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Summer’s over. Bring on Autumn SUP

Summer’s over. Bring on Autumn SUP

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

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

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

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

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

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

So does SUP stop at the end of summer?

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

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

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

Some tricks on the McConks go free board!! 😎👊🤘

Posted by Dan Stubbins on Wednesday, September 30, 2020

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

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

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

Location:

Abingdon-on-Thames river tributary, Oxfordshire.

Spot type:

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

Conditions:

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

Hazards:

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

Access:

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

Popularity (1-10):

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

Amenities:

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

Overview:

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

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Fixtures, fittings and fins – standardisation frustrations within SUP.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/ramblingsofabrokenhiker

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

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

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

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New product alert! – Updated McConks Go Anywhere range.

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

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

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

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

Prone paddle boarding

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

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

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

Outrigger canoeing (OC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Location:

Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight

Spot type:

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

Conditions:

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

Hazards:

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

Access:

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

Popularity (1-10):

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

Amenities:

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

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Overview:

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

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

Location:

Harlyn Bay, Cornwall

Spot type:

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

Conditions:

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

Hazards:

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

Access:

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

Popularity (1-10):

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

Amenities:

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

Overview:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Location:

Widemouth Bay, Bude, Cornwall

Spot type:

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

Conditions:

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

Hazards:

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

Access:

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

Popularity (1-10):

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

Amenities:

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

Overview:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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eFoil fun! – electric hydrofoil prototype testing update.

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Oli Lane-Peirce for the images.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Making 2021 SUP safety year : Waist belts as standard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WindSUP/wing SUP

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

Pool SUP

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

Windsurfing/kitesurfing

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

Surfing

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

Cycling

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not all iSUP manufacturers are the same

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

Samples and prototyping

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

Ordering and storage

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

Marketing and demos

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

Customer service

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

Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Humorous image above aside…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SUP stock headaches – simplicity not always guaranteed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have fun!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned for more adventures from the man himself…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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