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Inflatable innovation unlocked

If you know anything about McConks, then you will already know that two things underpin our brand: innovation and sustainability.

Over the last 18 months we have been working with a number of materials manufacturers from other sectors to develop and innovate the inflatable SUP sector, to improve performance and sustainability.

Why have we been doing this?

Because, as every true SUP aficionado knows, an inflatable SUP comes nowhere near replicating the performance of hard boards – especially in the Race, Downwind and Surf disciplines. Everyone agrees that McConks makes some of the most rigid and long lasting SUPs in the world. And despite this world acclaim for performance, sustainability and ethics, they’re still a way off the performance of a hardboard.

Right time and place

McConks are lucky that Andy has worked in the disciplines of engineering and sustainability, and has excellent links to some of Europe’s best materials institutes and research institutions. Because of this, he has been able to access grant funding from the green recovery fund, Innovate UK, and some local funding from GFirst LEP. This has allowed us to work with some of the worlds most renowned hydroinformatics and technology institutes like Delft , MIT and Luleå University of Technology (huge, massive, unending thanks to all our partners – it has been painful at times, but we’ve got there!).

Peer Review?

We’re in the process of developing a paper with all of our partners to submit to a proper journal. But that takes a long time when done by committee! When we do, our R&D will be open to peer review, but after weeks of negotiation with our partners (some wanted to wait until we had gone through peer review), we’ve finally got the go ahead to share the news via McConks. And what exciting news it is. Totally groundbreaking in the world of inflatable watersports equipment. Admittedly, we’re standing on the shoulders of giants, the aerospace pioneers AirBUS have been developing this technology for the aviation world, and we remain massively in their debt for letting us piggy back on their patents and IPR (proving it’s not what you know, but who you know). And this really is truly groundbreaking. We’re not just taking something another brand has already done and marketing it better (that’s what normally counts for innovation in the SUP world). This will change the inflatable SUP world forever.

So what’s all the fuss about? It’s all to do with Hållbar.

Hållbar

McConks are so excited to announce the world’s first inflatable hard race sup – The Hållbar.

We have been working with our partners to develop revolutionary material called Hållbartuffuppblåsbartrasa ™ (cool name thanks to our Swedish university partners!) inspired by developments with non-newtonian materials like D3O used in protection for high impact sports. Hållbartuffuppblåsbartrasa ™ is flexible, just like the materials used in our iSUPS until inflated greater than 21.756 psi. At this pressure the force acting on the material makes it become as stiff as a full carbon raceboard and tougher than multiple layers of kevlar. For once we can boast that our boards really are bullet-proof! Only when fully inflated of course.

This unique property has allowed us to re-define the way that an iSUP is made. Using advanced fabric welding techniques developed in Norway we have been able to develop a new race board based on the Aleut kayak principles. Shout out to Aleut kayak expert Steve Burge who has provided detailed shaping and design knowledge around why, and how Aleutian boats were so so fast and quiet.

Furthermore we are working with our pump suppliers in the far east on new pump technology. Our HydrogenAir Pump will allow you to inflate to 21.756 psi by hand in less than 2 minutes while also reducing the weight of the inflated board.

Although we’re focussing on the race sector right now, this technology will eventually transfer to surf, foil and windsup later this year, and to our entire range in 2022. Hållbartuffuppblåsbartrasa™ is the future! We’re even exploring ways to make paddles with this superstiff technology. The only thing holding us back at the moment, is a high pressure, high quality valve that fits a paddle shaft. But we do have a prototype in development.

The other discipline where this is beyond exciting is with foils and wings. We have prototypes demonstrating that inflatable foils with Hållbartuffuppblåsbartrasa™ technology are not only possible, but better than carbon foils. They’re insanely expensive right now, but we’re hoping to use the Innovate UK funding to scale this up, so that ultimately. you’ll be able to buy an inflatable, as light and rigid as a carbon foil, for less than £350. And of course, there are the wings and sails themselves! The future is limitless and very exciting.

We need you!

What other products do you think would benefit from rigid inflatable Hållbartuffuppblåsbartrasa™ technology? (worldwide patent pending). Please comment below, or on our social media profiles. This really is the biggest innovation to hit the SUP world since the first iSUP was launched!

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