SUP Hack: Maximum glide, minimum effort – stand up paddle boarding and trim.

SUP board trim: a very overlooked and misunderstood topic within the world of stand up paddling.

Perfect Trim (once the original name of McConks SUP and still a registered trading label) is that point where the grace of stand up paddling meets silky waters in perfect harmony. Perfect Trim means effortless glide being achieved with minimised rider effort. Perfect Trim results in an optimised machine slicing through the water in a display of listless beauty.  Listless because when you achieve perfect trim deviation from this isn’t needed. But achieving Perfect Trim requires you to work hard to find that balance.

Perfect Trim, sadly, is also a company name that all but the most experienced waterpeople would associate with hairdressers, which is why McConks was renamed before launch from Perfect Trim!

Now for the tech part. What is trim exactly?

It shouldn’t surprise you that no two stand up paddle board designs are ever the same. Hull contours, rocker, rail shape, volume distribution, tail design, fin placement and so on all make for performance changes on the water. Do one thing with one SUP and it reacts (for better or worse) differently when doing the same with another. Where you stand plays a part, how you paddle another; body weight, body shape, how your muscles are formed, where your power zones are, paddle technique, on water conditions – the list is endless. But finding that sweet spot, the magic combination of all the above is when riders will discover their SUP nirvana.

Perfect SUP trim on small waves.

Some boards can be trimmed from the front, the nose just dipping ever so slightly during each stroke, whereas other SUPs will require paddlers to be positioned further back towards the tail. Railing (leaning to one side) can improve the tracking with some designs while flat as a board (literally) sweeping will yield best results with other shapes.

Which does what, however, is down to you to discover – manufacturers won’t make it easy, by telling you, that’s for sure! And even if they did, you’d be well advised to ignore them, because everyone’s shape, paddle technique, power delivery and weight distribution is different.

So experimentation is essential to discover your perfect trim and your perfect board.  In many cases paddlers simply won’t have the time, inclination or understanding of the technicalities of trim to experiment and achieve perfect trim.

In fact, it’s probably one of the reasons trim isn’t widely spoken about. But that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. And don’t think for one moment this is just hard SUP specific – it isn’t! Inflatables are also subject to trim. Some more than others, admittedly, but finding that sweet spot is paramount to achieving the best forward momentum for the least effort.

In the case of McConks we know our onions and will happily give you some pointers on best trim results. After all, that’s what we’re here for – to help you along your personal path of SUP enlightenment and development.

Perfect trim for some white water SUP action.

We’ll also answer questions (to the best of our ability) you have regarding other kit. After all, we’re not naive enough to believe every paddler in the world will have purchased a McConks iSUP (although it’s a nice thought, and a realistic target for the future.

What we do suggest, however, is the next time you’re out on the water and have some time to mess about then do so. Practice moving your feet about the deck and seeing what happens to your board. Stand with feet wider apart and closer together. Stand forward and back. Stand with one foot slightly in front of the other.  Bend your knees more and get your centre of gravity closer to the board.  Lean your SUP onto its edge, as much as you dare, to see how this affects things. See how far you have to lean out before you tip off.  On an inflatable board you will probably find you have to lean much further from the vertical than you expect before you fall off.  And then try it on the opposite side. At the very least this will give you a greater understanding of your kit, it’s tolerances and thresholds and what it will and won’t do with you on it. In the process you may discover optimum paddling trim.

If not, leave your dabblings for another day before repeating. But trust us when we say this will not only refresh/reenergise your sessions but also drag your skills to the next level.

Have fun, experiment, fiddle and faff and you too will soon discover your Perfect Trim!

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