SUP beginnings – everything new and improving paddlers need to know.

Paddle boarding is an accessible watersport – in fact probably THE most accessible watersport of them all. If you’re looking for a watery activity that can be done anywhere there’s a body of liquid then paddle boarding is it. You don’t need wind or waves, you just need a board and paddle then you’re good to go. Whilst paddle boarding is very accessible, it’s also surprisingly easy to get yourself into trouble if you don’t have experience.  And so our job is to make you as safe as possible as easily as possible. 

We want to encourage everyone onto the water, all ages, sizes and abilities. And to do so as safely as possible. We come from a long history of watersports at McConks, and we want to use our experience to help all paddleboarders stay safe, and be responsible on the water.

 

 

 


Paddle boarding beginnings – our Team McConks passion

Getting beginner paddle boarders up and riding is a McConks passion.

We hope this page is the ultimate beginners paddleboarding reference guide. From the basics like which way to hold your paddle, to what kit you need, to where to paddle safely and responsibly, to how to keep your gear in tip top condition, everything a new paddleboarder needs to know is in this article. And we’ve also linked to lots of other useful content in ‘read more’ links.


SO Why learn how to SUP?

Paddleboarding, Standup paddle boarding (or SUP for short) is a fun, relaxing and rewarding way to play on water. Relatively gear free, you can get afloat, playing in rivers, on lakes or at coastal venues pretty easily. Stand up paddle boards offer fun, relaxation and a way to enjoy the outdoors. It can be as easy or as extreme as you choose – from easy recreation to bonkers scary whitewater. And the advent of good quality inflatable paddle boards (iSUP) means that you no longer need a huge garage to store your equipment.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvh65QFFt0o

 

Paddle boarding for exercise.

It’s well known that paddle boarding is great for both physical and mental health. Time near water and nature is proven to be good for your mental wellness. And paddleboarding also delivers a full body workout and has become a popular cross training activity for athletes and those with other sporting interests. In fact, that’s how modern SUP evolved: the great Laird Hamilton was looking for more fun ways to cross train when there was no surf or wind, and modern SUP was born. (You can read more about the history of SUP here).

Compared to other paddle sports, paddleboarding works the core muscles more rigorously because of the standing position. But having the benefit of elevated views and a wider periphery it sometimes doesn’t even feel like exercise – which must be a total win – win outcome.

To read more of the McConks SUP Noob article follow this link.


Sign me up! Where CAN I TRY?

Get a lesson or hire a board.

Many stand up paddle boarders come from a background of zero experience on the water. That’s fine, you don’t necessarily need any experience. With the correct gear and right skills, you can be up and riding in no time. But we often hear about people struggling to stand up, and that’s always because they don’t have the right gear, or the right skills. We strongly recommend all beginner paddle boarders take a lesson from a qualified instructor first. This will start you off on the right foot and fast track the learning process. Pretty much everyone who tries paddleboarding should be able to stand on their first attempt at SUP. And most people who can’t, have simply not had the right instruction, or are on the wrong board for them. Paddle boarding really isn’t super technical or hard to learn if you have a spot of teaching, and the right board for you. 

SUP is great for all the family, whether you’re actually paddling or not.

What licences or approvals do I need to paddleboard?

It isn’t compulsory to have a lesson – after all, not everyone can afford a lesson. This is merely a suggestion of best practice. There is no legal requirement to pass a test or demonstrate a certain standard of competence before you’re allowed to SUP. You can, theoretically, buy a paddle board having never been in the water before, launch it off a beach and get going. And many people do just that. But, just because you can, however, doesn’t mean you should.

There are many safety and access reasons why you would think twice before heading out on a river, a big lake, or the sea without a guide. The RNLI are reporting ever increasing numbers of inexperienced paddle boarders needing rescue, and there have now been seven paddle boarding fatalities in UK water in the last few years. Without sounding too much like the fun police we’d urge you to keep this in mind.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgguzRTj8MI

 

Having at least one lesson from an instructor, or paddling with a SUP club before you SUP by yourself is strongly recommended to keep yourself safe, and is a really affordable shortcut to being able to paddle.

Check out our recommended by McConks maps to find a qualified and trusted instructor close to you.

If you’re still looking for advice on where to get some coaching get in touch with us.


i’ve had a few lessons, and now want to get my own gear. where do i start?

 

Having the right sized and quality board for you, and the right paddle, is absolutely key to getting the best experience. If you only want to drift around in a sunny bay a couple of times a year, with the kids jumping off your board, then a budget board (£200 – £400) will be perfectly acceptable. If you just want a slow sedate paddle on your calm water environment, again a budget board will be perfect for you. If this is you, contact us and we can give you honest advice about which budget brands to avoid, and which are the best value.

However, if you want to keep up with your friends in a SUP group, if you want to explore coastal waters, if you want to do more than the absolute basics, then you need to spend a little more – not much more, but a bit more!

What paddle board do I need?

Having had a few lessons you’ll be well on your way to SUP nirvana. You may be thinking about getting your own stand up paddle boarding equipment. And with most riders, it starts with the board. Although that’s not necessarily the most important part of your set up (paddles, paddles, paddles, and more on that later).

 

The right paddle board for your SUP beginnings is super important.

So what board should you be looking at?

First time paddle board choice normally comes down to something between 10’ and 11’6. All round SUPs, with a rounder nose and widths coming in between 30”-32” (depending on your weight and skill) normally inflatable, will suit most getting started. Hard boards can be better for those with storage and transport. Some touring style models (hard or inflatable) will be better for those who know they want to paddle social paddles with a SUP group and have a big degree more longevity than all round 10’6’s.

An all round, inflatable 10’6 has been the industry standard for beginner and improvers for a while. It’s been a great marketing trick by the industry. Learn on a 10’6 board and then upgrade within the first year. They’re billed as offering balanced performance and allowing foundational skills to be learned with progression built in. They do indeed do what they say on the tin, and all round inflatable SUPs can be taken to most stretches of water and used in a variety of ways. All round iSUPs are usually a tad more cost effective than bigger/longer more performance orientated models, but can be limiting as you develop your skills and improve.

Don’t discount the idea of a touring SUP as your first paddle board. Some can make good choices.

Should I buy an all round SUP?

People often whether they should buy an allround paddleboard, and whether an all round 10’6 or 10’8 paddleboard gives them the future proof performance they need.

10’6’s will give good stability (if manufactured in high quality materials and designed well). When inflated correctly they’ll be a good platform for learning. The length has good enough glide to get paddlers going comfortably and they’ll provide plenty of fun.

SUPers will be able to learn all they need to know aboard a 10’6. And many have plenty of additional versatility making them applicable to more than just learning. Some 10’6 all round iSUPs can be surfed pretty well. And for those who fancy some adventure paddleboarding, almost all will have bungee straps to hold kit for short adventures.

But if you’re looking to paddle as part of a group, you might find the speed and efficiency of an all round board limiting. So a slightly longer board such as our Go Explore 11’4i might be better for most beginners most of the time – all of the benefit of a stable board for beginner, but also a much more futureproof platform. In fact, most of our customers are people who have bought all round 10’6 or 10’8 paddleboards (across a range of price points) and have decided they need to upgrade to a longer touring board.

 

 

McConks 10'8 Go Anywhere inflatable SUP
McConks 10’8 Go Anywhere inflatable SUP – also another good choice of first time iSUP.

Note: whilst we talk about 10’6 being the industry standard all round iSUP size there are some variations to be found on this concept. Some boards, for instance, come in slightly shorter or longer lengths to cater for differing weights and builds.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFAafuiLZiU

Understanding more about SUP board design.

Different stand up paddle boards are designed to do different things. Some boards are longer, others are shorter. Some are wider whilst others are on the narrow side. Whatever your requirements there’s a perfect stand up paddle board out there for you. But how do you go about determining what does what?

Here are a few things to be aware of when looking at boards and how these shape characteristics impact on water performance – 

SUP board length – this will determine how much glide and yaw manoeuvrability a board has. The longer the board the more glide and momentum it can generate. With a shorter style of board the yaw increases. Yaw refers to the amount of oscillation something has when measured from its vertical axis. In real feel terms, your board’s nose will swing left and right more often with shorter lengths requiring more corrective paddle strokes to keep it straight and tracking.

SUP board width – reducing the amount of width a board has increases its reactivity when thinking in terms of manoeuvrability. It can also reduce the amount of board in contact with the water thereby helping it travel more efficiently through the liquid. Narrower width can be found on performance surf SUPs and race boards. The downside is less width equals less stability – especially when stationary. 

This pic shows how board width can help in white water SUP environments.

SUP board volume – volume is the amount of floatation a board has. Higher volume designs give more float and when paired with more width can make boards easier to balance on. By reducing the SUP’s volume you increase the performance by it becoming more reactive. Volume is often used as an indicator of how easy a stand up paddle board is to pilot. Yet it should be noted that volume alone is only a guide. Distribution of SUP board volume, in tandem with width and length, plus hull contours like rocker, can drastically affect how a board feels and performs.

SUP board rocker – rocker is the amount of curve (nose to tail) a stand up paddle board has. Flatter, straighter rocker lines will mean a board is generally faster and not quite as good for turning. SUP surfboards and white water paddle boards often have more rocker as they’re made to turn and carve. To find out more about SUP rocker check out this article on the McConks website.

iSUP materials, manufacturing and why this matters.

Inflatable stand up paddle board manufacturing and materials can vary quite a bit. This will also influence price. Sometimes it’s hard to determine exactly what it is you’re getting by paying a higher price tag for a more premium board. And what does premium mean anyway?

McConks inflatable SUPs: premium manufacturing.

In a nutshell, a premium inflatable iSUP – like the type you get from McConks – will have been created from the best materials and done so with the latest manufacturing techniques. This results in an inflatable that delivers the best performance possible. And with the best performance comes the best experience. Quality premium SUP boards will be rigid (which helps with stability) have plenty of longevity, be robust with all the additions (such as D-rings, deckpad and handles) also complimenting the overall quality of the board. Whilst not the board per se, the iSUP bag and pump will also be good quality – after all these ‘bits’ are what makes inflatables attractive.

An example of a cheaper iSUP with its Drostitch material blown.

Cheaper manufactured inflatables.

There is absolutely a place in the market for cheaper, lower quality paddleboards. And we appreciate price can be a big factor in why you choose a certain brand – we know that our boards are out of the price range for some people. But it is true that cheaper boards don’t quite deliver on the ‘promise’ of what SUP is compared to something delivered with more thought. If your sole ambition is to paddle on your local lake, or in your local bay, in warm sunny, flat conditions, then budget boards will absolutely be fine for you. But we know from feedback that as soon as a rider sets foot on a more quality iSUP (such as a McConks) overall paddling experiences are elevated (literally!). And with that comes more fun, satisfaction and fulfilment. And a greater ability to tackle more adventures.

A McConks inflatable paddle board delivers on that SUP promise of watery fun.

We get you might not be in a position to fork out for a new inflatable SUP from a brand like McConks. Although we try and make things as easy as possible by offering ‘spread the cost’ payment methods from the likes of Klarna and PayPal in three. Also, consider the fact that if you buy a cheap inflatable board and it fails quickly, but just outside of their one year warranty (which some do) you then have to stump up for something new. That isn’t cost effective and is awful for the environment.

 

Hard vs inflatable paddle boards.

We’ve mostly only talked about inflatable stand up paddle boards but there is another option. Hard SUPs are still a good choice for many. Inflatables definitely fit the bill better if you need something easier for storage and transport. A hard shell SUP needs extra logistical thinking. But in terms of performance, they’re a step up from iSUPs. (Check out the McConks Freedom hard board in the video below).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DJR_1MCd-4

Hard SUP fragility.

One negative aspect of owning a hard SUP is how fragile they can be. You can chuck an inflatable about without too much issue. Hard SUPs meanwhile will ding easily if you’re not looking after them. And that can be a headache for many.

We love hard shell paddle boards at McConks. But they do ding easily.

The debate surrounding hard SUPs versus inflatable will surely continue. This article talks about the subject more in depth.

The touring SUP option.

Touring SUP is the generic term given to stand up paddle boards that run from around 11’ to 14’in length. Their appearance is one of an arrow like ‘machine’.The board’s nose is more drawn out and elongated with a slightly tapered tail that squares off. Usually sporting one fin these boards were original conceived for adventure paddling and covering distance. Loaded up with belongings riders could then indulge in short sojourns or multi day excursions.

The irony of labelling a 10’6 as all round is odd considering the touring SUP is arguably more all round. This example of stand up paddling nomenclature has evolved around meanings and phrases not necessarily reflective of what’s happening on the water in terms of performance. No less, with all round performance in mind, a touring paddle board could potentially be your first board purchase as many (especially the wider ones) are perfectly fine for learning and advancing. 

Stand up paddle boarding and the five Ps to improve.
The right touring SUP may prove to be your best beginner SUP board choice.

Additional benefits of enhanced glide and speed will only serve to deliver a heightened experience of paddle boarding. Plus, as riders move into more experience paddler territory a touring SUP will deliver even more fulfillment and fun.

Hybrid SUP/race board choices.

Not to confuse but there are also some hybrid race/touring boards on the market which would also be fine for learning and advancing your SUP skills. The added bonus of these boards will be their speed. You may have to put slightly more work in to get to grips with a board like this but it could be worth it.

Just avoid the narrowest shapes and you should be fine. Once you’ve dialled your paddle strokes the board’s performance will start to be unlocked. The video below shows just what you can achieve with a touring SUP and some experience.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFAafuiLZiU

Picking the right paddle boarding accessories.

 

Paddle boards can be packaged up with a whole host of accessories. As standard, with most iSUP bundles, you’ll get the board, a paddle (usually two or three piece), fin(s), pump, leash, bag and possibly waterproof phone pouch. There may be a few other bits included depending on the brand in question.

There’s always room to upgrade things like paddle boarding accessories. You may want to consider this. For instance: fins can be swapped out for something more applicable. If you’re paddling on a river, for instance, a malleable gummy fin set may be a good choice. (We talk more about fins below).

SUP paddles and their importance.

So far, from an equipment perspective, we’ve focused on stand up paddle board. But we did allude to paddles in one of the paragraphs above. It’s the paddle that defines what SUP is – a point often missed by those getting into the sport. 

Back at paddle boarding’s inception (2005 ish) package paddles were pretty awful things. As inflatable technologies improved and iSUP brands sprang up these cheap, bendy, flimsy paddles were bundled as part of the deal. These did no favours for anyone. Over time this issue has been addressed by many brands. Although some still haven’t caught up. Nowadays the included paddle with your inflatable paddle board board package is usually of good quality. This is definitely the case with McConks. That all said, however, an even better quality paddle is always a worthy investment.

Your SUP paddle is the main connection between rider, water and board. Without it, you’d just be a standing boarder going nowhere. Paddles can make or break your sessions – even at a recreational level. An unfit paddle can result in injury, placing unnecessary wear and tear on muscles, joint and limbs. Paddles also affect efficiency. With a more efficient paddle stroke, you can enjoy the experience more than if having to grunt and fight it. In time, this make takes its toll and affects your enjoyment levels. So the best advice is to choose your SUP paddle carefully. If it’s a case of spending a bit extra on a board or SUP paddle we’d recommend the latter.

Poor quality SUP paddles won’t give you any joy in terms of propelling your board forwards. The energy to power transfer that serves to sap all the fun out of paddle boarding. Worst case scenario is a bad paddle can result in injury whilst for others it leads to not wanting to SUP. This article delves deeper into the topic of paddles and paddling and is well worth a read.

iSUP paddle #7
Whatever SUP paddle you go for it should be as top drawer as you can afford.

Do I go for a fixed one piece, two piece or three piece SUP paddle?

Continuing the theme of SUP paddles one big question is whether to choose a fixed shaft type, a two adjustable paddle or three piece. Your decision will be based on a few factors. Something like these (there may be more) – 

  • Are you after 100% efficiency?
  • Do you ride a variety of boards with different volumes/thicknesses?
  • Do other family members use the paddle?
  • Is storage and transport an issue?
  • Do you travel with your SUP gear often?

For 100% paddling efficiency a fixed shaft SUP paddle is the best choice. With no moving parts your power to stroke transfer will be at its optimum. Many riders, however, prefer a two piece adjustable. This could be because they’re not sure of how long their paddle should be so will tweak it over time. Using different paddle boards, that give different rider elevations, can also be a factor. As can the situation of having different SUPers use the same paddle. With different heights in the mix, an adjustable paddle is often the best bet. 

McConks SUP paddleboard paddles
Choose your best fit McConks SUP paddle.

Three piece SUP paddles have gained in popularity in recent years. Being able to break down and easily store in an iSUP back they’re often the choice of recreational paddlers. One downside to a three piece paddle is it having more joins that can get stuck if sand, salt or dirt becomes lodged. There’s also a bit more maintenance required to keep the clamps in good working order.

How long should my SUP paddle be?

The optimum SUP paddle length is important. Too long and you can cause paddling relating injuries such as rotator cuff damage. This has been a long standing problem for paddlers which you can find out more about here.

The general rule of thumb when setting your SUP paddle shaft length is (standing on hard, flat ground) your wrist should be able to rest on the handle with your hand overhanging. When on the water, as you punch forwards to dig into your first stroke, your knuckles will then be (more or less) level with the bridge of your nose. Paddling around for a little while it’s worth experimenting with slightly different shaft lengths to determine just what your optimum is. As we said longer isn’t the but going shorter could be.

Your preferred style of SUP can affect the length of your SUP paddle.

If you have a two or three piece adjustable SUP paddle then getting the correct SUP paddle length is arguably easier than with a fixed shaft paddle. For fixed paddles, riders will need to err on teh side of conservancy when choosing what length to go. Incrementally taking sections off to finally obtain optimum length is then best practise. (This isn’t as daunting as it’d first seem. But it does require a little more effort).

This article talks more about fixed or adjustable paddles. And this McConks article shows how to adjust a fixed shaft SUP paddle.

SUP paddle design.

As with paddle boards, SUP paddles have various design elements that make them more targeted, depending on the type, for specific uses. If you want to paddle fast, at high cadence, or dig deep with powerful strokes at slower there’s a paddle out there for you. Some are more applicable to white water riding while others can be better suited to surfing. Your SUP paddle is the defining piece of equipment with your set up. So getting hold of (literally) a well manufactured and fit for purpose paddle is important.

Whether you choose a fixed shaft type, two piece or three piece adjustable is down to your personal circumstances.

iSUP paddle #9
SUP paddle designs are quite varied.

McConks has a whole selection of different SUP paddles you can choose from here. If you’re struggling to know which one is best suited to you and the paddling you regularly practise then get in touch with us to discuss.

SUP paddle terminology – 

Shaft – the long upright part you hold with one hand.

Handle – the top part of the paddle that connects to the paddle shaft.

Extension – the telescopic part of an adjustable type.

Blade – the bit that submerged and provides forward thrust.

Face – the part of the paddle blade that faces you and catches the water through each stroke.

Dihedral – a spine like design trait that runs through the blade and helps stop ‘flutter (also known as ‘paddle waggle’).

This article goes more in depth with the subject of paddles and paddling so is worth a read.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m27DH_Z_xrk

The pump you end up with could be upgraded. Swapping the single chambered high pressure pump out for a dual chamber type.will see the manual process of inflation easier. Even more so is stumping up for an electric pump – which many do. These can make the paddle boarding set up even easier. Some brands offer other accessories, such as action camera mounts. This all depends on our wants and needs.

A word on inflatable SUP bags.

If buying an inflatable SUP you’re probably thinking about the ease of transport as one of the important factors. That means when your board’s deflated it needs to be moved about in transit. Therefore the iSUP’s bag is important. 

We see a lot of cheaper inflatable paddle boards that don’t come with particularly robust well thought out bags. Straps can be flimsy, the material not robust enough and possibly the most frustrating element of paddle board bags: too tight a fit! There’s nothing worse than having to roll your iSUP absolutely 100% correctly to fit it in the bag. And then find there’s no real room for all the other items, such as a paddle. Yes, your inflatable should be rolled properly (although it doesn’t need to be furled like a coiled spring!) but it shouldn’t have to be an exercise in origami! And your bag should last as well. Not fall apart within a few weeks…

The quality of the actual SUP board you’re interested in should always be a top priority. And the same with your paddle. These extra bits are often just fluff designed to add received value. 

First paddle boarding steps.

Setting up your inflatable paddle board.

If you’ve gone down the inflatable paddle board route then there are a few quick tips we’d urge you to consider during set up. This’ll make your life easier and not have lessons learned the hard way. One point, in particular, is the inflation process… 

Far too often we see frustrated and red faced paddler removing their pump only to have all that air whooshing back out! This is usually because of how the valve pin is located during the inflation process. Make sure when inflating to have the valve pin up. If it’s down you’ll lose all that air and have to begin again. This video shows how to pump up your SUP.

Pump it up! Just make sure the pin’s in the correct position!

When slotting your SUP fin into place another faux pas can be fitting it the wrong way round. A fin should angle back towards the tail. If the ‘rake’ faces towards the nose then it’s backwards. You can read about more SUP first timer pitfalls and how to avoid them here and here.

Inflatable SUP manufacturing has improved a lot in the last few years. But hard paddle boards still pip the air board past the post. iSUPs, due to their nature of being inflatable, bend slightly (known as deflection). Hard SUP in contrast don’t. Therefore there’s more efficiency with a hard shell board. And if you’re thinking of heading down the SUP surf or race route (in time) a hard board will perform slightly better here too. But it’s getting ever closer…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2w3vfGH6lG4

Key SUP paddle strokes.

Being able to submerse the paddle’s blade and propel yourself forwards is the first thing. You’ll also need to know how to stop and turn. This can be crudely done during those first forays. As you improve, you’ll need to work on specific paddle strokes.

Forward stroke: the paddle’s blade is submersed fully as the rider reaches forwards. Drawing the blade through the water it’s then recovered at the point it reaches your hips. You’re then ready to repeat the process.

Reverse stroke: placing the paddle blade in the water level with hips you then push the blade back to the water. There’s no need to turn the paddle’s blade around. This can be used to stop your board as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdyOTg86qjo

Sweep stroke: reaching towards the nose riders then extend their paddle away from the board’s nose and employ a wide, arcing stroke that draws all the way to the board’s tail. This is a useful stroke to turn your board in a tight circle.

Draw stroke: extending your paddle away from your body on the same axis line you’re standing the blade submerses once you’ve achieved the reach extent. Pulling the paddle back to you the board moves sideways. This can be a good one when coming in to land at a pontoon or jetty.

Cross bow stroke: you can turn your paddle board without having to change stance using a cross bow stroke. Reaching to the nose on the opposite side to which your paddling the rider then sweeps an arc over the board’s nose and continues to the back of the board on the original side.

You can see some visuals of the above strokes in this article.

Note: one big point to keep in mind when thinking about paddling and paddle strokes is to make sure the blade is submerged. If the blade doesn’t bury fully then you’ll be using minimal paddle whilst putting lots of bodily effort into your stroke. This is inefficient and could cause frustration. Head over to this post which talks about the matter a little more in depth.

Other core paddle boarding skills to learn.

Whilst paddle strokes are essential there are a bunch of other paddle boarding skills to get the hang of. This will make your overall experience more rounded and help you deal with a much broader array of conditions. Plus, it’ll help keep you safer on the water and give you a ‘bigger tool bag’ to deal with more types of paddle boarding situations.

One key move to learn is the step back pivot turn. This is where the rider moves towards the tail of their board, sinks it slightly and uses the reduced wetted area of the board, in conjunction with a wider sweep stroke, to spin and turn quickly. The pivot turn can be used for all manner of reasons, not least getting out of harm’s way more efficiently.

Stance, and being proactive with your footwork is another area of focus. Being able to move about your board’s deck confidently will help massively. If you feel like you’re glued into one fixed position paddling rougher water (if this is what you’re after) will be hampered.

You can read more about the SUP pivot turn here. And for stance related info check out this post.

How you stand on your paddle board is important.

Common paddle boarding mistakes, and avoiding them.

In the last few years – especially when COVID hit – stand up paddle boarding exploded in popularity. You can understand why when considering how accessible the sport is. With stay at home orders, and travel limited, but people still wanting a recreational activity to pursue, paddle borarding became the go to sport. Everywhere you looked paddle boards were being transported and ridden. Brands (like McConks) struggled to keep up with demand. Seemingly all comers wanted a slice of the SUP pie and nothing was going to stop them.

With so many new recruits coming into paddle boarding it’s understandable those visible faux pars were exacerbated. Seeing it ourselves plenty of mistakes were (and still are to some degree) made. Fins on back to front; fins down during inflation resulting in a whoosh of released air when the pump pipe was removed; wetsuits on backwards and so on. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5jkJlAdMpA

In an effort to address some of these mistakes, we published this article which highlights some of the typical ones. We also published this, which whilst on paper it’s a SUP surfing orientated article many of the blunders ring true for flat water recreational paddle boarding as well.

Staying SUP safe.

Wear the right type of paddle boarding leash.

One big topic within SUP safety discussions are leashes. More specifically wearing the correct one and a quick release belt in tandem, The wrong leash has been responsible for a number SUP related incidents in the last few years. Most commonly known is the tragic accident which saw Simon Flynn lose his life after becoming entangled in tidal waters. You can find out more about the incident here.

Paddle boarding safety we’ve already mentioned. But we can’t stress how important this is. All stretches of water hold hazards – many of which are invisible to the untrained eye. Learning and understanding what these look like is essential. More than that is mitigating risk BEFORE you go afloat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow7LNlfM07w

Following the above Simon’s friend Sam Foyle has worked tirelessly to promote and highlight the need for paddlers to wear coiled leashes attached to a quick release safety belt. Garnering support from the SUP Industry many brands (including McConks) supply quick release belts as standard. Taking things further in July 2022 there was a concerted push to unify the voice of SUP safety within the UK. This resulted in the P.L.O.T your paddle strategy which you can learn about here. The bottom line with paddle boarding these days is to wear the right leash and combine with a quick release belt. For 95% of paddle boarding, this is the best choice. The only time a straight surf leash should be worn is when SUP Surfing in waves. And even then there’s an argument to suggest wearing a QR belt.

What else do I need to know to be SUP safe?

SUP safety isn’t just confined to leashes and QR belts though. To be truly SUP safe there’s a wider knowledge base all paddlers need to develop. Everything from being able to interpret weather forecasts for your chosen paddling spot, understanding how tides work, being able to spot moving river water hazards and so more is essential.

The McConks beginner paddle boarder FAQ page lists a few additional SUP safety points. You can view that here. For further reading, this article is a good one as it has even more links to expand your understanding of conditions and how to remain SUP safe. 

 

What’s next on my paddle boarding journey?

Once you’ve acquired those foundational on water paddle boarding skills it’s time to consolidate and put them into practise. You’ll most likely have purchased your first stand up paddle boarding set up. Or are thinking about doing so. For those in the latter category hiring each time you go afloat is certainly plausible. At the very least this’ll give you a chance to demo different models and have a more informed view of what makes up a good quality SUP board.

If you’re looking to choose your first stand up paddle board McConks tries to make this as easy as possible. This article has a few different points to consider as well as our SUP board selection tool. You can enter various criteria with the end result being a perfect McConks board match based on what you’ve input.

What to wear for paddle boarding.

Paddle board clothing and what you wear when paddling is a consideration. The UK’s weather is ever changing, as we all know. Even during summer colder spells can snap which makes what clobber you choose important. 

Flat water paddling, which most recreation riders indulge in, doesn’t really require wetsuits (for high season at least). You may have started your SUP journey waring but as you improve, and fall less, you can get away with layered, thinner garments specifically designed for paddling. Winter riders will want something more – especially those who ride on cold water rivers. Drysuits are favoured by many. Just make sure you choose a drysuit from a tried and tested brand. Coast paddle boarders may revert back to wetsuits, especially those who surf or ride bumps. We published an article about SUP clothing which you can find here to learn more.

Here are a few scenarios related to SUP clothing choices – 

When SUP surfing – a wetsuit will do the job. Seasonality will dictate how thick your wetsuit needs to be.

When white water river running – usually a drysuit is the order of the day here. Especially as rivers tend to be in most flow during winter. 

When recreational lake paddling in summer – thinner neoprene leggings and a layer wicking top and thin fleece combo will work best on warmer days. You can remove your fleece or replace as necessary.

When autumn adventure paddling – you may need to wear a drysuit if the weather’s on the changeable side. Or layer up with thin wicking tops, fleeces and thermal leggings. Carrying spares in a waterproof drybag is best.

When high season canal paddling – if it’s particularly hot you may get away with the boardshorts and a rash vest. Especially if the water’s totally flat. Just be aware the UK weather can change quickly so be prepared.

SUP foiling’s reconnection with prone surfing.
A wetsuit is often worn for SUP surfing but isn’t always the most practical for recreational paddle boarding.

Do I need additional flotation?

Your stand up paddle board is your main source of floatation. Connected by your leash it serves as your platform and vehicle. But if you have to use your quick release belt, the board may become disconnected and float away from you. This is one of these instances when additional flotation will help. There are other scenarios as well that make flotation devices worthwhile.

A buoyancy aid (PFD) may be your best choice for additional flotation. Just make sure it’s rated according to the type of paddling you’re going to be doing. You can find some buoyancy rating info here. Also, be sure to use a PFD manufactured by a reputable brand. Palm Equipment, Nookie and NRS are all good choices.

Personal floatation is a good idea – especially when paddling on moving river water.

Another choice for personal flotation is the self inflating tube that stores in a waist bag until needed. At that point the wearer pulls a chord and CO2 canisters inflate a tube. McConks sells Restube types which you can find here.

Improving your stand up paddle boarding.

Having taken those first steps within SUP the next goal is to improve your overall riding. You think more specialist equipment is required. But actually, this isn’t the case. Your standard 10’6 is perfectly fit for purpose. What is a good idea, however, is to understand how different board shapes, paddles and set up affect what happens on the water. In time, you may wish to swap your gear for something else. Armed with the knowledge of what does what you’ll be able to make a more informed choice. Don’t forget as well it’s possible to change the performance of your 10’6 with a few fin tweaks. This article discusses how to achieve that.

You may get to this point with your paddle boarding with improvement.

On from that, and keeping the above in mind, one design trait that different SUP shapes employ is rocker. Different rocker lines can affect your paddling experience quite a bit. We published an article discussing SUP board rocker which you can find here. Having learned about stand up paddle boarding kit the next goal is to affect change through your surrounding and paddling environment.

Paddle boarding and location.

Changing where you paddle board.

Those paddlers who’ve mainly stuck to inland, placid water locations could expand their knowledge base by switching up locations. Having a bash at a few tidal, coastal locations is a good strategy as tidal, coastal locations don’t have to mean exposed and hazardous. You can still find sheltered spots.

There’s no accounting for the awesome experiences you’ll have by discovering new spots. With a SUP board underfoot and paddle in hand, you’re primed to learn so much more about the outdoors. A stand up paddle board really a great vehicle for investigating and discovering new locations. 

Changing where you paddle board can be refreshing.

If you’re looking for paddle boarding venue inspiration you may want to check out McConks’ SUP locations mini guide which you can find here.

Do I need a license to SUP inland UK waterways?

Some access to UK inland waterways are restricted. You can’t paddle board there at all. In other locations, you can launch a SUP but have to pay a fee or obtain a license to do so.

There’s been a lot of debate about access rights over the years and much work has been done to open up routes, giving more choice of places to put in. In certain areas, it’s still a grey area though. This article shed a little more light on UK canal and river access.

Group SUP on giant SUP boards
Paddle boarding with inspire2adventure on the River Wye.

Paddle boarding at coastal venues.

If you’re looking at paddling on the sea for the first time we’d recommend having a look at this post as it talks about all you need to know for coastal SUPing. Keeping SUP safety in mind at all times fledgling sea paddlers will come away with plenty of new experiences that can be banked and adapted to various locations. You’ll become a more rounded paddle boarder and therefore enjoy more fulfilment.

Another post worth a look for anyone who’s considering sea paddling for the first time is this. Oftentimes coastal locations – even sheltered spots – have some form of shore break (waves breaking right onto the beach). Knowing how to launch and land safely through shore break is an essential coastal paddler skill.

Being a coastal SUP paddler.
Some coastal SUP spots can be magical at certain times.

What about access to coastal water?

Just as with inland waterways, some coastal venues have restricted access – particularly around harbours, estuaries and inlets. Anything such as a private sailing club, marina or residential area will also not allow launching. You can paddle on the water adjacent if you’ve launched from a public slipway or beach, you just won’t be able to put in or take out on private land. 

Sometimes fees are applicable when paddle boarding in the above locations. If you’re a sailing club member, based in a harbour, harbour dues may be necessary which will be in addition to your club membership fees.

As with inland waterways, some coastal venues have restricted access so worth checking.

Most open beaches are free to access – unless otherwise stated. You’ll just have to pay to park. Parking charges are strictly enforced in all locations so our advice is don’t try and get around it otherwise you’ll face a fine.

SUP and overseas travel.

For some, the idea of learning in UK waters is off putting. The perception of it being cold may halt the process. And whilst we acknowledge that the UK is a cold water location we’ll also that high season and autumn can be plenty warm enough with the right clothing to learn.

This might not be enough for some though, we get that. In which case heading overseas is an option. There are plenty of locations abroad that are great for learning and progressing within paddle boarding. You just have to choose where. 

Winter SUP travel
Overseas travel can be awesome for a spot of SUP.

The following overseas SUP spots as follows (there are many more) are good choices for SUP – 

Travelling with paddle boarding gear.

Travelling with paddle boarding gear can be a headache or stress, depending on how you do it. Domestically, getting gone with your kit is arguably easier than flying overseas. But that still depends on your circumstances. If you have a young family, for instance, then space will still be at a premium. Hence why an inflatable can be a good choice. If you’re a hard board rider chances are you’ll have a vehicle fit for transporting this equipment more efficiently, like a van.

Heading for foreign climes can be a little trickier, although again, iSUPs can make the process less stressful. Gone are the days when airlines would let you book multiple pieces of baggage. These days you’ll have to pay a fee. Although some airlines are more cost effective than others. Pre-booking is always a good idea. Just make sure you have the paperwork ready to show the check in desk staff. Once at your destination, you have the additional headache of getting your gear to the final destination. Hiring a vehicle with a roof rack can be a good idea, if more costly. In all instances make sure your kit’s insured in the event it gets lost en route!

Travelling overseas with SUP gear can be a mission. But sometimes worth it.

This article talks about heading overseas with your SUP gear.

Paddle boarding on rivers.

As with coastal paddling river SUP has its own set of criteria to be mindful of. Flowing water isn’t always obvious to the uninformed. But putting in at some river spots, without having the ability to spot different flow speeds, isn’t great.

We recommend going with a qualified guide if you’re planning on tackling a new river location. This way you’ll end up informed about the spot for follow on sessions. Alternatively, stick to put ins and routes that aren’t as taxing. You can find out much by researching prior to your paddle boarding date.

McConks SUP in a river
Here at McConks we love a spot of river paddling.

Paddle boarding and the elements.

Paddle boarding and wind.

We often get asked why having an understanding of all weather conditions is essential for SUP. In particular, wind. After all, paddle boarding isn’t a wind sport, is it? Whilst it isn’t per se there’s no question there’s synergy between paddle boarding and windy activities. Experienced stand up paddlers have used wind to their benefit since inception. With the right knowledge that breezy days at the beach – perhaps previously cancelling play – are now poised to be fun in their own right.

Heading out with an offshore (wind blowing straight off the beach) breeze is particularly unsafe. You’re very likely to get huffed far away from where you started if in an open water location. With a more cross shore wind direction, however, there’s an opportunity to indulge in a spot of downwind paddling. Get your logistics sorted and you’re good to go. If you’re unfamiliar with downwind SUP this write up should shed some light. DW paddle boarding doesn’t need to be extreme, it can be done in much less gusty conditions than some would have you believe. It is, however, a good way to gain further understanding about SUP’s versatility and the environment you ride. Keep safety in mind and we’re sure you’ll have plenty of fun.

SUPing when it's gets even a little windy
Being mindful of the wind is an essential SUP safety point.

SUP and (general) weather.

We’ve touched on SUP and weather already within this article but there’s more to it than just understanding how wind can affect your stand up paddle boarding. The UK’s weather situation is one of unpredictability – that much is clear. On any given day you’re likely to encounter different weather situations even within a small area. A sunny, calm bright day can often quickly change to something more unsettled. And if you’re not aware of this your paddle boarding sessions will suffer. Also, as with all elements of paddle boarding there’s safety issues with no understanding of weather and its effects on paddling.

Having a basic weather forecast for the day ahead is the first thing. Without this, you’re literally flying blind. You should note what the wind is likely to be doing, the air temperature, whether there’s anything like rain in the mix and anything else that’s likely to impact your paddling. One scenario is getting a drenching and then having the breeze pick up. If you haven’t dressed appropriately you’ll end up chilly. This’ll then be compounded by evaporative cooling which will chill your further. With SUP safety in mind that’ll potentially lead to hypothermia and a life threatening situation.

The weather plays such a part with UK SUP. So best to understand all there is to know about the topic.

Interpreting the weather for your paddle boarding session.

Talking about the weather, from a paddle boarding point of view, has been something we’ve done a lot on the McConks site. We’ve regularly altered riders to good periods which are great for fair weather paddle boarding. Combined with knowledge posts for further understanding you can hopefully see how important the topic is for paddlers.

This post was published and gathers together a whole bunch of weather related content from the McConks blog.

Where do I get accurate paddle boarding weather info from?

Everybody has their favourite forecast space. Some predictions are more in depth than others. You may not want surf and wave predictions whilst other riders need this info to ascertain when it’s good to go. Our advice is to obtain as much weather info as possible. That way you can cross reference what each data feed is telling and make a sound plan for your paddling day ahead.

Weather charts like this are good to be able to interpret.

It’s worth keeping in mind that forecasting websites pull their info from a variety of weather forecasting models. This is why sometimes not all predictions will read the same. You’ll get anomalies according to which model is being used. You can see the different forecast models via this website.

Here’s a list of other reputable forecast resources that are worth checking prior to paddle boarding session (there are many others) – 

Paddle boarding and water states (tide & flow).

As well as weather info any paddler going afloat should be aware of what’s going on in terms of water state. If you’re riding at a tidal venue knowing the tide times is key. In fact, this is the bare minimum of what your knowledge should be. More than this knowing how tides are likely to interact with you whilst paddle boarding is better. This video shows how tides work – 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPhhYhN0FAc

For those paddle boarders on inland stretches of water, such as rivers, being able to spot and interpret water flow is essential. This is yet another SUP safety aspect. Water flow speed can vary, which can impact how you travel along your route. A lack of understanding can lead to all sorts of complications and potentially hazardous situations. To check live river flow data head over to this site where you’ll find comprehensive data.

How to look after your paddle board and equipment.

Maintenance and SUP kit care tips.

As you progress and paddle more often your stand up paddle boarding equipment will take on more wear and tear. Any seasoned rider with their salt with have some idea of how to maintain and keep their gear looking and working in tip top form. 

Breakages and damage do sometimes happen. Knowing how to fix and sort is a big benefit. Not least being more cost effective. If you end up with a puncture in your iSUP, for instance, this article shows how to fix it. And it’s the same with all your kit, not just boards. The better you look after all your equipment the better it’ll look after you. At the very least having this know how is one way to keep paddling in the event of malfunctions whilst afloat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EraUe86GNk

A few McConks videos and posts you may find useful with maintenance and equipment care in mind can be found as follows – 

How to check if your iSUP pump gauge is working.

How to repair an iSUP puncture.

Hard shell paddle board care.

If you choose a hard shell stand up paddle board over an inflatable you’ll need to employ a certain way of thinking as they do ding much more easily than air boards. Being mindful of how you carry and transport then is a good idea. A board bag will almost certainly be needed.

responsible and safe stand up paddle boarding #2

When putting your board down on the floor you’ll need to do so gently. And no jumping on and off the board whilst on land – kids love to do this! You’ll end up with pressure dings, perhaps a hole(s) and if on its hull the fins will snap in their box.

If you do end up with a ding in your hard paddle board you can do a quick repair whilst still at the beach. Ding Stick can be a good option for this. You’ll then need to sort the issue properly once at home. This can be done yourself or passed to a professional board repair expert. 

The following video shows how to fix a ding – 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QG6n799lhZE

SUP Services – a McConks stand up paddle boarding partner.

Here at McConks, for any inflatable stand up paddle board requiring a complete overhaul or more in depth TLC we recommended and work with SUP Services. They also provide other options to keep your board looking tip top.

It should also be noted that any iSUP appearing to have catastrophic failure should be given to the SUP Services guys. That way we can keep boards out of landfill unnecessarily and do a little to help the planet.

You can find out more about SUP Services here.

Other paddle board component parts to consider.

SUP fins.

As with paddles and board SUP fins come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. The most common type is the dolphin fin which balances manoeuvrability with directional stability. These are often provided with paddle boards and sit centrally on the board’s hull. They can be complemented with two smaller side fins or stand alone.

stand up paddle board fins
Another essential SUP knowledge topic is fins.

Race SUPs often have more upright fins designed with straight line speed in mind. Sometimes these can be angled if the creator had weed shedding in mind. Surf and white water SUP fins can come in sets of threes (thrusters) or fours (quads). Very much with carving and turning on the cards, this configuration helps manoeuvrability. 

Changing your paddle board fins will deliver different feels and performance. It’s a way you can tune your stand up paddle board for the conditions or your mood or style. This does take a little bit of time whilst you experiment. Having a play is a worthwhile exercise though as it’ll broaden your SUP knowledge no end.

This article was published a while back but does hold some key titbits of info regarding SUP fins so is worth a read. If you still have questions about fins then get in touch. You can also find this fin related video that’ll signpost how to fit a central fin on McConks’ YouTube channel.

The sit down kayak (SUP yak) option.

Inflatable stand up paddle boards are seen as a package. Unlike hard shell SUPs you don’t just purchase the board alone. Buyers part with money for the whole caboodle: inflatable board, paddle (usually three piece), leash, fin(s), bag and accessories search as waterproof mobile phone pouch. There’s also been a trend in recent years to include a sit on top kayaking backrest. This then enables riders to sit on their paddle and paddle like you would a kayak. 

Black Friday SUP 2021
For added versatility, you can fit a kayak to some McConks paddle boards.

In all honesty, McConks has never been a huge fan of this as the geometry of a paddle board, with its flat deck, isn’t the best for sit down kayak paddling. But we do acknowledge a good many riders want the additional versatility. Perhaps so other family members who mightn’t be able to stand can enjoy the board as much as their upright brethren.

A kayak seat attached to the D-rings attached to inflatable paddle boards via webbing straps. By tightening these webbing straps the seat/back rest becomes rigid and provides some support for sit down riders. In the McConks SUP user guide we published a post that details how to fit and use a kayak seat to your McConks SUP. You can read that here.

SUP with your pup.

Paddle boarding with your canine friend has become extremely popular in recent times. It can be one of the main motivating factors for learning to paddle board with some. But as with all types of stand up paddling there’s a period of learning to be completed before plonking your four legged friend on board. If not, you may risk causing unnecessary anxiety in your pet.

Here at McConks, we love a bit of pup SUP with our dog. But we appreciate not every dog will enjoy the experience. If this is the case we’d urge you not to force the issue. This article discusses paddling with your dog more in depth and is worth a read if you’re considering some SUP with your pup action. Also, feel free to contact us at McConks HQ to chat through our experiences.

Be mindful of your paddling environment.

#LEAVENOTRACE.

Every time you go afloat, wherever this may be, you’re entering the habitat of wildlife and animals that live in these places. As guests, we should be mindful of this and paddle board in a responsible and environmentally conscious way.

Keeping clear of wildlife and giving space is important. Not destroying natural habitats (you can do this unwittingly by clambering up and down river banks) and leaving no trace is the best course of action. It should go without saying that any rubbish and debris you bring should be taken home with you. We should all be aiming to keep our paddle boarding locations (and the planet in general) as pristine as we found it.

Leave no trace when stand up paddle boarding.

SUP and invasive species – what can I do?

Non-native invasive species – both plant and animal – have become a problem across our waterways in recent times. There are various reasons this is happening. One such situation is stand up paddle boarders and kayakers who often transfer this wildlife via their craft. In most cases unwittingly. As paddlers, we tend to visit a variety of different spots and if we don’t take care we end up contributing to the problem.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNOTKz9T6Ms

Many invasive non-native species (INNS) are harmless. There are some, however, that cause problems for plants and animals already in their natural habitat. Natives may be killed off entirely or introduce disease which can be harmful to species already there. Our paddle boards can be the perfect carrier for INNS. And without due care and attention, we go from one paddling spot to the next thereby carrying INNS from one location to the next. Examples of INNS causing issues are Himalayan Balsam, Giant Hogweed, water fern and Parrot’s Feather. Killer shrimps and Signal Crayfish pose a risk to native invertebrates, fish and plants.

What can we do about INNS as paddlers?

Having been paddling we can all make sure we wash our equipment down with fresh water. This can remove anything that’s attached itself the board’s hull. Our wet gear should also be cleaned thoroughly. Som INNS can survive for up to two weeks in damp places. So rinsing paddling clothing is essential (it’s also better for general hygiene).

A Signal Crayfish on the River Thames.

You may also fancy volunteering for the removal of INNS via British Canoeing, The Canal and Rivers Trust or your local SUP/kayak club. For more info follow this link – https://www.britishcanoeing.org.uk/access-and-environment/invasive-non-native-species%20or%20www.canalrivertrust.org.uk

General wildlife etiquette when paddle boarding.

Wildlife at your chosen paddle boarding spot come will be in abundance. There are many different species and types. In all instances, you should give these animals a wide birth. They were here first and this is their home. You’re a visitor so act accordingly. Some wildlife may become inquisitive about who you are and what you’re doing. If they approach you then be calm and let them make the approach. Seals, for instance, can be very nosey. Video evidence online showing interested seals can be found. You’ll know when a seal is unhappy as it’ll begin snorting. At this point, we’d suggest moving away slowly.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHrpJJB7CAc

Dolphins are another animal that can often want to check you out (if paddling coastal venues). Dolphins, whales and porpoises are protected by law. You face a hefty fine of up to £5000 if caught deliberately disturbing these animals. In all instances DO NOT TRY AND FEED WILDLIFE. For nesting birds use the 100 metre rule and give a wide birth.

Care for yourself and others whilst paddle boarding.

Looking after yourself is vital whilst paddling. This isn’t so much a point about paddle boarding safety as we’ve already covered that. This is more about making sure you enjoy the sport to its full and don’t have any nasty experiences. Not taking unnecessary risks is a good point. If you do pick up any minor injuries, which can happen, then we’d urge you to attend to these quickly. If not, you do run the risk of getting poorly. Leptospirosis is a risk at inland waterway stretches for instance. And this can infect a paddler through open wounds if not covered.

When paddling in a group, if someone should end with a minor injury then helping to sort this out is a good move. There’s nothing worse than being off games because you’ve let a cut become infected through actually doing the sport or instance.

The most common water born illnesses to be aware of in the UK – 

You can find out more about the above here.

Paddle boarding and skin cancer.

We don’t want to sound like the fun police but with many aspects of paddle boarding there are always additional considerations – we’ve talked about many already. Stand up paddle boarding, largely, is about SUPing in the sun. Or at least brighter, fairer weather. This means riders will be out under those UV rays that whilst feeling pleasant at the time can cause issues.

Be mindful of harmful UV rays when SUPing.

Skin cancer has ramped up in the last few years. Between 2013-2023 melanoma is up by 27%. This can be attributed to longer life spans. But with an ageing population comes more health problems, such as skin cancer. 

Preventing melanoma – particularly whilst paddle boarding – can be done by wearing high factor sunscreen, a hat, anti-UV SUP clothing and being mindful of the problem.

Paddle boarding and UV glare.

Another paddle boarding related health issue that shouldn’t be overlooked is eye damage. Keeping those sunny, fair weather paddle boarding sessions in mind sun reflects off the water and can be extremely glaring. Staring into these reflected UV rays can, over time, damage the eyes. Therefore protection is a must.

Yes we do!

Wearing a good quality pair of Polarised sunglasses (ones that float!) is a good idea. Even in low light conditions, it might be worth keeping a pair of eye shades on. McConks sells a range of floating polarised sunnies designed specifically for SUP and are worth a look.

How to use your paddle board for the greater good.

Here at McConks, we’re BIG advocates of looking after the environment and being a sustainable business. Being an outdoor equipment retailer this should be as standard, you might think. But that doesn’t always translate. We REALLY try our best to do what’s right for the planet and promote a greener way of life. 

Family McConks doesn’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk as well. You can read about the McConks ethical and sustainable approach here.

SUP litter picks are always worth it.

So what can you do with your paddle board to have a positive impact? 

There are plenty of ways to use your paddle board for the great good. Organising things like litter picks along your local stretch of canal is an easy one. You’ll probably be aware a SUP makes for a great carrying platform. But rather than load up with essential touring items stack your broad with debris and rubbish and help rid our waterways of some of the rubbish. This article talks about SUP litter picks more in depth.

Using your paddle board for charitable benefit is another way of paddling for a difference. A sponsor paddle board session, for instance, will help a deserving cause as well as give you a positive reason for getting afloat. We know plenty of riders who’ve done this kind of thing and continue to do so. A stand up paddle board is a good vehicle for raising money with sponsored paddles.

The McConks sustainable and ethical business model.

We will also say that buying a McConks paddle board is also you doing your bit – even if you might not know it. It’s tricky but we believe our business model is unique. Everything we do, from the way we design and test boards, to how we get them manufactured and how we get them to customers is done in a way that reduces harm to the planet.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9CAS189n6k

And this doesn’t stop. McConks is always looking for more ways to reduce our carbon footprint and be even more sustainable.

Anything else I need to know as a new paddle boarder?

There’s so much information to take in as a new paddle boarder – this article itself shows just a snippet of what you should be digesting. We appreciate it’s a lot but knowledge is power, so the saying goes. 

McConks published its SUP user guide a while back which signposts a sensible pathway for new and improving stand up paddlers. There’s a lot more information in that guide which you can find here. On from that, we’d suggest getting involved with one of the more popular social media SUP groups. Whilst you do have to sometimes sift through opinions there’s a lot of learning that can be gleaned here. All in becoming a SUP sponge and soaking up all there is to know is a worthwhile exercise. This’ll help make your paddle boarding sessions more fulfilling and keep you safe in the process.

Enjoy your paddle boarding.

We appreciate this article is a long one. We’ve tried to cover as much paddle boarding info as possible, based on experience as participants as well as a retailer. You might not be able to digest all what’s said in one go – which is fine. It’s an article that’s designed to be referred back to time and again.

Enjoying your time afloat is the most important thing!

The biggest take away should be: remember to enjoy your SUPing. Have fun and it’ll be an activity you’ll love for years. There’s no reason to not be a paddle boarder for life. Many are already on this path. You can be too.

What are the next steps?

There’s always so much to learn, whatever your level. And there’s a variety of pathways to take your SUPing. One good choice of route would be getting qualified as an instructor. This’ll teach you load but also get you accredited for passing this info on to others. As an instructor, you’ll also be in a position – if you wish – to earn a little extra from the sport you love. So it’s a win win situation. Having additional SUP instructors is also one way to help raise paddle boarding safety and best practice awareness too. 

For any further questions please get in touch with us via the usual channels.