Last week The Court of Arbitration for Sport awarded the International Surfing Association the right to lead stand up paddle boarding in its Olympic bid for inclusion. After a long legal battle with the ICF (International Canoeing Federation), who also staked a claim, a decision has been reached, which concerned parties now state will accelerate SUP move forwards in a positive fashion. But does the layman paddler actually care?
For anyone actively competitive in SUP this news will be an interesting victory. Ultimately, whatever anyone says, it’s been an ‘ownership’ battle. But those who consider themselves ‘SUP athletes’ should soon have a clear path to the hallowed Olympic platform – arguably ‘the best of the best arena’ where the elite of each discipline can prove themselves.
The majority of recreational paddlers, however, won’t give two hoots about the above. Stand up paddle boarding is, for the masses, about having fun in the sun, floating about with friends and family and enjoying the outdoors. Serious competition is a world away. Granted, a % of newbies may go on to become SUP athletes, but many won’t.
Having staged successful SUP competitions in the past the ISA does have pedigree in the organisation of stand up paddle board events. Its test as an organisation, and whether the CAS decision was correct, will come down to getting SUP into The Games and delivering on its promise to those who’ve made SUP their life goal. Sponsored riders and SUP professionals need an outlet to prove their worth after all.
For the rest of us, we’ll continue as we’ve done so: enjoying time afloat and paddling waterways of all types. Whether or not stand up appears at The Olympic Games is neither here nor there. It may prick interests should that come to fruition at the time but as it stands, whilst this is indeed a landmark decision, 90% of the SUP population won’t have noticed…
Whatever type of stand up paddling you aspire to there’s something for everyone – that’s one of SUP‘s beauties; it’s versatility. Having taken those first tentative paddling steps a whole load of opportunity and SUP adventures await you. Here’re a bunch to get you started.
SUP surfing your first wave
SUP surfing doesn’t have to mean charging the biggest, meanest swells. It can simply be gliding on micro ankle slappers: the experience is the same. Heading out for your first surf can give chills. You have an inkling what’s coming but aren’t quite sure. And then, WHAM!, you catch your first wave and ride along with a stonking grin on your chops. Trust us when we say you’ll be hooked for life!
Running your first river
River SUP is a still very much under the radar in the UK but it’s definitely a thing. Mellow white water, with a small amount of movement, can be just as exciting as hooking massive drop and running grade 5s! Small wave train rapids will get those juices flowing and if you do it with an experienced guide we’re sure you’ll be in for lots of thrills and potentially a few spills – all part of the game…
Entering your first SUP race
Whether you paddle an all round inflatable or hard touring SUP most races these days have a class for you. You don’t need to be vying for the podium – although you may have your sites set there regardless. For most SUP racing is about local battles in the middle of the pack. Taking on your mates to see who can outdo the other. It’s not serious but it sure can be lots of fun!
Day long adventure paddling
With confident paddling comes the ability to load up your SUP with those much needed essentials and head off in the wild for some quality adventure paddling. For the truly committed extending your journey across days may be a thing but to start with simply heading round the next bend, as it were, and making your first SUP adventure a day trip is just as rewarding. Who knows what you may find or where you may end up.
WindSUP or wing SUP
If you’ve never felt the power of wind in your hands then owning a stand up paddle board with a windsurfing attachment will allow this. Even if it doesn’t then fear not! Wings are a thing… In both cases being propelled along with a few breezy gusts can see a whole new world open up before you. Arguably wingsurfing wings are less faff than windsurfing rigs although McConks offers an inflatable version of both. Unlock the additional versatility of your board and get involved!
Yes, we know it’s currently baking in the UK, and winter seems like a way off. But it isn’t really. We’re already into mid-August and soon it’ll be autumn. This isn’t to sound negative. In fact, for many autumn and winter can be the best seasons for stand up paddle boarding – particularly if you want ‘conditions’ and not just flat water. But now’s the time to prepare – you don’t want to get left out in the cold (literally) come time.
Make sure you have good quality paddling attire. A decent wetsuit or drysuit if necessary will stand you in good stead. Mostly, you get what you pay for. Of course, there are deals (particularly if you shop around now) but a decent wetty does mean you have to stump up a little. But you’ll be thankful for it. Also, make sure this part of your kit is durable and robust. When clambering on and off boards you don’t need your wetty getting a hole in it!
Gloves, hood and booties should also be considered. They need to be comfortable and ideally not impede movement. Of course, to some degree, wearing gloves, hood and booties isn’t as ‘free’ as paddling in just boardshorts. That’s why getting the correct fit and type which suits you is important.
Check over your paddle. If you’ve been afloat plenty this summer you may have picked up scuffs and potentially nicks on the shaft, handle or blade. For those using an adjustable it’s worth looking at the locking mechanism. Any SUPer needing to replace their paddle should definitely be looking to before winter. It’s your engine and main form of propulsion so definitely shouldn’t be overlooked.
Damage to your stand up paddle board will need sorting if you’ve picked anything up – whether hard SUP or inflatable. Fins also. Wear and tear is par for the course unfortunately but is usually easily fixable. You may also be considering an upgrade that’s more in line with the SUP performance you’re after based on the conditions you plan on tackling.
Leashes are another item that tend to show signs of use and therefore need replacing in time. Having a worn leash snap on you while out in the wild isn’t pleasant so make sure you sort before too long. And don’t forget the leash retainer as this can also wear.
Any flotation aids should be checked over before doing battle with Mother Nature. Whether that be a float belt, that self inflates, a PFD or buoyancy aid all of which need to be in good working order. Any other peripheral gear like helmets as well. You may not have had need for these during summer so definitely worth having a look/see.
All in being prepared for winter stand up paddling is the best course of action. If you are then we’re pretty sure you’ll have a fruitful season.
Before we get jumped all over this isn’t THE best 5 places to SUP instead it’s more of a selection of what’s available. Lists like these are always subjective. One paddler’s honey is another’s Marmite. Everyone has an opinion and opinions differ based on circumstance, criteria and a whole host of other factors. The list below, however, will have something in it that’ll prick the interests of many. You may not agree with all but we’re sure you’ll discover a location that you fancy tackling…
Where would you add?
Marazion, Mounts Bay, Cornwall
Being a south-west Cornwall spot Marazion can serve up all manner of SUP kinds conditions; from waves to flat water, choppy to blustery. Whilst it doesn’t face the same direction as its north coast siblings, and therefore pick up the same amount of swell, there’s still potential for a spot of SUP surfing if that’s your bag. Alternatively, and often during the summer months, Mazza (as the locals call it) can be flat. With the iconic St. Michael’s Mount off to the left and Penzance to the right it’s a top SUP touring spot that on a windless, sunny day can resemble a more exotic location. Access is easy, with parking right next to the put in. At low tide it has more expose sand which can be good for families.
The Lake District, Cumbria
The Lakes hardly need introduction, such is their reputation for awe-inspiring mountain vistas and elongated waterways plunged at the foot those troughs and valleys. Walkers, climbers and bikers are well acquainted with this spot but in recent years SUP has been accepted onto some of the lakes. Being a sheltered area there can be blissful, windless days, although weather can still be changeable and exposed corners blustery as strong gusts sweep down steep fells. Still, if you want to experience Wordsworth’s land then from atop a SUP couldn’t be better. Ullswater, in particular, should be on your list.
The Broads, Norfolk/Suffolk
Formed after flooding peat workings The Broads is a (mostly) navigable set of lakes and canals that straddle both counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. Offering idyllic flat water touring SUP conditions The Broads is a national park punctuated every so often by historic windmill pump stations erected to keep water levels static. For paddlers there’s miles of water to either meander along in mellow fashion or, for those with inclination, put the hammer down. It should be noted that at certain times of year some stretches do have restrictions so check before launching.
Seven Sisters, East Sussex
Formed out of white chalk cliffs East Sussex’s Seven Sisters are the iconic ends of the South Down’s where many a TV and film crew have pointed their camera (Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood had scenes filmed here). Whether you’re after open water tidal paddling, or more sheltered conditions (found at Cuckmere Valley) you’ll be well served. Staring up at the towering cliffs is jaw dropping out at sea whilst meandering along the Cuckmere River is a rather more chilled out affair.
Tiree, Hebrides, Scotland
During bouts of good weather, with sunshine in the mix (which can often be the case in Tiree as one of the brightest locations in the UK), Tiree’s beaches and lapping Atlantic water resemble a more Tropical destination. The small Hebridean island attracts all manner of watersports enthusiasts with its diverse set of conditions. From BIG waves to more mellow surf and even flat water it’s a location that begs you to put in with your SUP. The overall ambience of Tiree, with its small population, makes the whole island very chilled indeed. Nervous newbies will also find a small sheltered lake for taking those first steps.
Most will now be well aware of stand up paddling‘s unprecedented growth post-lockdown. This weekend, as of August 8, 2020, saw another round of mainstream press coverage which tells you something. There’s nothing and nobody that could’ve predicted how this year would go. Certainly not SUP industry big wigs who in 2019 suggested a consolidation was taking place after things had slowed.
In some ways it’s kind of the opposite to how things were at SUP‘s modern guise inception around 2005. Touted as the biggest thing since sliced bread – or rather ‘the fastest growing watersport on the planet’ – it certainly set off on solid footing before 2008’s economic crash put paid to the metaphorical SUP sales explosion every brand was imagining. Instead, stand up paddle boarding bubbled along at a slightly faster growth rate than average.
At the start of 2020 there were inklings already in some minds regarding the impending global pandemic. But nothing in those crystal balls suggested a re-energised/reinvigorated interest with standing atop boards and paddling. In fact, during lockdown the outdoor industry at large were full of doom and gloom. Then shutters were lifted and the cocktail of staycation, furlough, good weather and time at home conspired to make stand up paddle boarding THE coolest thing do this summer, once again. (We’ll also admit some other outdoor pursuits, such as cycling, have also been enjoying a bumper season).
But what about sustaining this growth? Is that possible or will things cool off?
There’s wide media suggestion about all manner of things come autumn. Unemployment, a potential virus second wave along with Mother Nature’s mood taking on a changeable tone which all could halt proceedings. From a weather/seasonality point of view watersports always slow once we emerge from ‘silly season’. The fact is: most practitioners are fair weather and the UK’s climate isn’t always inviting during autumn and winter. Plus, daylight hours are against those who do regular 9-5 jobs with less time to indulge even if they wanted to. Although, with a more remote work ethic perhaps that won’t be a thing…
Regardless, SUPer numbers on the water will probably dip after September – unless we get a decent October weather window around school half term. Even with the onset of winter, however, stand up paddling certainly doesn’t have to stop. Those who fancy progressing and pushing on can certainly do so with the right ‘tools’ – such as decent wetsuit and such.
So what of spring 2021 and the continuation of stand up paddling‘s popularity? Some economically minded types would suggest that because of the unprecedented re-growth of SUP in 2020 it’ll last into next year. That would be logical if these times we’re living in were normal (which they aren’t). We’d possibly witness the knock effect from this season. By that we mean: person A buys a stand up paddle board which is noted by person B – perhaps a neighbour or work colleague. Person B investigates then also makes a purchase which is noted by person C. And so on, and so on…
Unfortunately, based on how 2020 has been so far, things are never quite that simple. We can’t predict what’ll happen in the next 12 months. We can’t predict what’ll happen next week! But, what we can tell you is anyone who’s gotten hold of stand up paddle boarding equipment for the first time this year will be much better off for it. Of course, SUP isn’t the be all and end all. But in times of chaos it certainly helps to have some form of release – which stand up paddling certainly can offer. So in that sense, for those in a position to get involved next year there’s argument to do so.
For now, enjoy your paddling and the rest of summer in the UK – it’s certainly been one for the records! Only time will tell how 2021 pans out…
Here at McConks we’re already looking towards 2021’s season as before you know it’ll be winter with that portly chap in red suit making an appearance – we can’t sit on our laurels. If you’ve been following McConks for a while you may have seen articles/posts about new gear we’re currently developing across various disciplines – windsurf and stand up paddling. This is based on feedback from various corners including watersports clubs and coaches we currently work with.
McConks has always appealed to clubs because of the versatility, robust nature and fit for purpose nature of our gear. Building on this the range for 2021 will increase. In particular, the inflatable windsurf sails we’ve talked about, kid’s specific SUP kit (windsurf and race SUP), potentially hard crossover windSUP boards (yet to be tested) and a whole bunch of other equipment bits designed to further enhance your water life and living. Basically there’s something to suit all disciplines, from beginners to intermediate right the way up to advanced riders.
If you’re a watersports club specialising in either windsurfing, stand up paddle boarding or both then McConks can offer you decent bulk order rates. We’re keen to work closer with clubs and help more people get into watersports which is why we’re offering this.
Everyone knows that grassroots clubs are where the watersports seed gets sown – especially for kids. Those who mightn’t have access to windsurf and stand up paddle equipment get the opportunity to take part in otherwise inaccessible activities. There are numerous stories of super successful athletes who’ve started out in similar fashion.
For watersports clubs interested in taking advantage of pre-order 2021 deals on McConks SUP, windSUP and windsurfing equipment now’s the time to get in touch and see what we can do for you.
There’s much chat about SUP safety with so many new paddlers coming into the sport. Things like leashes (and what type to wear), weather info and so on are certainly key aspects that need covering/reiterating. One thing that may get overlooked, however, is the following – particularly for paddlers on stretches of inland water. While we’re not trying to be alarmist Weil’s Disease is something to be aware of.
As we all know stand up paddle boarding can (mostly) be practised on any given stretch of water you come across – access allowing. Whilst tidal waters are one thing, as far as SUP safety concerns go, inland locations, such as rivers, canals and lakes have their own set of safety criteria to keep in mind. Something new stand up paddlers might not have considered is Leptospirosis (Weil’s Disease) and the fact you can pick it from these non-coastal locations.
What is it and how does Weil’s disease transmit?
Weil’s Disease is a bacterial infection that can be fatal if untreated. It’s spread by rat urine but can also transmit via cat, fox rabbit, cow and pig urine. If the stretch of water you plan on paddling is next to a cow field, for instance, then there’ll most likely be run off which can carry the bacteria.
Open wounds, such as cuts and gashes, are prime for the disease entering a paddler’s body. Contaminated water, that’s ingested, can also be a route to infection as can nasal passages and eyes. Symptoms include lethargy, muscle pain, diarrhoea, headaches and vomiting – Weil’s Disease can mimic severe flu. The consequences of becoming infected can be serious.
Whilst river/lake/canal water are places stand up paddlers could pick up Leptospirosis infections a little known fact is that river banks, for instance, are also contamination zones. Shuffling and crawling across bankside undergrowth and shrubbery to launch also risks pick up the infection.
It should also be noted that infection rates following rainfall can be higher as the Leptospira bacteria thrives in moisture.
Preventing Weil’s Disease
It should go without saying that any open wounds or cuts should be covered with watertight bandages. In fact, it might be worth holding off paddling altogether until any abrasions or scrapes have healed. Taking a dunking is par for the course with SUP – we all fall from time to time. Keeping mouths and eyes closed if immersed is good practise.
SUP apparel isn’t just for keeping warm and fending off chill. Wearing protective clothing, such as neoprene wetsuits, boots and gloves can block potential infections as well. In hotter weather thinner garments can be purchased so overheating doesn’t also become a problem.
Having anti-bac onsite for post-paddle rub downs is worth it. Then as soon as you can washing hands and face with warm soapy water should be done. Clean down all your gear, including paddle clothing, to get rid of bacteria.
If the area you plan on stand up paddle boarding is known to have problems with Weil’s Disease then avoiding it completely is a good idea. Should you feel unwell after SUPing inland waterways then speaking with your GP straight away can help stop symptoms developing. Early treatment can reduce the severity of any infection and shorten symptom’s duration. There are some preventative medicines available if you can’t avoid what you feel is contaminated water.
It should be noted that paddling in river, canals and lakes doesn’t mean you’re going to contract Leptospirosis. As with everything SUP carries an element of risk. Knowing those risk, however, means you can make informed decisions and keep as safe as possible.
The beady will have noticed there’s LOTS of content to be discovered when you navigate to the McConks SUP Knowledge Hub. From beginner tips, tricks and hacks to more advanced info, brand/product updates, a new travel section and loads of other good stuff. We appreciate, however, that sometimes you may miss things – it’s easy to do. As such you’ll find links below to a few choice articles that we’ve published.
As always if there’s something specific you want to see then let us know.
We took an in depth look at the McConks HP6 dual chamber and HP2 single chamber iSUP pump. As an addition we also got one of McConks’ friends – Chris – to demonstrate them in action.
You may not be aware of it but McConks does its best to innovate and push the boundaries of what’s possible with inflatable SUP products. An example of which can be found with the Go Race V 14′.
McConks recently got the go ahead to start actively pushing our Go Sail inflatable windsurfing sails. These will be widely available soon. If you fancy checking them out then hit the link below –
Electric hydrofoiling boards certainly prick interests and we’ve been lucky enough to get one to test. We’re currently putting it through its paces so stay tuned for an update ASAP.
Finally you’ll find a whole bunch of articles relating to UK SUP spots. We’ve started adding to this travel section which’ll be ongoing. If you have a specific location included then message us.
We’re proud of McConks’ Go Race V 14‘, which we talked about in a previous post. But we don’t just want you to take our word for it that it’s an awesome inflatable race board (with plenty of versatility). No siree. For further opinion on the McConks Go Race V 14 check out the latest issue of SUP Mag UK where you’ll find a full review.
As many will know McConks doesn’t do that many of this type of review. Mainly because magazines ask for advertising revenue in return, so essentially ‘paying to play’, which we don’t agree with. Where’s the impartiality in that? We’ve been featured in SUPM’s reviews/tests for a while though which shoudl tell you something.
We talk about weather all the time here at McConks. Many newbie paddlers won’t have teh necessary information for being able to read things like synoptic charts and interpret conditions accordingly at their chosen put in. Some may not even know what a synoptic chart is (which is understandable if you’ve never had to use one). Yet the fact remains: if you SUP, whether inland or coastal, you need some grasp of what Mother Nature’s likely to serve you up – from a safety point of view if nothing else.
Just spotted is this informative and interesting post from Master SUP Coach Glenn Eldridge of ASI fame. Here he talks about different cloud formations and how that can help you determine what weather’s on the horizon. Give it a read and then try and put it into practise next time you’re out for a SUP.
We’re not sure what this’ll look like yet as it was only yesterday evening (Aug 6, 2020) that Andy spoke to The Guardian newspaper. What we do know, however, is the paper will be running a weekend piece on stand up paddle boarding for their lifestyle section. This is quite timely with a UK heatwave starting to hit which’ll see plenty of paddlers out afloat and therefore interests will be heightened further.
As we understand it they’ve also spoke to a couple of others from the UK’s SUP industry and the journalist in question is currently having a lesson with Paul Hyman from Active360 to get a real flavour of what stand up is all about.
The last time SUP was featured in a broadsheet (The Times, a few months back) it wasn’t 100% representative of SUP’s true demographic. Whilst the text was admirable the accompanying images featured too many of the ‘beautiful’ and not really any of those ‘real world’ paddlers most of us are. Hopefully this will be different, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Keep your eyes peeled for the piece this coming weekend in The Guardian.
We’ve already alluded to this in previous posts but being a watersports brand we get a lot of opportunities come our way – some that fall by the wayside (for various reasons) and others that we readily jump at. This is one of those that we’ve jumped at, more out of curiosity than anything.
To be honest we’re still on the fence when it comes to electrically powered watersports craft – in this case an electric hydrofoil stand up paddle board (e-foil for short). It doesn’t really fit with McConks’ sustainability and environmentally conscious ethos. But, as we say, we’re curious. And we said we’d test it for one of McConks’ suppliers and give some feedback.
There’s a lot of chat about foils currently. Wing foil, SUP foil, surf foil, wind foil and kite foil. Then there are e-foil brands suggesting enough of a market and interest for electric hydrofoils to be viable. Is this actually the case? We’re not sure. Toys like these carry a fairly hefty price tag…But then if you take e-bikes as an example, with some being comparable in price, it seems (some) people may be willing to stump up. Maybe that’d be the same for an electric hydrofoil?
Whatever the case we’re keen to see how it performs on the water. Is it just one step away from a jetski? OR is there bona fide fun to be had and it fit as a complimentary toy in our/your quiver. Stay tuned to find out what we think.
If you’ve just purchased your first stand up paddle board then this mightn’t be for you. Or perhaps maybe you’ve already discovered an arm of SUP that really takes your fancy. Either way there’s, at some point, going to be the question surrounding equipment upgrade.
When we talk about upgrading it’s mostly to do with increasing the performance of your board or paddle and therefore overall efficiency and enjoyment. Recreational paddling, which most people do (at least when they start), is all about getting to grips with SUP‘s fundamentals and generally floating about, having fun, mostly in good weather. For some, this progresses to other avenues of the activity and seeing what you can do with your new toy. It could be SUP adventuring, SUP surfing, racing or any one of the other avenues that stand up paddling offer. Whilst your trusty 10’6 is perfectly adaptable to these specific disciplines there are other bits of equipment designed to make things more efficient (we use this word a lot but it’s very applicable).
For instance: if you’re bitten by the adventure SUP bug, and fancy heading off on exploratory sojourns – either short or long paddle journeys – a longer board, that has improved glide and accommodates the storage of on deck essentials – will be a better bet than a shorter more all round board. You’ll find that even when fully laden with gear ground will be covered easier and the whole experience more fulfilling. It’s the same with any other avenue of SUP: the right tool for the job and all that.
Now don’t get us wrong, we’re not suggesting chop in your original stand up paddle board. In fact, as you get more into SUP having a quiver of equipment is a good thing. This maximises your time on the water and, again, allows you to choose the right tool for the job in hand. You don’t need to go mad, although some keen beans do own multiple sleds.
It doesn’t just stop at boards either. If you’re a SUPer who knows their onions as far as paddles go then you may want different types for different jobs – especially if you opt for fixed shaft models.
The last scenario, where you may feel an upgrade is necessary, comes down to the quality of the original stand up paddle board you opt for. We appreciate that cheaper SUPs may be the best choice at the time for many as they take those first tentative steps. Pretty quick, however, (depending on how well made your board in question is) a better manufactured SUP could be desired to deliver more fun on the water. It comes down to the efficiency element again. Any SUP designed and produced with better materials will be more efficient on the water – whatever type of paddling you choose. And more efficiency = more fulfilment and fun.
For anyone looking to upgrade their existing stand up paddle boarding equipment give us a shout to discuss your requirements. We can then point you in the right direction.
Esso Beach (Langstone Harbour oyster beds), Hayling Island, Hampshire.
Sheltered harbour, tidal location.
Smooth glassy water at times (sheltered in NE – SE winds), super windy, choppy seas in a blow.
Strong tides, rocks and stones under foot, other water users (windsurfers).
Easy access with a car park (paid) right next to the put in, pollution at times (especially after heavy rain).
Esso petrol station behind the launch which is a 2 min walk. Free parking. The Hayling Billy track (a now defunct historic railway route), which Esso beach’s car park is part of, offers decent flat land cycling for those inclined.
As with Hayling’s seafront West Beachlands location its primary harbour spot, Esso Beach, is a popular haunt for windsurfers being slightly more sheltered and not have any significant shore break. Esso Beach gets its nickname because of the Esso petrol station located just behind the launch. Low tide dries out with paddling opportunities showing around 2.5hrs before high water. Depending whether spring or neap ties may give an additional half hour window or so for getting afloat. If tides drop and catch you out you may end up with a muddy walk back to the beach. Conditions are Mother Nature dependant but Esso can be nor forgiving than the seafront, although it can still be a rough ride in a blow. It’s a good location for beginners with a shingle spit, lying a few yards off the beach giving additional protection. At either end the coast curves and makes Esso more like a lagoon which can inspire confidence also. Anyone not used to rocky a seabed will need to wear appropriate paddling footwear to protect against cuts and bruises. For anyone fancying a spot of touring SUP it can be a good launch spot, particularly for experienced paddlers used to using tides to aid their journey.
Open ocean, Atlantic facing sandy beach exposed to all weather types swinging in from the west.
Whitesands Bay is mostly a surfing beach but as with other wave spots it can go flat if there’s a lack of Atlantic swell action. It’s a spot described as the best surfing beach in all of Pembrokeshire, although that’s more to do with accessibility for all levels.
Rips can occur when there’s surf pulsing in with general open beach current also in affect. Waves can sometimes be heavy as they close out and dump on shallow sand bars or the beach itself. Some rocks need to be heeded and during summer other water users. It gets busy!
Whitesands Bay has easy access from the main car park but as mentioned above it gets rammed during high season.
10+ in summer dropping to 1-2 in winter.
There’s a shop/café and public toilets onsite as you walk down to the sand. If you head back in the UK’s smallest city – St. Davids – there are a few eateries, pubs and restaurants plus shops and such. Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire’s main county town, is a few miles back east and has more in the way of nightlife if you’re after that.
Pembrokeshire is truly the Wild West for many. Being that much further on, and therefore longer to get to than The Gower Peninsula, Whitesands Bay just outside St. Davids is pretty much on the fringe. That said it gets super busy during summer with all manner of water going craft afloat. If the surf’s smaller you can guarantee it’ll be rammed. Add sunshine to the mix and it becomes more so. On quieter days it can be a good SUP surfing spot for some mellow riding. The waves aren’t super hardcore although they do tend to dump a little. A rip at the northern end can help riders get out on bigger days, if you know what you’re doing. This is where the best wave in the bay breaks. But be aware, local surfers tend to flock on good conditions. To the left of Whitesands Bay is Ramsey Island. This is where the notorious tidal race – called The Bitches – forms. Kayakers have been doing battle with this natural, tidal phenomena for years. Of late stand up paddlers have also tested their mettle. BUT, it’s not for the inexperienced and is best undertaken with safety cover.
There’s a lot of snobbery around relating to cost and perceived ‘cheap’ iSUPs vs more costly ones. The fact is, however, with inflatable SUP you get what you pay for. If you shell out around 200 quid on a board that’s what you get: a 200 quid board. For sure, we’ll admit some are better than others, and a good many will serve your purposes well. In these instances you’ll have made a wise purchase. If you want something ‘more’, that will last longer plus deliver more on water performance equating to enhanced fun, then that’s where premium brands come in. McConks is one of those aforementioned premium brands.
We put a lot of time and effort into sourcing the best quality materials we can; the most efficient and cost effective manufacturers; we put an awful lot of blood, sweat and tears into being as innovative as possible. Some of this may get missed with all the ‘noise’ of SUP‘s colourful world. Yet if you look deeper at what McConks provides you’ll see this innovation, progression and performance. And this is ‘stuff’ that filters down through McConks’ whole product range to benefit every paddler. You may not realise it piloting your trusty 10’6 but through development of more performance orientated boards and paddles you’re reaping the rewards.
One such case in point is McConks’ Go Race V 14′. Whilst SUP racing may not be for everyone being able to design and produce something like this board allows us to experiment, try new ideas and see how far we can push inflatable stand up paddle board boundaries. In doing so we may hit on new ideas and concepts that transfer to the rest of McConks’ range.
With the Go Race V 14′ we’ve incorporated double carbon stringers to increase stiffness. Through the tail section there’s a hard release rubber edge (found on some of McConks’ other iSUPs also). This aids unsticking of the tail for increased acceleration and less drag. Upfront, on the Go Race‘s nose, there’s also pronounced Vee which helps shed water when piercing through chop but, again, as with the tail aids overall efficiency. Combined with its flatter rocker these three elements make for a lightning quick sled – not bad when you consider it’s an air filled board.
And then there’s the fin, or more specifically the fin box. We’ve created this to be removable and come in two parts. This makes for easier transportation and storage of the V 14′ when deflated but also helps with on water performance. Fin boxes, protruding from board tails, add drag so being able to have the Go Race‘s sitting flush against the hull reduces this. The board’s pressure (rated up to 25PSI) secures the top and bottom fin box parts to start with. Then a nifty design allows a Velcro strap to run between the two sections and secure them further. As a US Box style skeg holder paddlers are free to chop and change (tune) their fin accordingly making it not only efficient but super versatile.
All in McConks’ Go Race V 14′ race SUP is top drawer when it comes to innovation and performance. We may be a small family owned stand up paddle board company but that doesn’t mean we can’t be as ahead of the curve as the bigger boys.
If you’ve got any questions relating the McConks’ Go Race V 14′ inflatable stand up paddle race board then give us a holla.
It’s almost a carbon copy of last week with regard to the UK’s weather. Whilst it’s not cold per se there’s certainly unsettled conditions in some areas at time of posting. A north/south divide pretty much sums up proceedings early doors but as we head ever closer to the weekend (Fri July 7, Sat July 8, Sun July 9) every indication suggestions high pressure moves in and we’ll see some scorchio conditions again. It may, in parts, get even hotter than last week.
Winds should also, by and large, stay light in most places. Of course, local effects will come in to play. Just because the forecast for your area of interest doesn’t suggest a little breeze don’t think there won’t be any – especially for coastal put ins where sea breezes are prevalent. That said, however, low gust speeds are mostly on the cards so stand up paddling without too much hindrance from Mother Nature should be the go. Best course of action is check predictions each day for the times you plan to go afloat (and where). Then make plans accordingly.
Weather plays a big part with UK SUP – if you hadn’t already guessed. Which is why we talk about it here at McConks. If you’re a newbie SUPer and not used to checking, interpreting and deciding with weather info in mind now’s the time to start. Any paddler with experience will do this to make sure they score good SUP conditions in as a safe an environment as possible. Also, if you’re looking for specific criteria, such as wave heights for SUP surfing then becoming an amateur meteorologist is good practise.
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.
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.
This is actually something from 2019, but it’s still relevant. It also happens that Weekend Candy (Claire) is indulging in one of her 7 unmissable SUP adventures aboard a trusty McConks iSUP. Of course, because of this fact alone, we’re sharing this. But it’s more than just narcissism on our part. There’s some good info in Weekend Candy’s article about SUP adventures and how to make the most your time afloat.
Whether you’re new to SUP or an old hand there’re a bunch of stand up paddle boarding movies that have done the rounds and are designed to get pumped and ready for your next session. In some of these edits you’ll find aspiration and inspirational riding that’ll see you want to get out there amongst it. At other times you may simply be in awe whilst there may also be titbits of info you’ll pick up that’ll serve as part of your SUP education. In all instances SUP movies will at the very least help you while away some time when you’re not getting wet.
That First Glide
If you’re a stand up paddler with a windsurfing background then you may be familair with the name Mike Waltze. Waltze was one of the original Maui wave sailing trailblazers who pioneered the now revered Ho’okipa Beach Park: THE premier wave sailing location in the world. What you may not know is Mike owns and runs a successful video production company and soon after SUP’s inception began filming for his 2011 stand up paddle boarding documentary That First Glide.
Featuring all those familiar SUP pioneers That First Glide often gets overlooked but is one of the original (modern) paddle boarding films that’s still relevant today.
Featuring such stalwarts of the SUP scene as Danny Ching, Connor Baxter, Dave Boehne, Dave Kalama, Gerry Lopez and Slater Trout (among others) Brent Deal’s premise for H2Mexico was place some of the world’s best paddlers at the time (2014) aboard a super yacht (The Royal Pelagic) and seek out adventures and paddling awesomeness along Baja’s rugged coast. The resulting film was noted as one of the best at the time of release.
The SUP Movie
John DeCesare and his Poor Boyz Productions released The SUP Movie in 2015. It’s another progressive stand up paddle boarding movie that has heavy Maui overtones. No less it’s still an awesome edit from an award winning director who started off producing freeskiing films in association with Red Bull Media House. He then went on to create The Windsurfing Movie, The Windsurfing Movie II before releasing The SUP Movie. Amazing photography and a kicking soundtrack to boot…
But it doesn’t stop there for DeCeasre’s cinematic depiction of SUP…
Kai Lenny is one of the world’s most progressive and skilled riders across a whole host of ocean sporting disciplines – from windsurfing to SUP, kitesurfing to big wave surfing and now foiling, he’s at the cutting edge. Following John DeCesare’s 2015 The SUP Movie (see above) the Poor Boyz Productions cinematographer teamed up with the Hawaiian prodigy to shoot Paradigm Lost. A look into Lenny’s way of life and approach to wave riding it was filmed over three years, across six different countries and whilst isn’t SUP specific it does feature lots of stand up paddling boarding and seeks to highlight the life of a true waterman. Whether you like Lenny or not it certainly acts as an inspirational flick.
There are, of course, plenty more edits to be found online and not just featuring SUPing in waves. What’s your favourite stand up paddle boarding movie? Let us know…
A few weeks back it looked like ALL overseas school summer holiday travel was off the cards due to COVID-19. There was, however, light at the end of the tunnel more recently when some nations announced a lifting of restrictions to allow holidaymakers in, as long as certain criteria was met. With chat surrounding a full staycation affair for 2020, and zero chances of heading abroad, it now looks as though some of us will be able to head off to sunnier/warmer climes after all.
So what of that brand new inflatable stand up paddle board you may have purchased to make the most of your time at home? Well, hopefully you’ll have been getting afloat lots since it arrived. The weather’s been great with seemingly plenty of opportunity for paddling shenanigans – from what we’ve seen at any rate.
If you’re one of those who (all being well) will be heading to foreign countries on holiday then you’ll still be able to make use of your iSUP. After all, one of the conveniences of buying an inflatable is the fact it’s easy to travel with. Being able to pack it down, roll up and stow inside a robust and durable bag (complete with three piece paddle, fin, leash and pump) makes it an ideal toy for your annual trip.
Here at McConks we have plenty of experience of travelling with inflatables. The bag itself – even with your SUP gear inside – will have extra room. So why not turn into a suitcase and stash some of your other belongings inside? There’s no reason you should get stung for excess baggage fees – as long as you keep under weight restrictions. And most airline staff won’t be aware that you actually have a board inside!
Once on the ground at your destination transport to accommodation should be no different. Again, because of the fact your iSUP is all contained in a bag – that’s no bigger than standard luggage – it’ll fit inside the hold of coach, boot of a taxi or even on the back of a motorbike if you secure it correctly. Then it’s a case of SUPing until your heart’s content under the warm sun.
Your return journey should then mirror, with all the benefits you made use of during the outbound flight, on the way home.
Overseas travel tips with your inflatable SUP:
Make sure you roll your inflatable SUP properly. Secure with any straps inside the bag and tighten accordingly.
If possible also secure the board’s pump and three piece paddle via the straps also.
Check luggage weight restrictions with your airline and make sure your inflatable gear (inside its bag) falls below.
The same applies as above if you stow other belongings inside your iSUP bag. Don’t come a cropper with excess luggage fees.
If your airline offers free carriage of sports equipment (some do) then it’d be worth taking this option.
Make sure you take your iSUP repair kit and know how to patch a hole – just in case!
Remember to take all those necessary bits – including the fin/fins and leash!
If you’re heading somewhere particularly hot then don’t leave your inflatable board in direct sun light when inflated.
If you have any questions relating to McConks SUP gear and travelling then hit us up via the usual channels.
At time of writing the heaven’s are open and there’s a good deal of moisture kicking about. The unprecedented good weather the UK’s enjoyed through the latter part of spring and early part of summer can certainly make you think Mother Nature’s been feeling generous and it’ll prolong. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like this. The physical position of the UK, in relation to our European neighbours and the seas/oceans, means our weather will always be in a state of flux as we have weather fronts sweeping across our nature from all corners. After all, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility to get flurries of snow in parts – even as late as we are now (June 2020).
You may be one of the large numbers who’ve recently purchased a stand up paddle board to maximise the glorious weather and the fact there’s a more stay at home vibe to current proceedings. (Note: we appreciate that some overseas countries are possibly going to allow visitors as travel restrictions are lifted). So what if you’ve had your new toy land but it’s pouring?
Those marketing types who ‘sell the dream’ would have you believe (if mainstream media is concerned) that SUP is a fair-weather pastime. (Some within the stand up paddle board industry as well for that matter). Not so! We can’t stress this enough. While it’s certainly lovely to be out paddling on calm water with sunny blue skies in effect this type of scenario is a ‘nice to have’. Absolutely make the most of good conditions but also, when it’s not so idyllic, also make the most of opportunities to get afloat.
If you’re not bothered about anything more than simply paddling on flat water when it’s glorious then this may not be applicable. For anyone looking to progress with SUP, however, then any seasoned paddler will tell you getting out in all weather is the only way to improve. Of course, technique and understanding of said technique will also help, but it’s time afloat as well. And with the right paddling apparel there’s really no reason a spot of rain should halt your SUPing.
As ever safety is paramount so we’re not suggesting take on conditions that are beyond your ability. But should you gaze out of the window to grey skies and rain don’t be put off. If anything, with air temperatures still warm, a few drips will serve to cool you off as a sweat’s worked up.
Adventure SUP can be anything you want it to be: week long sojourns to the outer known; white water runs along your local patch, stopping off to camp along the way. Or more family orientated day trips to quiet coastal corners. Plus, everything else in between.
Depending on what type of adventure(s) you plan on doing McConks has the right kind of inflatable SUP for you. In fact, the adventurous spirit/ethos is deeply ingrained in the McConks brand. Whilst we’re all over other aspects of the discipline it’s this spirit of adventure that sits the best with us. Listed below are a few McConks iSUPs and how they fit the different types of adventure you’re possibly looking at.
The McConks Go Anywhere 10’6 is perfect for a couple of hours mini-adventure. It’s got enough room on deck to store a few essentials for your trip. Whilst glide and tracking will keep you straight line and true until you reach your destination.
For anyone into river running and white water SUP then McConks’ 11′ Go X Wild is the one. A super stable board, with a superior design that’s fit for purpose – and then some.
If you’re thinking of heading off for a longer sojourn then check out the McConks’ 11’4 for those in to day long adventures. With its longer length glide is improved so efficiency over greater distance is top shelf.
McConks’ 12’8 is choice for paddlers wanting to overnight; camping in the wilds, carry all your gear as you go, it may be multiple day trips or longer still. Whatever you’re thinking this iSUP will lap it up.
If you want the ultimate in touring adventure SUP then McConks’ 14′ Go Further is right on the money for multi-day trips. It eats up miles effortlessly whilst carrying you and all that necessary gear. There’re no compromises with the Go Further so why should you?
If you need any advice on what McConks equipment will suit your type of adventure then get in touch.
This week, as you might know, is SUP Safety Week organised by the Above Water guys. The aim of SUP safety week is to raise awareness about all manner of stand up paddle boarding safety issues in light of unprecedented SUP kit sales in recent weeks.
With a cocktail of events – including people furloughed due to COVID19 having spare time, people having to stay closer to home as far as holidays/trips abroad go, and the recent good weather – people want to make the most of this summer. And many of them are keen to get outdoors on a SUP (particularly inflatables), meaning there are far more newbie paddlers than in recent years.
Many of these new paddlers have little prior knowledge of watersports and no memory bank of info relating to safety on the water. There are concerns that this could lead to issues such as increased numbers of riders needing rescue.
One way to avoid this is to get a lesson. Accredited stand up paddle board instructors will be able to show paddlers the ways and get them up and dipping blades efficiently, giving advice when and where it is safe to paddle as well as how to paddle safely.
There is one point to consider, however, if you’re in the mind of getting some coaching though. Much like stand up paddle boarding itself, SUP instructors have levels of experience themselves. Many instructors, possibly even the majority of instructors, are qualified to teach only the basics in a safe and controlled manner. Level 1 instructors, if we can call them that (different training bodies use different terms), are only qualified and insured to teach beginners in sheltered water environments, because of the limited experience they have. Should the elements conspire against you – which it often can in the UK, depending on Mother Nature’s moods – then chances are you could see postponement to your lesson and/or it cancelled altogether.
Now don’t get us wrong. We’re not slating or criticising here – far from it – we’re not instructors ourselves so have no axe to grind. Anyone who’s taken the time to undergo training, get qualified and better themselves for the greater good of others should be commended – and most are on a training path to get more experience and be able to instruct in a wider range of conditions and environments. What we are saying is that if you want to stand the best chance of getting afloat and enjoying some coaching, whatever the conditions, then choose an instructor that has the right level of experience and qualifications for the type of paddling you want to do. This is especially the case if you’re wanting to develop your ability to get out and SUP in all weather post-series of lessons.
SUP is a versatile beast and much more than just flat, calm water. Paddling in wind, doing downwinders, SUPing on white water rivers and hucking drops, SUP surfing and so on are all paths you can follow. There’re are loads of avenues to branch off into with stand up paddle boarding. If taking things further than recreational paddling is in your mind then being able to develop skills under the watchful supervision of a more experienced instructor will see you make leaps and bounds. We’re not suggesting anybody go out and put themselves in harm’s way. But actually experiencing things like paddling into a headwind and knowing how to self rescue in waves, for instance, are things that can’t really be taught. You have to go through the process of it happening. Having someone close to hand who’s extremely familiar with what’s going on will only help you achieve this in as safe a manner as possible.
If you’re ambitious about your SUP future, there are instructors who are level 2 and level 3 who could take you out and give you important experience of all conditions. Do your research beforehand, and make sure you match your wants/needs with those coaches you’re considering and progress accordingly.
We’ve talked a lot about hydrofoils in this series but we appreciate that those of you reading may yet have the knowledge regarding foils, types of foil and their differences. Whilst McConks doesn’t supply foils (yet) for this part of the windSUP/windsurf/wing surf/wing foil guide we thought it a good idea to shine a spotlight on them.
Hydrofoils are made up of five component parts: foil head (the bit that attaches to your board – either deep Tuttle or US Box track mount); foil mast (the upright strut); fuselage (the long strut which the foil mast attaches to and has front and rear wings attached); front wing and stabiliser (the foil’s rear wing).
A lot of companies manufacture their foils in modular fashion. Differing fuse lengths, mast lengths, front and stab wing sizes are all interchangeable meaning riders can mix ‘n’ match and find a set up that best suits their style or styles of riding.
Modular foil components and hydrofoil sizing
For wing foiling mast lengths usually between 70cm and 90cm long is best. The longer foil mast gives more leeway in terms of overfoiling (or cavitation) when flying along. SUP foilers, meanwhile, will tend to opt for 60cm-70cm foil masts as they’ll be riding in shallower water. Shorter masts can also be a bit zippier for tighter turns.
Longer fuselages will help with earlier take offs and give better stability with shorter being better for manoeuvrability.
Front wings is where you find the majority lift from hydrofoils although rear stabiliser wings also provide this. With some rear stabs you can alter the angle of attack to induce earlier lift or more control. And depending on where you place the foil mast along the fuselage will also affect lift as well as overall feel of the foil. Being able to move the foil wing forward or back will allow riders to find the perfect balance. Centre of lift should ideally be between front and back legs but as you get better you may want a slight front foot bias. Modular foil products allow all of this tuning – you as the end user just need to tweak until you discover best fit.
Low aspect vs high aspect
In general you get two types of hydrofoil wing: low aspect and high aspect (you can also get medium aspect wings but these tend to lean towards either high or low aspect designs depending on the brand). Low aspect wings (generally) give earlier lift but are slightly slower (slow speed being relative in the grand scheme of foiling). They’re usually easier to manoeuvre and offer better rail to rail stability. Low aspect wings have a wider chord (nose to tail) and resemble shovels.
Higher aspect foil wings, in contrast, are thinner and narrower. They can still have considerable span – especially the types designed for super light wind or uber small wave performance – but are generally faster.
Most foil wings are manufactured in pre-preg carbon although some brands do offer alternative construction materials such as G-10. Carbon is generally seen as the highest performance material. A full carbon hydrofoil set up will offer the least amount of torsional flex so is arguably more efficient.
It’s not uncommon to find foils with a mix of aluminium and carbon. The foil mast and fuse are made from alloy whilst the wings remain carbon. Some companies also use steel. Full carbon foils are the most expensive whilst alloy/carbon are cheaper. For the everyday foiler carbon/alloy, from a reputable brand, will be more than adequate – in fact, you may never need to change to a full carbon set up. If you get into the high performance end of foiling, such as tricks and moves (where air time is a thing), then you do run the risk of breaking/bending foil parts. That said, plenty of riders do this kind of thing on non-carbon foils without issue.
Foils for winging
If you’re looking at wingfoiling, and wondering what foil to stump up for, then consider that winging is a low power discipline. Therefore a foil set up with a larger front wing surface area is a better call for average weight riders (80-90kg) looking to wing in moderate breeze (15-20 knots) and achieve the earliest amount of lift. Smaller stature wingers will get away with smaller wings.
As you progress, and your skills improve, it’ll be possible to drop the front foil wing size and increase elements like speed and/or manoeuvrability. But, keeping hold of your bigger foil wing will always be worthwhile if you plan on tackling super light breezes around 10-12 knots.
There are now lots of brands that produce hydrofoils for all kinds of flying. It’s a bit of a quagmire when you’re first starting out as you can’t demo kit if you can’t actually foil. There is, however, lots of advice available online, and here at McConks we have access to reputable knowledge so could point you in the right direction. We’d also suggest getting a lesson a goo idea. Wing foiling, SUP foiling and foiling in general is super fun. Gear has got a lot more user friendly so there’s no better time to learn. Hit us up with questions you might have about hydrofoil, wings or windSUP/windsurfing.
Adventure paddling can be anything you want. It doesn’t have to mean going all Bear Grylls, eating worms and living feral for days on end. It doesn’t even need to be a long duration. A few hours will often suffice in the right area.
Most new stand up paddle board owners will be content during those first few outings simply paddling along not straying that far from their original launch spot. Foundational skills will be developed at this point with progressing building blocks placed on top during the coming days. Once this is complete, and competence reached, however, what next?
This is where adventure SUP comes in. At first, it might be about investigating what’s round that next bend you’ve been eyeing up. Or perhaps circumnavigating that rock formation will be the choice. It mightn’t be covering any distance at all, instead choosing to paddle across to the opposite bank and set up camp there – content to just take it all in with a brew in hand.
For those able elongated journeys covering serious mileage is certainly doable aboard a SUP – this call to arms has been heard plenty of times. Search online and you’ll come across plenty of stories of stand up paddle boarders challenging themselves with distance and endurance paddles. The iconic Yukon 1000 is a case in point.
Stand up paddle board versatility is what makes these epic and mellower adventure paddles easy to accomplish. That upfront bungee cord, which mightn’t have seemed that important at the start of your SUP journey, suddenly reveals its usage for transporting paraphernalia like cooking utensils or sleeping gear for overnighters. As a board you’ve learned on you find the potential for SUP adventures with the same piece of equipment. There aren’t many other activities which can say the same.
As 2020’s summer of SUP surges forward there’ll no doubt be plenty of opportunity for paddling adventures aplenty. All you’ve got to do is decide what type of adventure floats your boat – or should that be board?
We’ve talked about sea breezes if you’re thinking of paddling at coastal venues before. And we’ve talked about scoring the flattest water, and least blowy conditions, by seeking shelter. There’s lots of chat about wind currently doing the rounds and how not using it to good effect can be to the detriment of your SUP session or even become a life threatening issue. Being blown out to sea, for instance, can happen to those unaware.
Wind, though, can be your friend if you let it. And we don’t mean in a windsurf, windSUP or wing surf kind of way – we’re still talking conventional stand up paddle boarding here.
Watermen and women who discovered SUP over ten years ago were using the wind to propel themselves forwards on a journey. With gusts at their backs paddlers would head off with aims of not only being driven downwind (as is the term) they’d also be aiming to catch rolling swell, ‘bumps’, and ride them much like a surfer will ride a breaking wave. The act of downwinding is very much a thing within SUP and can be taken to extreme lengths for those with experience.
Downwind paddling doesn’t have to be extreme, however. With planning and thought, coupled with a decent skillset, stand up paddlers can ‘do a downwinder’ albeit in mellower form.
With wind blowing onto your place of launch it’s possible to head out and paddle straight into those gusts. It’ll be hard going, we’ll admit, and you’ll need to dig deep with your paddle to make headway. But persevere and after a short while you’ll have covered some distance. Then it’s a case of pivoting round and enjoying the fruits of your labour. Being huffed along can be super fun. If you can time it with catching bumps as well then all the better. Once back at point A, if you have enough energy, spin again and repeat.
Cross shore wind
Either blowing left to right, or right to left, wind from these quadrants will propel riders along their chosen stretch. This direction of wind is most preferable as you can put in at point A and with logistics sorted paddle some distance to point B. There it’ll be a case of taking your gear out and jumping in your transport with absolutely no into wind paddling at all. But as we say you’ll need to plan accordingly and make sure you have a means of transport at both ends.
Downwind stand up paddling can be some of the best SUP you can experience. With a decent set of skills in place, understanding of conditions and appropriate safety measures taken it’s a way to make use of blowy sessions without sticking a sail on your board or using a wing.
Things to consider before ‘doing a downwinder’
MAKE SURE YOU WERE A GOOD QUALITY LEASH (we put this in capitals for good reason!).
DON’T GO OUT IN OFFSHORE WINDS (this also needs to be reitterated!).
Paddle with a buddy or buddies.
Carry a means of communication like a mobile phone of VHF.
Make sure you know what the weather is going to do – get a forecast.
Understand tides and know tide times for the day.
Make sure your skills are up to the job in hand. Mellow wind strengths can be fun – you don’t need it to be blowing like a hoolie! DON’T TAKE ON CONDITIONS THAT ARE TOO EXTREME.
Sort your logistics. Have transport at either end of your downwind run.
Tell someone, or even multiple people, what you intend doing.
Have fun and embrace the wind!
The following video gives an example of where you can take your downwind SUP paddling, if you choose to.
When wings exploded onto the scene (proper) in 2019 there was a lot of chat surrounding the size riders would need – specifically a 4m – and how this would be enough to harness most wind strengths whether in foil mode or non-foil mode). Anyone with experience of windsports, such as kitesurfing or windsurfing (particularly those from the real world), were sceptical. If it’s blowing 18-20knts, which was quoted by some companies as the wind band 4m wings started working in properly, then average weight windsurfers, for instance, would be looking to rig at least 6m sails. And an air filled product, such as a wing, isn’t going to be as efficient as a windsurfing sail due to it bending and contorting. A sail’s rigid mast, pre-cut shape and battens all combine to make a sail react with superior aerodynamic properties.
And so it comes to pass…With the start of 2020’s summer season (COVID aside) most brands touting 4m wings as the one product you need in your life have altered their message slightly and launched multiple sizes from around 3m with some companies offering up to 8m.
Having had extensive experience of wingsurfing McConks, and those who’ve helped by supplying feedback during the Go Fly prototyping process, all concur that wing sizes are more or less comparable to windsurfing sail sizes vs the given wind strength. For instance, if it’s 6m windsurfing weather then you’ll most likely be needing a 6m wing.
Of course, rider skill will play a part to certain degrees. An experienced wing foiler, who has the necessary pumping technique (pumping being the up and down motion of pulling in and letting out the wing as gusts hit, as well as being able to pump the foil) may be able to drop to a 5m in the same wind strength and possibly less over time. Lighter weight riders will likely be using smaller again. But it’s all relative; wings need power!
The more power you have the easier wing surfing/foiling is – certainly when starting out and progressing. Having your power source not connected to the board, whilst one of the benefits of winging (freedom of movement is a nice feeling), there’s nothing other than the wind to support riders whilst being propelled along. In light airs you don’t have as much support so winging becomes very much a balancing act. Add gusty breeze and choppy waters to the mix and the whole thing can be a chore.
McConks currently supplies the Go Fly 5m wing. It has a decent wind range with a 20 ish knot starting point for 85-90kg riders using a floaty wing foil board and large winged foil. Its upper range reaches around 30 knots so there’s plenty of stronger wind performance built in. The next few weeks will see a 6m Go Fly wing arrive which we’ll be testing. This should lower the bottom end wind range as well as making for more efficient and early foiling flights. Stay tuned on this as – we’ll report findings when we can.
Wings are certainly entertaining and do open up a whole world of additional conditions for getting wet. You just have to be realistic about your wants/needs when it comes to winging and act accordingly. If you have any questions about McConks’ Go Fly 5m, or 1.5m kiddy version, then let us know.
Here at McConks HQ we’ve spent a happy hour reminiscing about our long-ago holiday to Montenegro following a post on SUP Hacks a while back.
It was a real adventure, which only came about because it was the location of that year’s Fat Face catalogue and Jen liked the look of it (true story!). Andy (and his wallet) were very relieved when Fat Face started shooting their catalogues closer to home.
Disclaimer: bear in mind that this was hmm, probably 10-15 years ago (ed: it was 2007 so lots will have changed), so everything is probably very different there now!
We flew into Dubrovnik, Croatia, as it was much cheaper than flying to Montenegro, hired a car and drove down to Baya Kotorska (Kotor Bay, named after the stunning Venetian town nestled in its south-east corner up against the mountains). We stayed for just over a week in Perast, a gorgeous smaller Venetian-era town on the Bay, a stunningly-beautiful unspoilt fjord – actually the southernmost fjord in Europe.
I’d love to think that it is still as unspoilt, but who knows. Our apartment there had 5 empty 5l bottles in the bathroom, which seemed strange when we arrived. Then the first evening there was no water after about 8pm. It didn’t turn on again until 8am the next day. Odd, but water problems happen… Then it happened again the next day and the next. It transpired that the water was turned off overnight across the country to reduce demand and the lady who rented us the apartment hadn’t warned us. She later claimed not to be aware of the problem, but it’s not normal to keep a stash of empty water bottles in the bathroom.
We had a gorgeous week; swimming, enjoying the scenery and going out on the water in our inflatable canoe. How I wish we could transport some McConks boards to our younger selves! Andy also ate his best ever seafood meal there…
Just in front of our apartment was an open-air restaurant on the waterfront. We were the only customers one evening when Andy thought he’d try the stuffed squid. We were assured that there was no problem. And then we waited and waited. The salad that we were going to eat alongside came, but no word of our main courses. Eventually, we ate it, in case they were waiting for us to finish before bringing the next course out. But no, we sat there, it got dark, we felt awkward, but being British didn’t like to question. The waiter was also clearly awkward about what was going on but didn’t know enough English to explain.
After forever (about 90 minutes), we heard a splash from the nearby pontoon and saw someone get out of a boat and head towards the kitchen. All of a sudden the place came alive. Noise and smells of squid being cooked. Shortly after the waiter brought our main courses and apologised for the delay. Turned out they’d run out of squid so they’d sent a boat out to catch some! Andy’s best ever squid – and squid is his most favourite seafood, so this was a good day.
Side note: Jen is veggie, and in those days, they really didn’t get the concept. She was offered salad, ‘yes please, sounds great’. ‘One lamb salad then coming up’, umm no. Generally, all that she could eat was plain grilled mushrooms on plain cooked rice. Both cooked beautifully but with no seasoning, sauces or anything. Or plates of boiled mountain greens. Healthy, but not very inspiring. The highlight was a meal that consisted of three very beautifully cooked, but very small, button mushrooms presented as a main course!
Coast to mountain road trip
Our adventure continued with a road trip. We headed down the coast a bit. Sveti Stefan, a tombolo (one for the geography geeks), would be an amazing paddle around, although I think the island itself is a luxury resort. Budva was already too spoilt and touristy for us then, so I dread to imagine what it’s like today. The real adventure came when we turned inland and headed for Durmitor National Park. All was going well, until a couple of hours into our journey, out in the middle of nowhere, all the road signs suddenly changed to the Cyrillic alphabet! Don’t forget this was in the days before sat-nav, and the map we were following most definitely did not feature the Cyrillic alphabet. After a few more rather tense hours, we arrived at Zabljak and drove around in disbelief. The hotel we’d thought sounded nice in the guide book looked like it was abandoned, with broken glass in the windows in the upper levels and the whole town looked (and felt) stuck in the Soviet era. You would not have been surprised to turn a corner and meet an army platoon marching towards you ready to mow you down. The surrounding countryside was stunning, and perhaps we just got off on the wrong foot, but the whole place gave us the heebie-jeebies, never more so than in the hotel-with-broken-window’s dining room at breakfast the next morning (yep, we stayed there, turned out it wasn’t abandoned!).
We’d heard lots of good things about the Durmitor National Park, but we never quite managed to see the best of it, which is apparently a ski area in the winter and an extreme sports mecca in the summer
Road trip – Mountains to Skadar
After a lovely stopover in Kolasin (on the tora river for the whitewater freaks), bar the steaming drunk coach of the national volleyball team mistaking our room for his in the middle of the night (thankfully we’d locked the door, but he was very persistent with trying to come in!), we travelled to Lake Skadar, the largest lake in southern Europe, and on the border with Albania. It is a beautiful lake, which we’d hoped to get out on with our canoe, but there was very firm advice not to, in case you inadvertently stayed into Albanian waters. Apparently they could be ‘hostile’ to such hapless tourists. No fear though, whilst enjoying lunch, a dapper old gent approached us and persuaded us to buy tickets for what turned out to be the most random boat trip of our lives. There were about 8 of us, including an American guy. Bush Jr had been just voted President and he couldn’t stop apologising for his fellow citizens (I imagine he’d welcome Bush with open arms now!). There was also an extremely nervous lady, who’s disposition was not helped by the captain. He drove along drinking cans of beer, chucking them over the side when they were empty (into the Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance), and then set the boat steering around in a circle while he went to do a wee. It was hilarious, although the poor nervous lady was hysterical and thought she was going to die.
The last few days of our holiday passed very pleasantly, we ended up back in Perast for the last couple of days as we enjoyed the scenery so much. We’d planned to have a few days in Dubrovnik, but we always end up choosing water over city. Our very last bit of adventure was driving back through Croatia heading for the airport. Andy overtook crossing a solid white line (tut tut), and got spotted by some Croatian police who were not impressed. They pulled us over, and with a very strong language barrier indicated that we should pay a fine. We had never had any Croatian money, as all we’d done was drive the hour to the Montenegrin border. It took much gesticulating and apologising to convince them we had no money. Initially they kept crossing out the sum they’d said, and lowering the amount, but nothing is nothing whichever way you look at it. At one point there was a suggestion that we would be escorted to a cash point, which we didn’t really have time for as we had a plane to catch. Eventually though they realised they were wasting time that could have been spent getting money out of more lucrative victims and drove off in disgust.
We had such an eventful, but equally amazing holiday there, and we often talk about going back, with a car full of paddle boards! One to look forward to when life returns to a little more normal. There were many signs then of the recent conflicts, although there was plenty of European and US donor aid investment going into the area. Sadly we know that there’s a massive new cruise ship terminal there. But hopefully the collapse of cruise ship trade will put paid to that!
But it’s a SUP hotspot. Do it if you’re even vaguely interested!
At time of writing the weather’s currently on the cooler side with much in the way of rain showers and the occasional thunderstorm. For the time of year this isn’t unusual. What mostly follows periods of warm, sunny conditions are cooler, slightly wetter conditions. But, the Met Office is suggesting there’re signs of a return to warmer, sunnier days in the not too distant future. We quote:
‘There are signs of a more settled and dry spell of weather becoming established for many parts towards the middle part of the first week. It will probably become generally warm, perhaps very warm in places, especially for southeastern areas.’
Why are we reporting this? Most new stand up paddlers aren’t from watersports backgrounds where hanging about on wind swept beaches is the norm. Knowing how to use the elements, such as breeze, is something you get used to in time. For the short term those paddlers looking to take first tentative strokes or build on foundations want brighter, calmer, warmer weather which, we’ll admit, is far more enticing for getting afloat.
There are still caveats to the above prediction, however. If you’re coastal bound then beware of sea breezes which occur as the land warms and cooler air rushes in from the sea. A seemingly calm forecast might not be the case upon arrival at the beach if you’re not taking this into consideration. Earlier, morning sessions, or late evening paddles are usually a better bet for calmer water.
So, if you’ve just gotten hold of your new stand up paddle board gear, and/or you’ve only been out a few times since acquiring your spangly new SUP then you could be in for a good few days to get those paddling muscles working.
As always, if you need a hand with anything SUP kit related or have queries relating to conditions and what you should be looking out for then let us know.
Using a stand up paddle board for Yoga, or rather an inflatable floating platform (as not all Yoga ‘boards’ are actually boards) has been a ‘thing’ for a while now. With SUP’s current momentum, however, there’s a surge of interest in this area of stand up paddle boarding. Here’re a few points to consider when choosing relevant SUP kit for practising Yoga.
The most important things with SUP Yoga boards are width and volume, which equate to stability. Depending on your level of Yoga skill board choice should (mainly) be determined by these factors. More advanced Yogis may want narrower, lower volume platforms to increase the challenge. Also, the body of water you’re intending to perform upon should be a consideration. Choppier, open water venues, that’re exposed to the elements will require more stable craft for instance.
The durability and robust nature of your chosen Yoga SUP is another key factor. If you’re intending to raft up, where the board may be bouncing and rubbing against hard surfaces, such as quaysides, river banks and other boards, then a hard wearing PVC skin, such as you find with McConks’ inflatable range, is an important consideration. You may also be falling, which requires clambering back aboard. Lesser quality products will see deck pads start to become quickly unglued from the deck as you drag your torso and knees back onboard.
Many inflatables come with bungee cord on the deck for stowing your essentials, such as water bottles, footwear and drybags. If you’re into SUP Yoga having options for keeping your belongings above water is a point to consider. Also, securing your paddle whilst you practise Yoga needs to be carefully looked at. The last thing you want is your main form of propulsion to slide off into the depths.
By connectivity, we’re referring to your leash. Safety when going afloat – for any type of SUP – should be paramount. When practising SUP Yoga wearing a buoyancy aid isn’t really conducive to efficiency. A BA will get in the way of you being able to pose so there needs to be another way to connect to your biggest form of flotation. A decent coiled leash will therefore be choice. It doesn’t need to be attached to the board’s rear either. You can couple to the handle of your SUP which makes for easier posing.
We’ve talked about making sure you having an adequate way of staying in contact with your board whilst you indulge. It might also be worth looking at adjustable paddles as these can collapse down for easier stowing. As much as you’re looking to use your floating platform for SUP Yoga you’ll most likely be wanting to actually paddle in conventional stand up paddle boarding mode at some point. With that in mind it’s your paddle that’s super important so getting hold of the best type you can is a good idea.
If you haven’t come across Rapid Skills coaching before they’re a top notch kayak, SUP and guiding company run by Josh Telling and Tom Botterill. Both have extensive experience in paddle sports, guiding and working in the outdoors. They offer guided trips all over the UK, plus a number of overseas destinations, and coaching to suit all levels. Oh, and they just happen to endorse McConks SUP gear, which we obviously approve of.
Tom recently did a beginner stand up paddle boarding video and posted it to the Rapid Skills Facbook page. In the vid Tom runs through a few different points to get you up and paddling in no time. You can check out the video below.
If you’re thinking about teaching your kids to windsurf then you’d do a lot worse than showing them the ways with an applicable inflatable board – such as McConks’ 9’8 Go Free crossover SUP. Whilst the Go Free is great for adults, who also fancy a dabble with the windier end of stand up, it’s perfect for kids as well. Here’s why:
Firstly, the Go Free is an air board meaning should a rider stumble and trip then it’s a much softer surface to land on with more of a bounce than you’d get with a hard board. Inflatables also don’t scuff skin. A non-abrasive surface is therefore kinder to sensitive skin.
The Go Free 9’8 has three different fin boxes; one centrally located US style type and two Click Fin side bites. This means you can remove the larger centre fin and run the board using only those smaller sides. That’s particularly good for shallow water windsurfing. Avoiding deeper stretches will inspire more confidence in children and aid the learning process. And even when removing the centre fin, which will give efficient directional stability for adults, the hard rubber release edge on the hindquarter’s rail of the Go Free will aid straight-line tracking, thereby offsetting not having the middle fin in its box.
Speaking about the hard release edge; upwind ability is improved even without having something like a daggerboard or secondary fin, placed further along the hull’s centre line towards the nose, in place. This rubber edge is sort of halfway house but will the Go Free 9’8 track better on close haul points of sail. For those children at this stage, who’re developing their skills, being able to ‘point’ upwind more efficiently is a winner.
Different footstrap options, with the Go Free‘s inboard/outboard settings, are brilliant to get your offspring used to fixed stance sailing – even without actually planing. Adults, of course, can put the straps outboard with a quick and simple swap out. For kids, being able to stand more inboard, will give a ‘feel’ and help develop that all-important muscle memory.
The McConks Go Free 9’8 is fast, even at low speed. Whilst it’s composed for beginners as your kids improve (and adults for that matter) and are looking to generate speed it’s a board that’ll accommodate. To the point where it’ll take riders from simply floating to proper planing windsurfing.
McConks’ 9’8 Go Free isn’t prone to dinging like hard windsurf/windSUP boards. Kids and adults alike will drop their rig often but it’ll just bounce off. Also, spatial awareness isn’t as heightened during the learning process. There’s a likelihood you’ll crash the board. Being inflatable should ensure no real damage occurs though.
We’ll admit that hard windsurfing boards do have a performance edge (just). But for kids learning how to windsurf and progress you can’t really beat an inflatable like the McConks Go Free 9’8.
Top tips for getting your kids windsurfing
Take things slow. Let them ‘drive’ and make it more about fun than anything else.
Use a lightweight, preferably kiddy specific sail, boom and mast that’ll have dimensions suitable for little hands and limbs.
Aim for a shallower stretch of water and avoid strong flow or tide.
Make sure your kids wear a buoyancy aid, wetsuit and helmet if necessary.
Attach a tether, such as a rope, to stop them drifting off downwind but still giving a degree of independence.
Don’t bombard your kids with too much technical info – they’re way more intuitive than you’d think.
Laugh about the learning process. If they fall off keep it light and not serious.
Keep an eye on children getting too cold – even on the warmest days they’ll feel a chill after a short while.
Aim to get them windsurfing regularly. The more your kids windsurf the quicker they’ll progress.
For some, in tandem with on water stand up paddle boarding, comes land paddling. The act of riding (usually) a longboard style skateboard with a ‘stick’ in hand is indeed part of the same sport. Much like your usual floating SUP shenanigans, land paddling uses the ‘paddle’ and ‘stroke’ to propel riders forward. It’s a good method for cross-training and keeping that stand up paddling muscle memory tuned up during off water periods.
The addition of hydrofoils and wings has seen SUP – an already super versatile activity – become even more so. Now flying through the air, above the water, is an evolution of ‘connected to water SUP’ that a good many already do and lots more are starting to get involved with.
Just as land paddling was an extension of floating stand up so wing surf skating is an extension of wing foiling. Wings have truly added an additional element to SUP which when coupled with the right board and applicable weather conditions will see much fun to be had away from the water. It’s also a great way to familiarise yourself with the wing itself and how your new windy engine needs to be manoeuvred when you eventually take it to the water. Hand placements can all be practised in this way giving a head start. It doesn’t stop there either. Pair your McConks Go Fly 5m wing with a skimboard, snowboard, skis or even ice skates, if you have ready access to these types of riding arena, and you’re covered for all eventualities weather wise.
It should be noted that wing skating isn’t quite the same as winging on water – this much should be obvious. First of all, you’re riding on Terra Firma which is hard. Should you bail there’s packed tarmac to land on that’s going to hurt a little more than splashing into water. Also, whilst your McConks wing surfing wing is robust and tough, asphalt scuffs can do damage so you’d be better, at least during first time runs, to aim for grassy areas which won’t ding as much should you drop your Go Fly wing.
If you’re keen to try a bit of wing skating then most forms of skateboard are applicable. That said a longer skateboard or specific land paddle sled, that’s a little wider , will yield best results. If you want to take things further maybe consider a mountain/all terrain board. Their bigger wheels are better for rougher ground. Although they’re usually heavier than skateboard decks so will require more power/wind in your wing to get them moving.
For those who become adept at wing skating the door’s wide open. Jumps/boosts and carving tricks are all possible. Wing surfing/wing foiling on water has barely had its surface scratched with wing skating on land even more so. Who knows what can be achieved in time…
Top tips for wing skating
Use a longboard skateboard or land paddle specific board for better stability.
Choose a grassy area with less rough/hard ground for your first runs.
Wear a helmet, elbow pads, knee pads and other protection.
Wear appropriate footwear – land paddling and wing skating shouldn’t be done in your flip flops!
Stay away from others, go somewhere quiet – most people won’t appreciate what you’re doing and may even be alarmed.
Avoid fixed objects like trees, lampposts, stumps and similar.
Don’t drag your wing across rough surfaces as you’re likely to cause damage to your Go Fly.
Practise with just the wing first, getting some understanding of how to power up, depower and manoeuvre the Go Fly.
For anyone who keeps a keen eye on watersports trends and fashions, 2019 was the year that wing foiling really took off (pun intended!). Although wings have been around since the 80s, and some ‘mad scientists’ have continued to use wings since back in the day, it’s only recently that wings have really captured the watersports zeitgeist. And that’s for two key reasons – a. hydrofoils and b. inflatable technology.
Early incarnations of wings were made using similar canopy material to windsurf sails, the other notable difference being the wing‘s struts which were hard, much like windsurfing masts. With improved inflatable construction and efficiency, born of the inflatable stand up paddle board industry, this tech has been implemented with wings. Inflatable wing designs are now much lighter weight, easy to pack down and transport/store and arguably easier to use on the water – whether foiling or not.
(Wings and non-foil riding is a separate topic and one we’ll cover in a different article. For this post we’ll talk specifically about wing foiling).
So what exactly is wing foiling?
Simply put it’s plugging a modern hydrofoil into an applicable board (usually a foil ready SUP or hybrid foil specific board). Then the rider in question will hop aboard and use their wing – held aloft – to harness the power of breeze and be propelled along. At certain speeds (usually quite low with the right type of foil) the hydrofoil’s lift kicks in raising the rider and board above the water. As soon as this ‘release’ occurs everything turns silent and frictionless because of the lack of water contact. Wingers will be flying solely off the foil only using the board as a platform to perch and control the foil. In foiling mode manoeuvrability is greatly improved when compared to winging with a board stuck to the water. And the upwind and downwind capabilities of your equipment are far superior on foil to that of being off foil.
Having mastered the basics it’s then a choice of how to ride. Wingers can stick with those back and forth, upwind/downwind runs, possibly chucking in some foiling turns at either end. Others may have a bash at ‘moves’ such as jumping and the emerging foil style discipline – although that’s quite technical. The most popular route for wing foilers is into waves.
Using wings riders head out beyond breaking waves before turning round and heading back towards the beach to ride swells, just like in SUP foil mode. The only difference is wingers have this ‘thing’ in their hands. Having picked up a wave the trick is to luff the wing by holding onto the front strut handle with one hand, allowing it float behind the rider’s back on the breeze. This total depower and ‘forgetting’ of the wing allows foilers to use the power of each swell to keep them foiling and perform moves (at least those with skill) reminiscent of surfers (think carving), the only difference being it’s all done above water. Having completed a wave ride it’s then a case of carving board and foil round to face back out to sea, grabbing the wing simultaneously to utilise the wind’s power. This process is then repeated.
(Note: the above vid is Kai Lenny who has obviously spent considerable time honing his skills! This level of wing foiling won’t occur overnight and is simply and example of what you can do).
But is it hard to learn?
For first timers grabbing a wing and heading out their McConks inflatable SUP, without a hydrofoil, harnessing the wind and getting a feel for going back and forth is easily achievable. Riders WILL end up downwind to begin with which is to be expected. The trick is to use the board’s tail edge, by depressing it slightly, in conjunction with the wing‘s power to edge upwind.
On from that it’s then a case of learning how to foil. McConks doesn’t provide hydrofoils or foil boards (yet). A low aspect, shovel like foil (which is a touch slower and more stable), combined with a higher volume and fairly wide foil board will yield best results to start. If you can get a few tows behind a boat or jetski then this’ll give better a understanding of how the foil lifts and reacts.
Following this you may decide to test your foiling mettle in waves – just be sure NOT to go where others are when learning. SUP foiling is great fun when done in smaller, crumbly swells and will teach riders a lot about the foil’s reactivity.
With time on the water under your belt, both on foil (either behind a boat and/or in waves) and off, combined with wing wind exercises, such as learning how to change hands, you’ll be ready to pair the two in actual wingfoil mode soo enough.
There’re a few skills you’ll need to actually take off. Getting to your knees first, then powering up the wing a little will give stability and something to lean against as you pop to your feet. Once standing powering up the wing further, by sheeting in (without dipping the wing tips into the water causing a crash), will increase stability further. These are the exact movements you employ if wing riding aboard your McConks SUP without a foil. The key part next is to pump. Hopefully you’ll understand a bit about pumping from your time spent flying behind a board and/or on waves. Pumping is a case of weighting and unweighting the board to push the foil up and down thereby inducing water flow around the foil wings. Pumping the wing in tandem will also help (this is a skill you can practice on the beach and in non-foil mode also). Quick smart you’ll suddenly find the foil lifting and be flying above the water.
Written down the above sounds quite convoluted and technical – it is to a degree but not as hard as you might think if you take things step by step. For actual specific technique details check out the many videos online that’ll hopefully help. The below gives an example of how to get on foil with the McConks Go Fly 5m wing using the described technique above.
For any questions about the McConks Go Fly 5m wing get in touch.
You can read the parts of our windSUP/windsurf/wing surfing/wing foil articles by hitting the links below.
Stay tuned to the McConks blog for more about the windy side of SUP coming shortly –
It’s an understatement and rather a cliche to say that the times we current live in are unprecedented. But they are definitely bizarre! From the stand up paddle board industry’s point of view it’s also the same. In the last few weeks, since lockdown restrictions were eased ever so slightly, demand for SUP equipment has gone through the roof. We’ve mentioned it previously, but just in case you missed it, McConks has never been so busy. For the month of June so far, we’re 700% up on the same period last year. And despite the downturn in the weather, there’s no downturn in enquiries and sales.
For a whole number of reasons people want stand up paddle boards in their lives, often, more than one, but in particular inflatables are in high demand. The benefits of iSUP has been promoted extensively so we’ll not bang on about it. Good weather, of course, has played its part, but so has having to be at home (or at least in the local vicinity), with restrictions imposed for overseas travel. And not being able to hire from many place has played it’s part. Events have conspired to provoke thoughts along the lines of: ‘what can I do outdoors, perhaps on the water, that’s fun and will enhance my staycation?‘. The natural conclusion for many (who may have previously seen SUP but been putting it off or hiring in the short term) is to purchase a stand up paddle board. The reduced spend on overseas holidays may have freed up a little money to go down this route as well.
We always say getting a short lesson is the best start to your paddleboarding life. But it’s not always easy to find a SUP instructor near to you. The different accreditation bodies might have their own maps showing their accredited instructors. But if you don’t care whether your instructor is British Canoeing (BC), Water Skills Academy (WSA), British Standup Paddleboard Association (BSUPA) or Academy of Surf Instructors (ASI) accredited (and you probably don’t need to worry too much as they all have their weaknesses and strengths), then a single map that shows all of the SUP instructors might be of more use.
We agree, and that’s why we use some of our precious profits to sponsor SUPhubUK to develop the most up to date and complete set of maps of SUP instructors, SUP schools, SUP clubs and SUP launch places.
But it’s only as good as the information we get. If you know a local SUP company that’s not on the map whether it be a shop, instructor, school, club, please add them here.
One of windsurfing’s biggest issues is the weight of the rig (sail, boom, mast). Even though over the years these issues have been addressed, and lighter and lighter materials have been used, the fact remains: windsurf sails and their associated component parts are still weighty. If you then consider as a newbie windsurfer you have to pull the rig out the water, with it lying just under the surface (so therefore has additional weight on top until it drains as you lift), it’s a hassle to learn. It should be said that uphauling technique doesn’t take long to master but it’s still an obstacle to overcome – even more so for children.
A large appealing part of wings is the sheer weightlessness of them. Wingsurfing wings also sit on top of the water and float, because they’re filled with air. So straight away you have two factors which are removed, when compared to windsurfing sails, that make the breezy end of riding boards on water quicker to master. And from a kiddy wingsurfing perspective this is an even bigger win.
McConks provide kiddy 1.5m wings specifically designed with your offspring in mind. But it shows how easy they are to wield when young children can lift and wave about the McConks full size 5m version (obviously in really light airs!). The fact remains, however: if you want to get your kids into blowy board riding, and/or you yourself fancy having another option for when the breeze picks up, you’d do a lot worse than getting hold of a wingsurfing wing.
For those with ambition, and the desire to progress, there’s the wing foiling end of the discipline whereby riders fly above the water in hydrofoil mode. So, craft stuck to the water, powered by a wing, or boards flying above the sea, powered by a wing; the choice is yours. Kids and adults apply here…
For more info on wingsurfing, wingfoiling, windSUP and windsurfing check out the first two parts of this series below –
McConks Go Fly 5m wing overview
McConks 9’8 Go Free crossover SUP/windSUP/windsurf/wingsurf board over view