampering it. And speaking of ‘tools’…
SUP pumps come in many different shapes and sizes. Back in the day they were just single flow types that made the inflation process even longer than it is now. With advancements in technology manual iSUP pumps today are WAY more efficient. Take the McConks HP2 for instance. With its two way flow control you’ll get more air into your board at the start than you ever could previously. Having the ability to inflate via both the up and down motion of pumping means it’s lease arduous a process. As you get towards the correct PSI simply untwist the screw and revert back to single air flow action to finish up hardening your SUP.
But, you can go one step further. McConks’ double chambered HP6 manual iSUP pump, with three way air control, is the Mac Daddy of manual inflation tools. With its double chamber you get so much more air into the board quicker. And being able to adjust the amount of flow by three counts take a lot of strain of the rider doing the work. So more efficient, quicker and therefore less time faffing about on the beach. Also, you’ll be less fatigued from blowing your board up.
Bottom line is: if you can stump up the extra for the McConks HP6 manual iSUP pump then we’d recommend it. If you can’t, however, then no worries. The HP2 will still do a very good job. Whichever pump you choose you’ll be guaranteed an efficient ‘tool’ to help you on the way with your continuing stand up paddle journey.
We’re sure you’ll all have the seen the weather forecast by now. But just in case you haven’t it’s going to be hot! A return to summer proper if you will during the next few days. Having been rather autumnal of late, depending on where you’re located in the UK, there’ll be a blast of warm southerly air pushing up from the equator. This should extend all the way north to Scotland. Air temperatures in the south may hit mid-30s, so toasty it will be!
Why are we reporting this? Simples. From a stand up paddle boarding point of view it’ll be perfect conditions for getting afloat. We appreciate many new SUPers are still fair weather – no criticism. With that in mind fair weather you’ll be delivered, mostly, through today (Thursday July 30) and into the early part of the weekend. Tomorrow (Friday July 31) is when the warmest air will filter across so best to make the most of it if you can. Come Saturday afternoon, whilst by no means cold, it’ll revert back to what we’ve been experiencing of late.
So! Time to saddle up and get the kit ready for some (hopefully) sublime summer SUP. Check the Met Office weather trend vids below for the full picture.
Thames Sailing Club, Surbiton, Kingston-upon-Thames, London
Sheltered, inland river location situated in a built up suburban area close to Britain’s London capital city.
Conditions are very placid, for the most part. Even when storms blow through there’s very little water confusion. Headwinds can be a small issue but not to the same degree as coastal venues.
Recreational boaters/dinghy sailors who run out of the Thames Sailing Club, other water user such as kayakers. Some wildlife, such as swans, may put your SUP exploits on hold for a short time as they pass by.
Access is via the Thames Sailing Club – the oldest of type in the UK – who have (limited) onsite parking and a well tended club house. The club is right on the main road through Surbiton so is easy to locate. You’ll need to pay a launch fee or take part in one of the TSC SUP sessions.
The Thames Sailing Club has a bar, cafeteria and club house. Toilets and changing facilities are also available. It’s a members club, however, so you’ll need to book a SUP session to use what’s available.
This part of the Thames is a pretty, easy going location with not much in the way of hassle or hazard factor. It’s the gateway to other parts of the Thames, which is best taken on under the watchful eye of a qualified, experienced and knowledgeable leader/guide/instructor. The SUP side of Thames Sailing Club was set up by Brian Johncey, of Blue Chip fame, who established a great working relationship with the club. Via the TSC one of the UK’s biggest SUP races is held every year – Battle of the Thames – as well as the ever popular Blue Chip Inflation Day where many of the major iSUP brands have their products on display and available for demo. If you find yourself near the capital and still fancy a paddle then this could be the spot for you. For those not into stand up paddling shenanigans, there’s outdoor gallery seating to take a weight off.
Open ocean, Atlantic facing, tidal location with an estuary style river that works at high tide.
As you’d expect with Crantock facing the open Atlantic it’s a beach that gets its fair share of ground swell. Such is the case it can be great for SUP surfing with various sand banks lining up on different occasions to produce decent waves. The bank in front of the River Gannel mouth can be particularly good, however, there can also be a LOT of current here – partic on an ebbing tide. In contrast Crantock’s super mellow River Gannel, flat water spot, could be somewhere else entirely. At high tide it’s an idyllic touring SUP location, or beginner playground, with riders able to hop on the tidal conveyor belt all the way up to just outside Newquay. Time it right and navigate all the way back with the outgoing flow.
Tides and currents can be problematic if you aren’t aware – especially towards the River Gannel. Other water users need to be taken into account. And the huge sand dune you need to navigate to get onto Crantock beach should be given thought, at least as far as carrying your gear goes. Powerful swell should also be considered if there’s ‘weather’ in the mix.
Crantock is an easy beach to get to with a gradually narrowing country lane leading to the car park. Then it’s a case of summiting the massive sand dune before descending towards the beach on the other side. If the tide’s in the water’s edge is close. If not then you’ll need to walk further to access the put in.
Being two miles SW of Newquay does tend to see Crantock fairly busy during good weather. Locals looking to escape Newquay crowds will head here, along with the usual high season tourist melee.
Crantock Beach is overlooked by an RNLI lifeguard tower. You’ll also find public toilets and a fairly large car park. Back in the village there are two quaint pubs, a small supermarket and a couple of restaurants. Even though you’re super close to Surf City UK (Newquay) Crantock feels like a world away from the sometimes hedonistic hustle and bustle of town. A static caravan park also overlooks the beach.
There’s a super hollow right hander that breaks off the rocks at Pentire Head if the sand bars are lined up. In the river mouth there can also be a decent wave, which is more SUP and longboard friendly. In terms of quality it all depends how the currents have affected things. In the southern corner, with massive swells, is almost a mythical left. It’s an experts only wave though so best left alone. For flat water touring, and/or beginners, the River Gannel is idyllic. As the tide fills paddlers can ferry glide all the way up to just outside Newquay or simply stay around the shallower parts of the river working on their technique. With sunshine and light wind the Gannel is blissful. Crantock’s village itself is a sleepy affair. Of course, during busy summer months numbers of tourists increase but it’s much quieter than it’s rambunctious neighbour – even with Crantock being a mere stone’s throw away.
Ranging from monstrously big waves to more mellow surf conditions, with even a touch of flat water thrown in (usually summer) Gwithian can be a fun surf SUP spot or hardcore challenging put in – depending on what you’re after. Waves get progressively bigger as you move along towards Godrevy.
There’s a clump of rock, sitting to right as you look out from the cliff top car park, that submerges at high tide but starts to appear as the tide ebbs. It’s definitely one to keep clear of. At high water the beach all but disappears with big waves pounding foots of cliffs. If you walk towards Godrevy (north) you should still be able to get wet at high tide though. The waves themselves can also be hazardous as they tend to get pretty big on solid swells and unload ferociously as they hit the inside shallow section. Also, scrambling down the goat track, as some do, can be sketchy if wet and slippery.
As mentioned above you can choose to ascend via the goat track straight from parking or opt for the slightly longer walk along the cliff top, past the lifeguard hut, down to the beach below. Actually getting to Gwithian itself is relatively easy as you come in from Hayle and drive along the Towans road, following the signs. There’s a relatively long access road leading to the car park. For all intents and purposes Godrevy and Gwithian are opposite ends of the same beach.
Gwithian doesn’t get super crowded, generally. It’s a popular windsurfing spot which tends to see fairly large numbers on blowy days. Surfers don’t pack the place out and SUPers aren’t that frequent unless it’s an especially good forecast.
Amenities are pretty thin on the ground. There’s a surf school perched on the cliff top and lifeguard cover occurs during summer. Drive back towards town, however, and you’ll find a supermarket, Costa, McDonalds and M&S. Head imnto the countryside and you’ll discover plenty of pubs and such. Hayle itself also has restaurants, cafes and bars. Back the other way towards Gwithian village and you’ll find the Red River Inn which has a small grocer tagged onto the side. It gets super popular with diners and revellers alike. A beach café is accessed via Godrevy beach for more refreshment options.
Gwithian sits across St. Ives Bay, from St. Ives itself, and occupies the northern corner next to Godrevy. Slightly confusing Gwithian village is actually closest to Godrevy’s end whilst Gwithian is back towards Hayle. It’s a huge expanse of sand at low tide that links up to The Bluff and offers a multitude of peaks right the way along its length. Wave size increases progressively the closer to Godrevy you go. Waves can be significant in this part of the world, depending on the forecast, so be aware. Rips can also be fierce so know your onions on this front. Tides engulf the whole beach when in flood so best to wait it out for lower water, or head towards Godrevy. The water clarity can be amazing and with Godrevy Lighthouse keeping watch on the horizon, and the bay arcing round towards Carbis Bay and St. Ives, it’s a picturesque surfing spot with lots of appeal. You’re also not far from south coast facing beaches such as Marazion (St. Michael’s Mount) and Praa Sands giving plenty of options depending on the forecast. Carbis Bay, closest to St.Ives, probably offers the most shelter (usually) and The Lizard Peninsula is also readily accessible. All in, this area of Cornwall delivers a huge amount of options depending what you’re after – SUP or otherwise.
Inland reservoir that was created to feed the local canal network. Chasewater is now classed as a country park and offers a variety of watersports opportunities. Chase Sailing Club run SUP taster and improver sessions during summer.
Being an inland spot Chasewater is flat without tide. That said it’s fairly big (9 square metres) and as such can get quite choppy with windy conditions in the mix. It’s a big draw for local windsurfers and dinghy sailors and now a large windsurf foiling community. It’s still great for paddling, however, with plenty of nooks and crannies to explore.
Waterski and wakeboard boats are a common site on Chasewater. Whilst they have their own designated area they’re still worth keeping an eye out for. As mentioned above there’s also a big dinghy and windsurfing scene. These craft should be steered clear of. Other than that water temperature should be heeded. Inland lakes/reservoirs warm up fast with good weather but also cool down quickly. Weeds can be quite bad as well in some places.
Official access for stand up paddle boarding is on the shore where Chase Sailing Club stands. But if you’re prepared to walk you can launch from a multitude of places along the edge of Chasewater.
8 in summer dropping during off seasons.
Chase Sailing Club has a club house with changing facilities, showers and a bar/refreshment area. You need to be a member, however. During summer there are other food and drink outlets that can be found next to the kiddy playpark on the opposite bank. You’re also super close to Norton Canes, Burntwood, Brownhills and other villages where you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained off the water.
Chasewater is a fairly exposed stretch of inland water that attracts many types of outdoor enthusiast. In the past ten years the site has been reshaped to cater more for this with activities like mountain biking, hiking and watersports further encouraged. Now there’s a big SUP scene that goes hand in hand with dinghy sailing/windsurfing. It’s also a noted spot for wakeboarding and waterskiing. On any given day you’ll find a peaceful, calm bit of water that won’t tax you too much in terms of delivering full on conditions. During spells of breeze, however, it can be hard going for SUP with strong gusts puffing across the water. You’re best off sitting it out at this time, if you’re a progressing paddler, or attaching a sail (if you can) for some windSUP action. Chop in the middle of Chasewater can get quite big and for those with experience downwinding can be indulged. We also have it on good authority that winging is starting to feature.
Open ocean, Atlantic facing spot with a massive expanse of golden sand being in close proximity to Swansea (although you wouldn’t know it). The northern half of Rhossili Bay ‘Genith picks up most Atlantic swell and is the indicator break for many of the surrounding surf spots. It’s also notorious with big waves in the mix for its hellish paddle out with the onslaught of relentless white water.
Llangenith can throw up some fairly big surf – especially during winter. At 5km long there are peaks for everyone so even if conditions are good and there’re a few in you should be able to find some quiet space. As this is open water rips can occur at certain times whilst the wave type will change slightly through the tidal cycle. If you head south towards Rhossili there’s less size whereas the opposite rings true if you head north. All water craft are popular here, not just surfing and SUP. Llangenith can be good for windsurfing as well. E winds are offshore.
Rips, currents, other water users and some rocks at high tide. It can also be a bit dumpy with high water as the beach is steeper.
Drive (slowly) through the village and head towards Hillend campsite where you’ll find parking and beach access. Walk 200 yards across the sand dunes and you’re in. During high season the campsite and car park can get very busy.
10+ during good weather falling to around 2 in winter.
Hillend campsite has all the facilities you’d expect plus and onsite café and bar. In Llangenith village you’ll find the King’s Head pub which serves food and beverages. It’s not the biggest, however, and reaches capacity quickly. Across the road you’ll find PJ’s (surfing legend) Surf Shop which stocks all your surfing and SUP essentials.
Separating the men from the boys (and girls from the women) when a big swell pulses in ‘Genith is ferociously hard to paddle out back. At other times, when it’s less than 4ft, you’ll find a fairly mellow, easy going wave that’s great for learning to SUP surfing. Improvers will also be challenged whilst experts will find fun walls for all manner of carves. Llangenith is exposed and does get blown out quickly. The southern Rhossili end offers shelter from S wind with other breaks available around the peninsula working on various conditions. Overall Llangenith’s vibe is quite family and laid back during summer. There’s an almost Californian vibe surrounding the village and beach with plenty of dude and dudettes mixing/mingling with mum and dad types. If it should go flat there’s plenty of opportunity for SUP touring, with the imposing Worm’s Head rock formation offering potential for investigation if you know what you’re doing.
Atlantic facing tidal location flanked by a huge expanse of beach at low tide. Split from Saunton Sands, to the north, by the Taw & Torridge estuary, its 2 miles of sand is a draw for many visitors.
Although Westward Ho! technically sits at the mouth of the Bristol Channel it’s still a magnet for Atlantic born surf that can pulse in at any time of year. Being further up the coast it doesn’t get quite as much swell as it’s southern counterparts, yet it can still produce a decent SUP wave. Rolling in from way out back pulses wrap around Hartland Point and slingshot towards Westward Ho! beach. The waves tend to be more rolling in nature and therefore easier to catch. Upon hitting inside sand banks the surf will pitch and usually close out. When it goes flat there’s opportunity for recreation/touring paddling.
Rips at certain stages of tide and sizes of swell; rocks and reef to the southern end (town side); rocks, groynes and large boulders at high tide; strong currents flowing out of the estuary to the north; other water users (kitesurfers, windsurfers, kitesurfers); beach users.
Access is via the main car park in town or the Northam Burrows end which has parking next to the golf club.
8 in summer falling to around 1 in winter.
Plenty of facilities including cafes, pubs, amusement arcades, restaurants and such in town. Toilets can also be found here as well. There isn’t anything other than an ice cream truck at the Burrows end. A few surf and SUP school offer hire and tuition.
Westward Ho!, unlike its more popular neighbour Saunton Sands, isn’t quite the surf town you’d perceive. More a seaside resort the Ho! doesn’t attract wave riders in the same numbers as other more popular North Devon locations. As such it’s a peaceful surfing spot. The peak closest to town does get fairly busy as it’s walking distance from a lot of accommodation. Simply head towards the Burrows, however, and you’ll find less people in the water. The waves themselves are noted as being mellow with easy roll in take offs up to about 4ft. After that whitewater can be a bit relentless making paddle outs arduous. As swell hits the very inside it does tend to dump and close out. High tide sees the beach all but disappear, although riders can still get wet if they’re careful. When surf disappears WH can be nice for a spot of cruising. You can even paddle into the estuary if you know what you’re doing! Don’t underestimate the current flowing out of the estuary’s mouth. For further flat water touring head round to Appledore or across to Instow for an easy, white sand beach launch. If you’re into winging, kiting or windsurfing Westward Ho! can deliver some fun in westerly, onshore winds. Whereas many south western beaches aren’t doable in onshore breeze the wide expanse of beach means booting up and down, parallel to the sand is fine. Even with monster white water and waves outback navigating the inside section is still no problem. For swimmers there’s a tidal pool located on the rocks at the south end where you can indulge in some saltwater crawl, if that’s your bag. A number of villages surrounding the Ho! have decent pubs and eateries with Bideford itself having a selection also. If you’re after a quieter North Devon surf SUP spot, offering easy access within walking distance amenities Westward Ho! could be the spot for you.
Chichester shipping canal, Chichester, West Sussex
Inland, non-tidal placid flat water location.
Flat, sheltered, most shallow with little to moderate effects from weather.
Occasional small boat traffic, other paddlers, some river debris and wildlife to be aware of.
Access can be anywhere along the bank where easy put ins can be found. Mostly, however, paddlers launch from the main basin next to the canal office.
The main reception and office has a small café where refreshments can be purchased, as well as your pass for using the canal. It’s upkeep is charity based so the small launch fee of £6 goes towards maintenance. Parking can be found next to the basin although spaces are limited. You can also find some spaces in side roads although these are residential areas so respect should be given to those who live there. Sit on top kayak and SUP hire available.
Chichester’s shipping canal is, these days, quiet, tranquil, sheltered and blissful. Run by a trust it no longer is a busy shipping route instead caters for kayakers, stand up paddle boarders and outdoor lovers. It still links Chichester to the open water of Chichester Harbour and those who fancy can navigate their stand up paddle board toward the sea. For most, however, the canal offers flat, placid, calm water that’s little affected by weather conditions. Even in the strongest of gales the water remains flat – so much so that a number for local SUP racers use the canal for training runs when sea fronts are too choppy. Newbie paddle boarders will also be well served here as it’s a perfect training ground for developing skills.
Separated by a causeway there are two different locations here in one. On the west side you have a very sheltered, high water lagoon that runs parallel with premium properties and Hayling Island Sailing Club. The lagoon is super flat but only usable an hour or so either side of high water. On the open sea side you have the mouth of Chichester Harbour which features super strong tidal flows, big swell breaking (at times on the Winner Bank – a flint and chalk, shingle covered reef) and heavy boat/marine traffic. Further into the harbour there’s less flow with nooks and crannies aplenty to explore all the way north to Thorney Island and beyond on to Emsworth. But tide is a BIG factor.
Numerous boats and marine traffic, sailing club dinghies during race season (pretty much ten months of the year, extremely strong currents in the harbour mouth, big waves when groundswell hits the Winner bank and some rocks to avoid stepping on. The lagoon (or Creek as it’s affectionately known) dries out as the tide recedes leaving sand and mud flats.
Put ins are pretty simple and no hassle, as long as you’re a member of HISC (Hayling Island Sailing Club). There’s a barrier at the entrance just after Wittering Road which is normally open, but can have a sentry. This, however, takes you onto sailing club land. Parking can be tricky if you don’t have membership. A second, club card activated, barrier stops any non-HISC member getting vehicles further. Hayling’s RNLI lifeboat station is also to be found here. The crew require access at all times and won’t take kindly to being blocked in. An overflow car park can be found to the right but this is also HISC operated and can often be cordoned off. All said you can, if you can find a parking space, leave your car/van back on the road – as long as you’re not blocking driveways or parked on double yellow lines. It’s then a walk with your gear to access the spot. It can be worth it if you’re prepared to hike.
10 (with HISC members and locals who live here). 1 if you aren’t a member or don’t own a property that’s local.
HISC itself is one of the leading sailing clubs in the UK. It has a well-attended bar, fully serviced restaurant facilities, snack bar, onsite chandlery (selling SUP kit and spares), changing rooms – with hot showers and underfloor heating! There’s a large boat park and spaces for other watersports kit, including SUPs. BUT, and it’s a big but, you need to be a member or be signed in by other members to have use of these facilities. Spot checks are carried out which can catch the unaware. Other than this Sparkes Marina, which also lies on the western banks of the lagoon, has a chandlery, boat park, restaurant/bar (Drift), which is open to the public. Mistral UK is also based here. You could speak to them about launching from this side if you prefer.
Lagoon (the Creek) – Drying out at low water the lagoon is unique in the UK. It’s an extremely sheltered, knee to waist deep, stretch of water, that’s idyllic for learning, families and especially children wanting to get into watersports. Even though it’s a tidal spot it’s not dangerous, unlike Chichester Harbour entrance lying just over the causeway. For nervous newbies, starting to SUP, it’s awesome. The lagoon’s also the gateway to the rest of Chichester Harbour which, at high water, offers a plethora of mini inlets to investigate.
Chichester Harbour entrance – The Winner bank, lying around 100 yards off the beach, can throw up some decent SUP surfing conditions when there’s a swell running. But it’s a full on tidal location and only for experienced SUPers who know what they’re doing. At low water, when it’s slack tide, you get glassy, sheltered seas from the prevailing SW wind. But get it wrong and (especially) on an outgoing ebb you’ll be in the English Channel before you know it. Some paddlers use this location as a put in for jaunts across to West Wittering and up further in to the harbour to explore Chidham, Bosham and Dell Quay – the furthest E point you can get to. Alternatively, with strong E-NE winds, it’s possible to put in at Dell Quay and downwind all the way to HISC. This is a location definitely worth checking out but should be done so in the right way so as to avoid any unwanted ‘incidents’.
Everything from smooth glassy water, to solid ground swell surfing conditions and super windy, choppy seas, depending on time of year and forecast.
Strong tides, including rip currents, are ever present. When large waves swing in from the Atlantic swell can refract round to Carbis Bay. It’s not a west facing spot so does offer some shelter but this is still open water so should be approached as such. There are also some rocks flanking either end that should be made note of. As well as other water users. Northerly winds can significantly chop up the sea state.
Easy access with a car park (paid) right next to the put in that you access down a steep, narrow hill. It gets busy as the car park also serves the beach hotel/café/bistro/restaurant: Carbis Bay Hotel Beach Club Restaurant.
10 during good weather and summer.
The hotel beach café/restaurant serves food and drink, including takeaway, and has an attached beach shop selling various products including water shoes, fishing nets, and other typical fayre. The Ocean Sports Centre is also located at Carbis Bay who hire stand up paddle boards and running various training courses of every level.
Lying 1 mile to the east of Cornish artist/surf town St. Ives the small beach village of Carbis Bay offers idyllic paddle boarding conditions and some shelter from prevailing SW winds and open ocean swell. That said CB can still get a wave at times and is therefore good for practising SUP surfing if this is your bag. At low tide you can paddle west towards St. Ives itself, which can be seen in the distance, or round the opposite direction to Hayle river mouth. As the tide comes in exposed sand shrinks significantly so be aware. Training for the national UK SUP team has happened in the past on this beach, hosted by onsite Ocean Sports Centre. And Carbis Bay has also been the location for a number of SUP races. With north winds the beach gets very choppy and is best avoided, unless you’re a competent windsurfer/kitesurfing/wing foiler. The amazing light and general ambience/surf vibe of this part of the world makes St. Ives in general a magnet for tourists so expect it to be busy during high season and good weather. That said it’s worth a look for any SUPer as it can be as good as anywhere else in the world when conditions line up.
Everything from smooth glassy water, to solid ground swell surfing conditions and super windy, choppy seas.
Strong tides, heavy shore dump at high water, big swells at times, strong rips at times, sea defences at high tide, other water users (kitesurfers, windsurfers).
Note: At time of writing the local authorities have removed a whole bunch of revetment sea defences along the foreshore. This has impacted parking significantly, as well as increased coastal erosion. This is forecasted to increase as the sea takes back the land. How this impacts conditions on the water remains to be seen. It could be to the benefit, at least as far as waves go. The issue, however, as more beach gets washed away will be access.
Easy access with a car park (paid) right next to the put in.
The iconic Inn On The Beach pub perches right on the water’s edge and offers stunning views out across the English Channel. It’s also a great place to grab a bite or post-SUP pint. For those looking to make an evening of it the Inn serves up restaurant style dining. Behind the IOTB is a café offering snacks, simple meals and refreshments. You’ll also find public toilets here (there aren’t any changing facilities though). For those wanting further board sliding action a fairly decent skate park lies to the east of the put in although this can get busy. And if you’re into golf there’s a public, par three golf course and renowned Links private club west towards Langstone Harbour.
Hayling Island, to many, is the home of windsurfing. The sport was invented here by Peter Chilvers and continues to draw large crowds on breezy low tide days. Kitesurfers are also abundant and of late Hayling has become a centre of excellence for SUP. Whether you want idyllic, glassy flat water paddling, open ocean downwinding, accessible SUP surfing or fun touring options it can all be found depending on the forecast – which is half the battle. Knowing, understanding and interpreting weather, wind and wave data for Hayling Beachlands is key to scoring the type of SUP conditions you’re after. Get it right and the stars align. Get it wrong, however, and your session of SUP could be a right off. Info is forthcoming, however, with a number of SUP brands being based on the island, SUP Mag UK’s headquarters is here, three large sailing clubs can offer advice and a plethora of paddlers reside and frequent Hayling all of whom will be happy to impart their valuable knowledge.
Gently shelving sandy beach with various inshore and offshore sand bars that create lagoons and breaking waves at various states of tide. West Wittering also sits right on the entrance of Chichester Harbour, the further west you venture the more tidal current you’re likely to encounter.
Conditions, as with many other UK locations, are 100% weather dependant. With WW also being a coastal location it’s a venue that’ll change its ‘spots’ depending on the state of tide. When there’s a decent swell pulsing up the English Channel West Wittering can serve up some fun SUP surfing conditions (it can get quite big!). Higher waters tend to be best for waves as swell hits the shifting sand banks that meld and mould with tidal ebbs and flows. As seas recede you can still score surfing conditions but the walk to launch is that much longer. Lagoons also start to form with less water, one in particular called The Trench, which sees plenty of flat water windsurf and kitesurf action in a blow.
Tide/current can be an issue – especially with swell in the mix. As waves roll in and break the dispersed energy tends to run back out sea east to west causing paddlers to be dragged towards Chichester Harbour’s entrance. Sand bars formed offshore can cause undulations in bathymetry. It’s not unusual to find yourself facing ankle deep water as the seabed rises up sharply, even 300m offshore. There a few sea defence revetments inshore that can become submerged and appear again with tidal movements to be noted. Other water users can be problematic during busier periods.
Getting to the put in is easy, if expensive. West Wittering beach sits on private beach land which is church owned. The owners charge steep fees for parking vehicles. There’s also a watersports club onsite who regulate certain h2o activities due to it being a members paid club and honourary custodians of the land.
10 (especially in summer) falling to around 2-3 in colder months.
A café can be found to the west of the car park next to 2XS, the aforementioned watersports club, school, hire centre and shop. Here you can get a bite to eat and something to drink. Be prep’d for ques in summer! At 2XS you can rent SUPs and get BSUPA accredited lessons. In fact, 2XS is the HQ for BSUPA with Simon Bassett heading up both. The set up has public toilet facilities. Warm showers can be accessed for those willing to hand over some cash.
West Wittering is unique along this stretch of English Channel, south coast, real estate in that it’s a bona fide sandy beach, at all tidal states, that can be reminiscent of South Western (such as Conrwall/Devon) locations with surf in the mix. Afloat and WW can also boast some decent waves – especially during winter. Due to its lack of shorebreak it can also be the go to high water spot. If there’s a small groundy, not really showing at other beaches, head here and with long enough periodicity you may find a ridable wave. This is particularly the case during off season months. At other times it can be good to start your SUP touring journey, either heading round into Chi Harbour or further in the opposite direction towards East Wittering and Bracklesham. Keep going and ultimately you’ll reach Selsey Bill. Due to West Witts’ exposed nature it’s often affected by wind, even mild blows. Summer can see regular middle of day sea breezes so often, if you want calmer conditions, early mornings are the go. There’s a large SUP scene built up around the 2XS establishment and West Wittering so through high season you’ll most likely never be alone.
If you weren’t already aware McConks doesn’t just do SUP. We do everything that goes with SUP, including accessories, technical wear and casual wear. Our ethically sourced, organic clothing looks great whether you’re big ripper, SUP nipper or anyone in between.
There’s a lot out there about SUP safety; wearing a leash; wearing the correct least for your chosen paddling environment; wearing a buoyancy aid of PFD; making sure you actually wear your leash and know how to inflate your flotation device if it requires pulling a chord and so on. But what about if your leash fails? Or worse still your inflatable bursts – it’s not common but has happened in the past.
The fact is, if you’re heading much further than a few metres away from the bank or shoreline then you need to be prepared to swim. So the question you have to ask is: ‘can I feasibly swim my way back to safety from the distance I choose to paddle away from land?’.
Add to the mix weather, such as chop, swell, wind, current and tide and it becomes a whole different ball game. Placid water’s one thing but when you chuck elements into the mix that seemingly not far a distance may take on gargantuan mileage. Consider that fatigue may have set in and panic, which also saps strength, and the danger can be real.
Now don’t get us wrong. Were not trying to scaremonger. This is simply a consideration. For most of your SUP career you’ll be readily in touch with the best form of flotation (your board) without mishap. But we all know ‘stuff’ happens so keeping safety aspects in mind is always worthwhile.
Of course, you can offset chance by checking your gear’s in good working order and replacing what’s not. Don’t wait for the inevitable to happen if your leash looks worn. And make sure you patch that ding if needs be rather than run the risk of further damage.
But back to original point and swimming. The golden rule is don’t venture further than you can swim back, as already mentioned above. Paddling with others is also worthwhile so as to mitigate risk further. Stand up paddling is a safe enough sport that when practising with due diligence in mind won’t see things go all Pete Tong.
SUP Mag UK has helped with impartial feedback during the development process of the McConks Go Fly 5m wing off the back of our R&D programme that ran during the latter part of 2019/early 2020. Having gotten hold of initial versions of the Go Fly (of which they also published a review) the model currently on sale in McConks’ online shop (V4) is now up on SUPM’s website as its own write up. This originally appeared in their New Year edition although since there have been more sessions on the water with the Go Fly 5m – and some on land as well! After all, wings are versatile by nature and able to accommodate skate style or even snow style riding (if you hadn’t already scoped that).
Windsurfing can be a chore to learn, we’ll not lie. The biggest hurdle when you’re beginning your journey is hauling a heavy rig (sail, mast, boom) out of the water. Whilst much has been done by the windsurfing industry to make these components, and therefore the overall ‘engine’, as light as possible the issue remains – even more so if you’re a child.
A few years back some bright spark decided to invent inflatable windsurfing sails. It was about the same time wingsurfing wings were being redeveloped. McConks did put out their own version but for various reasons we had to hold fire. Now, however, we’re back in the game and able to offer the Go Sail inflatable windsurfing sail just in time for autumn blows (in fact, blows at any time of year!).
One of the biggest benefits of an inflatable windsurfing sail is that it doesn’t sink. Instead, floating on top of the water, there’s little resistance when you’re trying to lift it. Combine that with the lightweight nature of an air-filled product and you have something that’ll get you vrooming back and forth quick smart.
The Go Sail isn’t critical to sheeting angles either (i.e. how you hold the sail in relation to the wind direction). Where a hard rig needs to be positioned correctly for the wind to power it up and drive your forwards the Go Sail can be slightly off axis yet not buck riders into the drink. This is great during the learning process with quick progression guaranteed.
For those with existing windsurf experience the Go Sail is a bit of fun for light/medium strong airs. Quicker to set up than a standard windsurfing rig it inflates in a matter of minutes and attaches to any inflatable SUP or hard board with rig attachment option. Then it’s a case of messing about on the brine.
Swithin’s weather lore proverb suggests if it rains on St Swithin’s Day then it’ll remain the same for 40 days and 40 nights. From a forecaster’s point of view this should be the easiest period to predict conditions then – if only it were that simple!
Whilst yesterday (when St Swithin’s Day actually fell) was largely overcast across the UK, with some showers in the mix, the predicted warming of proceedings come this weekend is still on the cards, although this isn’t without caveats. There’ll be a north/south divide with temperatures still remaining cooler as you go up country whilst lower down you’ll find the aforementioned higher thermometer readings and better chances of sun.
Moving forwards, however, and good conditions will only last a few days before it becomes changeable once again. The semi-permanent Azores High really wants to dominate but all the while low pressure systems are toppling in from above squeezing it back out into the Atlantic. So basically St Swithin’s lore doesn’t ring true on this occasion…
From a paddling point of view there’ll be light winds in effect for most. Sea breezes may still show up at coastal locations during middle parts of the day so keep an eye out. Inland and you’ll have much better chance of scoring windless SUP right through the following days. If you haven’t been able to paddle during this week then you’ll be good for some SUP action in the coming days.
For next week it’s all change once again with up and down weather. There’ll still be bouts of showers and gusts of breeze will blow up on occasion. By and large it’ll still be worth a float if you can though. Wall to wall sunshine just may be a little hard to come by.
Not all of us have oodles of time to paddle. In fact, with the nation being encouraged back to work post-COVID lockdown, time may be in short supply full stop. Yet you still want to make use of your spangly new SUP toy whenever you can. Particularly as we’re not quite done with summer yet and we’re sure there’ll be a return to sun soon.
Splash ‘n’ dashing has long been a thing with strapped for time watersports nuts. We know a few riders who practise multiple disciplines who have to use this method to score floats during busy periods. McConks asked what their top tips for splash ‘n’ dash stand up paddle boarding sessions are.
Keep it inflated (if it’s an iSUP)
This is perhaps rather obvious but if you’re the owner of an inflatable stand up paddle board then keep it inflated. Most good air boards will cope with this so have no fear. Then there’s no faffing about trying to blow it up when you have a small window. Chuck it on the roof or in the van and off you go.
Have all your kit in one place
Keep your paddling gear in one place. Make sure your paddle, board, leash, fin and wet gear is all in the same space ready to go at a moment’s notice. There’s nothing worse than trying to locate your wetsuit, for instance, when you’re aiming to get a move on. For additional speed keep your fins locked in and your leash attached.
If you’ve suddenly an hour to SUP now’s not the time for swanning off on long winded paddle missions. Get to your put in quick smart, get wet, then get gone. You may have aspirations of coastal paddling but if that’s not doable stick to the canal.
Upon arrival at your chosen paddling location it’s time to lock and load, quick smart. Grab your gear, suit up and off you go. Dithering about on the bank, umming and ahhing whether to get in not wastes time. You’ve got the opportunity so make the most of it.
Have a plan (in your head at least)
Knowing a SUP spot (well) is key. Having recce’d the area previously you should have a good idea of how far you can paddle before having to turn around and come back. Or, if it’s a circular route, you’ll be aware of how long it takes. Having a loose plan will see you maximise your session.
Don’t be tempted off your chosen path
Whilst knowing the layout of your area is important splash ‘n’ dash sessions aren’t the ones for checking out new routes – save that for another day when you have more time.
Know the weather
If weather can make or break your time afloat then know, understand and be able to interpret what forecast information means for your window of paddling opportunity. When Mother Nature’s being a pain look at alternatives or in some cases abort altogether. Better to sit it out with unfavourable conditions in the mix, top up brownie points and live to SUP another day…
Why have we been talking about the weather in recent posts? Mainly because we appreciate not everyone will look at forecasts, and interpret them, in the same way as more experienced paddlers. For instance, this week looks set to be cool, with a degree of rain but (mostly) light winds. Some may hear the word ‘cool’ and think it isn’t a time for SUP needing, instead, wall to wall sunshine and hot temperatures. This isn’t actually true. Stand up paddle boarding weather in the UK is a temperamental mistress to say the least, which is why there’s plenty of apparel available for when conditions are less than ideal. Technical SUP wear will keep you insulated and out there even when it’s not Med-like. And let’s be honest, this is UK summer time so even with a spot of moisture in the atmosphere it’s relatively warm and as such you shouldn’t be deferred. If you’re working up a sweat whilst SUPing then it’ll serve to cool you down as well.
But back to actual weather and broadly winds will be light going by Met Office predictions. And the good news is thermometer readings look likely to rise again come the weekend. So if you’re really fair weather then there’s light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.
If you have any questions about paddling in ‘weather’ and what technical SUP apparel may benefit your paddling then get in touch.
When you’re in the market for a new stand up paddle board the first thing you’ll probably be looking at are dimensions: length, width and volume being the main identifiers. The problem, however, is that you may get hung up on the numbers too much when actually it’s answering a few simple questions in your own head that may better determine what style of board you should plump for.
SUP board dimensions only tell part of the story. In some brand cases – particularly the cheaper end of the spectrum – dimensions won’t mean a thing. With quality control out the window you can bet your bottom Dollar that upon taking a measuring tool to these products the dims will be way off what’s quoted. (In McConks’ case we check all our wares and have a good working relationship with our suppliers that helps guarantee what we print on the box is indeed what you get. This means we can monitor, check and make sure everything’s as it should be).
Overall shape of a stand up paddle board, as well as tail, rail, hull contours (if it’s a hard board) and nose type will dictate what you experience on the water much more than numbers alone. Some sub-9′ SUPs, for instance, will track and glide much better than a bigger 10’8. There may be less overall volume but a 9′ could be better over distance. So, if you’re talking surf SUPs, and there’s a bit of jaunt to get out to the actual peak, you may be better off with the shorter paddle board.
Stability can also be a factor. Your chosen iSUP could have more width than your neighbour’s inflatable yet his/hers feels more planted. This could be because of a wider tail – square versus rounded – or a reduced thickness – 5″ versus 6″. The 5″ thick board will sit lower in the water which actually increases stability.
The above examples are just a couple of what you may come across during the SUP buying process. The only real way to assess a board’s performance is get the right advice – such as speaking to us here at McConks about our products – or demoing/trying the board in question (something else you can do with a McConks SUP. As the old age saying goes; ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’ so why should you assess a SUP by its dimensions alone?
If you need a hand choosing what McConks stand up paddle board fits your needs best then give us a shout.
Gazing down into the depths from atop your stand up paddle board and observing the bottom is common practise among all paddlers. It doesn’t matter whether you’re piloting inland waterways or coastal, the instinct to look down is natural.
Yet stand up paddle boarding’s biggest ‘trick’ is being able to keep your head up. There’re a few reasons for this. Firstly, you’re standing tall and have a unique vantage point over other paddle craft such as kayaks. Being able to scan the horizon as well as take in your surrounding periphery is a big plus. Keeping your head held high, however, has a far greater impact on your paddling ability.
SUP‘s health benefits are promoted far and wide. The most common term you’ll find when researching stand up is ‘core strength’. It’s your core that’ll help with moving the paddle’s blade through the water and being efficient at SUP. The easiest way to achieve a tight core, and therefore better/efficient paddle stroke, is to lift your head.
Raising your head will help elongate the top half of your body and create a better posture, naturally. ‘Breaking’ or bending at your middle may feel more stable to start with but in the long run actually isn’t and can cause unnecessary strains. With your head up, vision focused on the wider vista and a tight core, without breaking, you’ll enjoy a better, more dynamic stance and be able to cope with chop, current and general movement of water. As a knock on your confidence will increase you’ll fall less and there’ll be reduced wear and tear on your muscles and joints. Your overall enjoyment of SUP will increase in tandem.
It should also be noted that many new stand up paddlers choose to pilot their boards from their knees. Whilst this is fine for getting that initial ‘feel’ of SUP you’ll enjoy a much dryer ride, because of falling less, when standing with your head held high. It’s actually a more secure a position – even if it doesn’t feel so at first. From standing you can counterbalance (brace) with your paddle much more efficiently than on your knees. And standing will see you experience all the other benefits of being on a SUP, not least being able to see more.
So, stand up, head up and keep your core tight. Your whole SUP experience will be all the better for it.
…is that our iSUP container has landed and has been unloaded into our distribution centre. So those of you who’ve ordered SUP with our standard fibreglass/nylon paddles should get your 1 hour delivery slot notification from DPD within the next 7 days.
And the other good news is that we still have some availability of some products
The bad news…
… is that the container with our carbon paddles still hasn’t arrived, and is looking like it won’t arrive until the end of next week. So those of you waiting for either carbon paddles, or SUP packages with carbon paddles, will have to wait a little longer. It might take up to 14 days to get your packages out to you.
If you can’t wait this long for your SUP, we can ship with a standard paddle within the next seven days, with the carbon paddle to follow. We’re happy to do this for a one off fee of £37.50 – which is half the retail price of the standard paddle – as an apology for the inconvenience. If you want to take advantage, please make a payment of £37.50 to Paypal account firstname.lastname@example.org
If you didn’t already know McConks isn’t just a supplier of premium quality inflatable stand up paddle boards, top shelf paddles, SUP fins and hardware. We also do accessories; including pumps, paddling apparel, leashes and also sunglasses. Why are we reminding you of this? Simple really. When paddling on any stretch of water – especially at this time of year (summer) you’re eyes will get beaten by all those harmful UV rays reflecting back up off the water. And even during winter this can occur.
It goes without saying that we all should be slapping the suncream on. Hats too! But even under a brim, if you’re not protecting your eyes with sunglasses damage may still be happening. We know of a bunch of watersports nuts, who spend considerable amounts of time in the brine, who admit that over the years all that bright light has affected their sight. They’re now wearing shades in the water as well as on land.
For anyone looking to buy a new in inflatable stand up paddle board we’d suggest going as premium as you can, for various reasons: longevity and performance being two good ones! We appreciate, however, that whilst we’d consider McConks to be affordable not everyone has the funds to buy from us, let alone any other brand who charges more. In this instance we understand that something costing less will be your choice.
Most budget boards are perfectly acceptable if you get the right size for you. Also, a 6″ thick (or 5″ if you can find them and it’s not totally bargain basement) board will best serve your needs. There is a higher failure rate, and not all of the failures are evident on day one. Pressure testing the board from the moment it arrives is good practise. If it doesn’t lose air over 3 or 4 days then you’ve got a better chance of it being one of the good ones. Also check that there are no bits coming unglued (e.g. no deckpad lifting, D-rigs are firmly adhered and fin boxes). Make sure the seams have a regular overlap all the way around, because less overlap areas are where it’s more likely to fail. If you do manage to be teh owner of a good one then it could last you as long as a premium board. In time you may decide an upgrade is applicable but in the short terms something that allows for maximum fun on the water is what you’re searching for.
This isn’t anything new per se – electric hydrofoils and their associated boards have been around for a while. There’re some good YouTube vids out there featuring riders covering unique distances. We say unique as one edit we have in mind sees the foiler head inland along a city river on a beautiful Bluebird day. It certainly inspires…
Hands up as well, our interest has certainly been pricked of late. BUT, and it’s a BIG BUT (hence the capital letters), there are a few downsides. eFoils are pretty pricey. You’ll certainly need a few extra pennies in your bank account if you fancy getting hold of one. And also, are these just one step away from riding jetskis? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, apart from those select few who taint the sport’s reputation. And, of course, as an ethically sustainable brand, that relies on paddle/wind power for our jollies does an electrically driven toy fit the mould?
What do you think? Are the fun or faddy? Would you buy one if you could? And what would you do with yours?
For most of you summer’s only just begun. That said, we’ve already passed the summer solstice and we’re now on a slide down into autumn – albeit a slow slide. Don’t worry! There’s plenty of time for stand up paddling in sunny, summer weather though. Dawn sessions and sunset paddles are still the go for a while yet. But from a McConks brand point of view things don’t stop. They can’t stop. We need to grow, evolve and push on which is why we’re already prototyping new products and looking ahead to 2021.
We’ve been asked many times, as have other inflatable SUP brands, are we going to go down the hard SUP route? We’ve in fact already tested the water (so to speak) a while back with a race board and now we’re back at it with a windSUPs. Yep! You heard that right. Currently, we’re putting the finishing touches to a hard shell windSUP design that we’ll be testing as soon as it lands on UK shores.
So what of our hard windSUP prototype? Well, with McConks being a brand that appeals to adventure/outdoor centres (as well as everyday SUPers) – as far as stand up paddle boarding goes – we thought we’d open up our range further to RYA recognised clubs and schools who run windsurfing courses – especially for kids. It’s a perfect match. Windsurf/windSUP when there’s breeze and if the gusts should drop simply switch to paddling mode to keep those juices flowing. It’s a years old concept so nothing new except for McConks potentially making this leap.
If you’re reading and you have an interest in windsurfing and are affiliated to a club then why not pass this info on. McConks would be happy to discuss how our gear would fit into your windsurf club/school environment so you’ll be ready for 2021’s season.
We should add that inflatable windsurf sails and child friendly boards are also linked to the above. McConks has the Go Inspire initiative that aims to give children (particularly those who wouldn’t normally get the chance) experience of being on the water. Give us a shout to chat all stuff wind.
On top of the windSUP thing we’re also looking at inflatable foil board options. This is an even newer area for us but one we’re also keen to explore. Foiling, as you may be aware, is the current on trend watersport discipline. You can SUP foil in waves, explore coastlines in downwind SUP foil mode and, of course, add a wing to make use of breezy days. The idea we’re looking at is having a foil track box and Tuttle box (so riders can accommodate all makes of hydrofoil) that sits flush with the board’s hull. This should make the foil have minimal movement when in use. Stay tuned on this one as it’s an exciting and innovative area.
We’re always tinkering, messing and tweaking with new ideas popping into our heads. Some we run with, some we don’t. Stay tuned for more developments moving forwards. And if you have any feedback related to our products then let us know.
Hey kids! Fancy winning your own stand up paddle board? Of course you do! Especially as it’ll be all yours and belong to nobody else. (Well, mum and dad may steal a quick go from time to time…). If you do like the idea of winning your very own McConks stand up paddle board – in this instance McConks’ 12’8 Go Race – then you’ll need to enter the Kid’s River Challenge SUP comp, details as follows:
Take a photo of each ‘find’.
Add up the points for each find (only count each find once, so if you see 100 fish, you only get 2 points, not 200).
Get your parents to create a Facebook or Instagram post with all of the pictures and tag us (@mcconksuk).
Enter as many times as you like between now and August 2020.
Winner (highest points) will receive a pair of McConks kid’s sunglasses.
One lucky winner (drawn at random from all entries), will win a kids 12’8 McConks Go Race paddleboard*
*you don’t need to be a racer. It’s our 8 year old’s favourite board for cruising and playing. Suitable for 7-14 year olds, but adults can have fun too. Even daddy McConks can paddle it!
Next step is to download the PDF fill below that lists everything you’ll need to find.
You’ve probably read all the articles and heard those supposedly in the know suggesting how good stand up paddle boarding is as a workout. Improve core strength, stretch out those joints and muscles build stamina, reduce stress and increase your Vit D hit.
Whilst the above is true there are certain caveats to apply.
There’s no question in our minds that if you’re looking for a mental release and a way to ease stress and/or comabt mental health issues then going afloat is good practice. We’ve written a few articles about the subject of mental health and how SUP helps but there’s plenty more info online – particularly if you search for surfing and mental health. SUP isn’t quite the same as surfing but there’s synergy for sure.
Vitamin D top ups are also an easy one to achieve when you’re out paddling, even if it’s a little grey and overcast. Simply being outdoors, in the fresh air and doing something physical will have positive effects. If the sun shines then happy days.
Moving on to the hype surrounding core strength development, stamina and so on… Most people’s SUP revolves around being afloat not too far away from shore. Some may choose to cover a little distance but it’s usually done so in a mellow manner – putting the hammer down, so to speak, isn’t really on the agenda. Stand up paddle boarding with regard to 90% of those who do it is about fun rather than training.
In this guise SUP certainly does deliver on the exercise front but not necessarily to the extent a gym session would do. You may, over time, find a difference in terms of your stamina, core strength and even body shape. But if you really want to use stand up paddle boarding as an exercise medium, bluntly put, you need to put the effort in – just as with every other type of training.
For most though SUP is an activity that’s done a few times per week when schedules allow. If you really want to use stand up paddle boarding to make a difference then the amount you paddle needs to go up considerably. Again, to use the gym analogy, just like you would if visiting one of those establishments.
The media has a way of ‘bigging up’ things to ‘sell the dream’. Stand up certainly has its fair share of toned, bronzed body perfection but it’s got way more in terms of realistic, every day paddlers who do the thing for fun rather than all serious like. As we said above, you’ll almost certainly see the positive benefits of doing something physical but don’t believe all you see, hear and read in terms of SUP hype.
We were speaking to a customer about about kit yesterday. Whilst talking he let us know that the reason for purchasing our super wide and stable 9’8 whitewater beginner board wasn’t for the more normal whitewater reasons, but to have a super stable platform for their autistic child. And then he said something that made all the hard work of the last few years worth it. Feedback like this really made us go a little soft and gooey inside, and Andy was actually speechless.
‘We’re thrilled with our 9’8 whitewater board, it’s changed our lives! We wanted a wider board for our autistic son, to get him on the water and to calm him down. It’s really worked and it has really changed all of our lives.‘
We don’t often get the chance to change people’s lives in such a dramatic way! Getting feedback like this makes what we do, the long hours on the phone to customers, suppliers, businesses all the more worthwhile. SUP, from our point of view, is about enriching lives for the better and if we can help someone achieve this then that’s beyond rewarding.
Disclaimer: This isn’t to say that SUP will work for everyone’s situation. We’re 100% not experts, and we can’t guarantee this works for everyone. If, however, we can help in any way by providing SUP gear to benefit people’s lives then this is a good thing.
With a new week upon us the question being asked by many stand up paddle boarders is: ‘will it be as windy as last week?’. Even though wind can be your friend we appreciate many paddlers are newer to the sport and want calmer conditions. Well, the good news, is that this should be the case. The caveat being that conditions will still remain changeable, with a strong Jet Stream in effect, meaning at times it’ll still be breezy. Also, air temperatures will be a little lower for the time of year.
What this translates to on the ground, broadly, is a case of picking your window of opportunity and aiming for the calmest period or seeking shelter. Shelter being lakes, rivers, canals and coastal waterways where you can took in behind land masses or next to the shore.
Obviously everyone should stay safe and not take on things that are beyond abilities. That said there should be some opportunity at points for a paddle if you keep your eyes open, watch for the windows and are in a position to get gone.
Inflatable stand up paddle boards are designed with a certain PSI in mind – most are somewhere between 15-18 PSI although quality iSUPs, made from top grade Dropstitch material (like McConks) can cope with more air inside. Lesser quality inflatables not so much. If you try and force too much air inside they simply pop, or the Dropstitch comes away from the PVC deck and hull internally.
We’re pretty sure you’ve discovered this for yourselves but when you go past a certain amount – usually around 8 PSI or so – it actually becomes harder work getting your board to its correct pressure. This is especially the case if you’re using a manual pump. The resistance is greater therefore it takes more force to inflate.
Using a quality dual iSUP pump will help although there’ll still be force needed on your part. And it’s vitally important to inflate correctly. The main reasons being, if you don’t deflection becomes greater and performance on the water, such a tracking and glide, becomes inefficient and/or less resulting more effort and less enjoyment on your part.
Deflection is the amount of bend an air filled board will show. This bend is usually around the mid-point of the board where a rider stands. With too little air deflection is exacerbated and your board will resemble a floating banana. Your SUP’s ‘cockpit’ area will sink below the water line and the nose will raise and begin pushing water. Around the tail fins will be elevated and not engage correctly. The whole experience will be underwhelming and not that enjoyable.
As mentioned above your stand up paddle board will be supplied with a quality pump – at least if you purchase one from McConks. Electric versions are available to take some of the inflation hassle factor away but these should be considered carefully. The wrong type can actually damage your board. (Check the McConks SUP shop for what we recommend).
Ultimately for the best SUP experience possible you should know how much air your iSUP needs (many brands print this info on or next to the valve) and get the correct PSI inside. Once inflated it’s fine to leave, if you choose to do so. Again, with a McConks SUP, we’re confident it can stay inflated, without loss of integrity, for considerable lengths of time because of its quality build, should you choose not to deflate at the end of every session. Our boards live on the top of our van for much of the season. Which brings another question – why inflatables at all? Well, they’re just so much more rugged and robust than hard boards. And when you’re messing around with kids on rivers, shingles beaches, rocky shores etc, then that ruggedness is essential!
If you’re one of the many who’ve recently purchased a stand up paddle board, and have yet to use it, or looking for a few ideas of what SUPadventures you can get up to then read on.
With your new found toy there’s never been a better way for exploring and discovering new vistas, waterways and destinations. A stand up paddle board can be locked and loaded for all kinds of adventures – from day long sojourns to just a few hours. Those truly free spirited types may even fancy big adventure SUP challenges that cover weeks. If this is your bag then plan, plan and plan some more. That old age saying: ‘prior planning and preparation prevents poor performance’ has never been more applicable.
If you’re fortunate enough to have acquired more than one stand up paddle board then it’s time to get the family involved. SUP sessions can be a great way to spend quality time with the rest of your brood, whilst getting some exercise and enjoying the outdoors. With modern life being so hectic slowing it right down and indulging in some family paddling is a way to reconnect.
Even with an inflatable you’re free to get stuck in to a spot of stand up paddle surfing. It doesn’t need to be ‘going off’ and huge – in fact, we’d argue against this. SUP‘s beauty in surfing waves is they don’t need to be particularly big, ripples can actually suffice. Small swell is just as fun as bigger stuff for many. And this will teach all those fundamental skills in case you fancy taking stand up paddle surfing further.
We’re not suggesting doing battle with high volume white water – if this appeals then steadily working your way up and developing skills over time needs to be sorted first. Mellow runs on moderately moving rivers, however, can certainly be done. Just make sure you know your route and have in mind what hazards are about. Don’t take on anything that’s out of your league. Scout beforehand to assess.
In the UK there’s a large number of SUP racers that compete both seriously and for fun. You don’t have to be vying for podiums in the elite classes either. Battling your mates and using the whole experience to better you SUP ability is what a good many enter events for. And inflatable board owners are just as welcome as hard SUP riders.
If less exertion is what you’re after from your paddle boarding then using your SUP as a diving or fishing platform could appeal. ‘Gear heads’ may love the idea of going ‘all in’ and tricking out your board to reel in that big one. Divers meanwhile need not be waiting around for motorised propulsion to their chosen site.
With the increase in stand up paddle boarding sales due to COVID-19 and 2020’s staycation there are more and more people getting out on the water. As much as everyone should be encouraged to have fun safety is paramount, as is god SUP technique. With this in mind SUP progression sessions are now going to be running at Cotswold Water Park’s Lake 86, details below.
• Every Thursday – 18:30 to 20:00. • £15pp – 5 people max per session. • 1.5hr of professional SUP coaching from a Rapid Skills coach. • Must be 18 years old + to attend.
If you really get into stand up paddling then chances are you’ll be clambering for every conceivable opportunity to get out and indulge. And why not? If you’ve got the gear, have the time then fill your boots. We know of plenty people who’ve recently got hold of their own gear and now have the SUP bug, which is great!
There is, however, something to consider if you stick to the same stomping ground – or rather, paddling water – and your tried and tested type of session. Dare we say that you may become bored and burn out on SUP if you don’t mix things up.
Stand up paddle boarding‘s versatility is widely touted. Even with an inflatable SUP you’re able to tackle different stretches of water and mix your SUP shenanigans up. Variety is, after all, the spice of life. Predominantly coastal paddlers are free to take their gear inland, flat water SUPers can quite happily tackle waves and if you’ve the option of sticking a sail on your board, ala windSUP, then you definitely should. The more you do the more rounded your experience and skillset will become meaning you’ll be able to take on most kinds of conditions that are bowled your way.
Sometimes, however, even if you do diversify, you may just not feel it. The weather could be perfect, your window of opportunity right on the money yet your inner desire to get paddling just not fizzing. But that’s OK. We all lose our mojo from time to time. The solution is to not beat yourself up and go do something else, whatever that may be. Being able to come back to stand up, having spent a little time away, could help you reset the stoke button so the next time you’re aboard your appetite is the same, or even more ravenous, than previous.
Here’re a few tips if you feel your current SUP isn’t flicking the switch.
SUP surf – start small at first but heading for a play in the waves will have you buzzing for sure.
Head off on a mini SUP adventure – this could give you a taste and spur you on to longer sojourns.
Do a downwinder – if you’re unsure what downwinding is then Google it. You don’t need a gale but you do need logistics in place before setting off (like how to get back to you launch point).
Get qualified – becoming an instructor is a way to inspire and help others progress and is super rewarding.
With SUP’s reinvigorated popularity there’s lots of drum banging about stand up paddle boarding and safety. It can certainly be cause for concern when you see a total newbie, who’s never set foot in the water before (let alone stand on a paddle board), head off without a leash or buoyancy aid just as a 40 knot offshore squall comes through.
Whilst there’s no better way of learning than doing, we’d hate to see anyone get into difficulty simply through trying to enjoy themselves. That’s why McConks have teamed up with guys and gals at Rapid Skills to put together a beginner’s SUP safety course. The course covers planning your trip (from access and egress issues to weather forecasts), safety contacts, equipment needed to be safe, and basic paddling techniques.
Who are Rapid Skills? They’re a specialist paddlesports instruction school based at Lake 86 in the Cotswold Water Park (yep, close to McConks HQ, and we’re often spotted there!). They offer top drawer tuition across all forms of paddling – not just SUP.
The first beginner’s SUP Safety Course runs on Sat July 18 at Cotswold Water Park. They have a few spaces remaining but these are going fast on a first come first serve basis. The course costs £25pp and runs between 9:30am and 11:30am. So you can get the skills and still have plenty of time to paddle this weekend.
We’ve talked about mental health and SUP in previous articles. In the world we now live in, with post-COVID anxiety a real issue (just one example and cause), it’s never been more important to find a way to get respite and release. It mightn’t necessarily be stand up paddle boarding you use as your ‘tool’ of choice. It could be anything; going for a walk in the fresh air may serve to cleanse just as efficiently. But for a good many stand up paddle boarding does help those kerfuflled brains deal with life. (Of course, we appreciate there are levels of seriousness with mental health; some problems may need medical intervention).
There’s a lot of discussion surrounding the mental health of our children at the moment. Again, with a global pandemic having unsettled us all, the growth and stability of our children is one area of concern. Lack of social interaction, for instance, with friends of the same age group is deemed not being brilliant for kids. We’ve heard about a bunch of stand up paddle boarding initiatives to help with this. Kent Surf School – one example – are about to start offering socially distanced group paddles to help children enjoy a ‘real’ pastime as well as some company in their own age bracket.
And then there are the soothing benefits of surfing which charities have used to help counter such mental health conditions as PTSD. Encouraging feelings of joy is a positive way to manage moods and also encourage things like better sleep, which beneficial properties then knock on to all aspects of life. Stand up paddle boarding, as a distant cousin of surfing, can also help in similar ways. We quote from ptsd.org: ‘There’s medical evidence that movement and physical effort are able to encourage metabolic processes to occur within the brain.’
We’ll reiterate again that we’re not suggesting SUP is the be all and end all cure for mental health problems. But we do believe it can help. If you’re having mental health issues we’d suggest you speak to a medical professional first. And when/if you can, get out for a float…
We’re pleased to see the National Trust’s locations are going to be opening again very soon – albeit gradually and safely. Already the NT have opened over 100 gardens and parks in England and Northern Ireland via advanced bookings. From Monday July 6 parks and gardens will also start to open in Wales.
This is good news for paddling on Lake Windermere as you’ll soon be able to do so once again. If you’re not aware the Lake District offers a stunning place to SUP with incredible vistas of fell mountains, rolling hills and (at certain times) snow-capped peaks. Its plethora of glacial ribbon lakes are worth a visit regardless of whether you intend getting afloat. And for those who fancy combining paddling with walking/scrambling/climbing then it goes without saying the Lake District should be on your bucket list.
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