As far as SUP goes we’re in a unique situation currently. We all know there’ve been hordes of newbies coming into the fold and whilst a large proportion of those stand up paddlers will stick with what they know (recreational SUPing) there’ll be those looking to push and progress.
Versatility has always been a thing with SUP. It’s one of those activities that you can take anywhere. And as things stand in 2020 the foiling arm of the sport has added a whole new dimension. But dialling it back to standing on a platform and paddling is where the resetting of the clock can happen and the industry (McConks included) do things differently than before.
Back pre-2010 there was a huge push from manufacturers and interested paddlers to see what could be done with this new fangled watersports gear. Pretty soon, as seem to be the way with this kind of thing, equipment had gone super high performance with marketing messages suggesting ‘you need this to be able to do that’. Which in most cases just isn’t true.
Spotlighting SUP surfing as an example: the notion riders need to paddling sub-9′ boards with as little volume as possible, combined with narrow board widths (30″ or less), is the only way to achieve manoeuvrability and carving agility. If you’re looking for the absolute pinnacle of rippability then yes this might be the case. But for most paddlers venturing into wave environments a standard 10’6 will do the job just fine – even an inflatable. And we’re talking real world surf conditions here not macking overhead bombs! Knee/waist high peelers are more than doable for a spot of SUP surfing and your trusty all round SUP will cope just fine.
With sales and interest in these ‘sinkers’ lacking an about turn was performed by many SUP companies around 2015. Brands started to make those longer boards more manoeuvrable whilst balancing their all round flat water appeal. To a degree, however, interest had been lost and SUP surfing remains a niche within a niche.
The above is just one example of how things have evolved. With so many new SUPers entering the 2020 fold there’s now a chance to re-educate. Again, picking on SUP surfing as the example, any kind of wave – from ankle lappers to head high reelers – are ripe for a bit of stand up paddling. The gear you purchased this summer for those first forays will do you proud if there’s a fancy for getting among the surf. Of course, if you feel the need to upgrade down then line and own something more tuned up for wave riding then this can happen. In the short term, however, it’s not imperative this happen – you’ll still be having fun whatever ‘log’ you choose to slide atop.
It doesn’t just stop there, however. SUP racing white water river running and every other aspect stand up paddling is ripe for the picking. You don’t need specialist kit per se you just need to stay safe. That’s the more important point. Purchasing that full on surf SUP can happen down the line if you’re that into it you feel the need.