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Win a McConks Go Explore 11’4 iSUP with Surfers Against Sewage

Win a McConks Go Explore 11’4 iSUP with Surfers Against Sewage

When Surfers Against Sewage contacted us earlier this year to be one of the star prizes in the raffle, we thought about it for all of two or three seconds before saying ‘hell yes, please’.

It is incredibly humbling to be given the opportunity to support such an important cause, and even more flattering to be the only SUP brand to be given the chance to do so. For such an important national charity to select little old McConks, made us feel like we were really punching above our weight! And when we found out what other prizes were in the raffle, we realised we were in very esteemed company. Many larger brands would give their right arm for an opportunity like this, but having spoken a lot with the lovely people at SAS over the last few months, it’s clear that our principles and ethics align, and it makes us really happy to know we were chosen because of this. Principles matter, and it’s awesome to see that these principles aren’t overshadowed by the slightly dirty necessity of fundraising.

As the leading water environmental charity working on behalf of recreational water users, Surfers Against Sewage run deep in the veins of Andy and Jenny. Andy first worked on a joint press release between Friends of the Earth Cymru and Surfers Against Sewage back in 1998 (1), and both have been regular members and avid consumers of SAS hoodies and t-shirts over the years. So we just had to snap up the chance to help SAS deliver their purpose to ‘inspire, unite and empower communities to protect oceans, beaches, waves and wildlife’.

The only downside of being asked to donate, is that we can’t buy tickets. So of course we don’t need to win one of our own boards, but have you seen the other prizes? We’re rather gutted. We’d love the chance to build our own wood surfboard with Arbo, or have a to night off grid eco adventure with Kents of Cornwall! So we’re just a little gutted!

To find out more about the amazing companies who’ve donated prizes, click the pictures below!

But, most importantly, if you want to win one of these awesome prizes, you need to be in it to win it. And of course, winning is the reason you enter, but even if you don’t, at least you get a that farm fuzzy feeling of knowing you’ve done your bit to improve the water environment by supporting SAS!

What can you win?

and what do you win if you win the McConks?

An 11’4 Go Explore iSUP, with ankle leash, our acclaimed SUP sac with chunky wheels and stowable back pack, triple action double chamber HP6 pump, and carbon fibre V83 high aspect paddle. And the confidence of knowing you’re paddling an iSUP from an ethical and sustainable family brand, that puts ethics and quality ahead of profit.

And if you don’t fancy your chances of winning and just need to get your hands on one of these boards, you can so here

So exactly how do McConks principles align with those of SAS?

We’ve removed unsustainable packaging from our products.

This doesn’t mean we’ve removed plastic – plastic is not the enemy, and in fact plastic always has been, and always will be, one of the best packaging materials for certain products. However, we have removed 100% all unnecessary plastic packaging (which was almost of all of it!), and most of our products will be packaged only in cardboard, paper, or vegetable based compostable plastic alternatives.

Sustainable marketing; meeting demand not creating demand

We don’t update our products every single year, with exactly the same technology rebranded as something new, or with slightly different colours. We leave that to almost every other SUP Brand whose debt levels require them to sell more and more every year. We just make great products with the best technology and make them to last for years. In fact, we’re so confident of our product quality, that we gaurantee them for 3 years and offer a 28 day no quibble return policy. In 2020, we are increasing that guarantee to 5 years!

Sustainable sourcing

It’s rather unfashionable in the world of sound bites and positive branding to define yourself by what you don’t do.  But we’ve never followed the crowd.  And we think what we don’t do is just as important as what we do.   

What we don’t do is buy cheap t-shirts, baseball caps or car stickers in bulk from the cheapest factories in China just to give away and act as low cost advertising.  We don’t make products just for the sake of making products and using our customers as free advertising.  And when we do launch a new product line,  we have considered the materials and the environmental impact of that product from the word go.  So for example, our t-shirts, hoodies and rash vests are made of recycled plastic bottles and fishing nets, and salvaged fairtrade organic cotton waste from the textiles industry. Our floating shades are made of sustainable bamboo, and we really hope that our new changing robes will be too. And wherever possible our hardware products are made of sustainable materials; our standard fins are made of recycled plastic bottles as are our SUP bags. And our awesome dry bags are made from offcuts of PVC from the manufacture of inflatable SUP boards.

We’ve got lots more detail on our sustainability principles and our GoInspire initiative if we haven’t bored you already!

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Paddleboarding in the Cotswold Water Park?

Where can I SUP in the Cotswold Water Park?

The Cotswold Water Park is an area of 40 square miles, with more than 150 lakes, set across the countryside of Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and West Oxfordshire. It’s one of Europe’s largest lake systems, and is a haven for wildlife and watersports.

Therefore any sane person might think it would be easy to find somewhere to paddleboard in the lake system.

It’s not quite that simple though.

All of the lakes are in private ownership, therefore knowing where you can paddle isn’t straightforward (1).

So where can you paddle?

Cotswold Water Park Hire

This is a stunning lake (Lake 86) next to the Cotswold Water Park Visitor Centre, Cotswold Outdoors and just off the dual carriageway the A419. You have two options for SUP at this lake . Firstly you can hire a SUP by the hour (they use some awful SUPs from a company called McConks here, but you can still have lots of fun despite this ;-). Alternatively, you can get annual membership and launch your own SUP here (2). The lake also has a very popular swim lane for open water swimming and you can also hire rowing boats, canoes and kayaks. All in all, a lovely, friendly, laid back location for a paddle. CWPhire is open daily through the summer through to 5pm,and open until 19:00pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can also try out SUP yoga (often fully booked, but if not, walk in sessions available) on a Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

Make a day of it by bringing a BBQ or picnic, or by popping to the nearby cafes and pubs for a bite of lunch!

You can also book private tuition from qualified SUP instructor and yoga teacher Kathy Marston

Waterland Outdoor Pursuits

Waterland is next to the Cotswold Water Park Beach and Country Park at lake 32. You can pay to hire and to launch your own kit, and you can also be a member of the Thameswey Canoe club (with over 200 members!) With a cafe and showers, Waterland is a friendly place to spend a few hours. Like all quality SUP rental, the gear is top quality, with only Red Paddle Co or McConks SUP gear being used.

South Cerney Outdoors

SCO used to be a Gloucesterhire County Council (GCC) run outdoor ed facility, and even though it has changed hands a few times since GCC sold it, the ethos is much the same – aimed at providing water activity training and qualifications for school aged kids. Although, since being in private hands, the provision for kids of all ages (adults) has increased.

The only time you can really SUP here as an individual is when they run their Wednesday SUP club nights through the longer evenings.

SCO use Red Paddle SUP for all their lessons and sessions.

Cotswold Water Park and Beach

There are two lakes at Cotswold water park and beach. You will pay for parking/entry at £20 for an MPV or £16 a car, and then pay £10 for every 30 minutes of paddleboard hire. The SUP boards used are Fanatic Air, and you’re only allowed to paddle on the Northern of the two lakes, sharing the lake with the WiBit aquaventure inflatable park.

Find out more

Find out more details about opening times and directions from this map


(1) the positive news is that many of the lakes are managed by a Charity, the Cotswold Water Park Trust, on behalf of the public, who have a responsibility to to provide for the benefit of the public, and in particular for the inhabitants of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, facilities in the interests of social welfare for education, conservation, recreation and leisure time occupation at the Cotswold Water Park (“the Park”) and one of their specific named responsibilities is to ‘assist in achieving the provision of appropriate public access for all to sites and facilities in the Park for recreation purposes’. Despite this, there are only a small number of lakes that actually participate in watersport, and the vast majority of these are for private members only.

There are also a very large number of lakes that have been sold or leased to property management companies looking to make a large profit from holiday homes and second homes.

If you’re after a potted history of the dubious politics of the Cotswold Water Park, a dip into the Archives of Rotten Burroughs in Private Eye is a very interesting read. Put simply, Cotswold District Council and Watermark Ltd (a private developer) haven’t exactly showered themselves with glory, and Gloucs County Council and the Trust also could arguably have done better to protect the public interest. But we’re in different times now, and hopefully the brown paper bags and dodgy handshakes (allegedly) are all in the past.

(2) CWPhire used to allow day launches for a small fee, but as always, a small group of idiots who couldn’t follow instructions, spoiled it for everyone else. And whilst the rules might not seem important to everyone, if they aren’t followed, the business’s insurance might not pay out in the event of a public liability claim. And whilst they have excellent safety cover, and are experts in water safety (sister company Rapid Skills is based at the same location), an idiot, not following rules, can bankrupt the best of operators is there’s an accident!

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Team McConks album

Team McConks photowall

Team McConks photowall

We get lots of photos sent from our lovely extended family – holiday photos, fun photos, photos of kids growing up.  We love getting them, and we love seeing our kit being used around the world. It makes all the late nights and hard work worth it to see those smiles!

But some of you have asked if we could create a gallery of the photos you’ve sent, even asking if it’s possible for you to upload them directly. and the answer has always been no, because we’ve not been able to configure the website securely enough to allow this to happen.

We did it!

Guess what… We’ve finally found a secure way to do it 🙂 You can now use a simple form to upload photos to the Team McConks photowall.

And even better, you can write a short note or short article. as part of the upload! So you can provide some words to set the scene or to promote your favourite cause.

Team McConks photowall
Feature on our photowall.

Map your photos and footage

We’re also implementing a way that you’ll be able to add a pin to a map to locate the photos, which will then open up the post and photos.   It’s in beta at the moment, but you can try it here.

Map your challenges and travels on McConks Map. This video is of Roger Chandler being the first person EVER to circumnavigate Menorca on a SUP. And he did it on a McConks Go Explore 12’8

Upload from your phone or tablet

But the best bit?  You can do all of this direct from your phone or tablet. The upload has been optimised for mobile. So snap away with your snazzy new waterproof phone, and upload on the go. No more waiting around ’til you get in front of a laptop!

The small print

You retain full copyright of your photos, and if McConks ever would like to use the photos in any of our marketing, we will of course ask for permission.

The only rules about submitting a post and photos are:

  1. Keep it clean and legal
  2. You remain responsible and liable for the content
  3. Make it fun
  4. You agree that we can share a link to the post you’ve created on social media (Facebook, Insta, Twitter, Pinterest)

p.s. There might be short delay between submitting your post and photos and the post going live on the website. Sorry about this, but we do need to check that the content is suitable for our webpage, and not spammy.  The posts will appear here, and we will (eventually) put a link to the feed on our homepage.

p.p.s If you want to promote your SUP related business through this feed, you’re welcome to do so as long as you feature our products as part of the photos/feed please.  You can add a URL, so you can use this as part of your SEO strategy.

p.p.p.s   You will also be able to view all of the photos in a photo gallery, but we’re still working on that! 

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Finding your nearest SUP litter pick with SUPhubUK

Find your nearest paddleboard litter pick

Maps and events planner

Find your nearest paddleboard litter pick
SUPhubUK map showing litter picks happening in the next 4 weeks

SUPhubUK is a great resource for all things SUP.  Whether it be finding your nearest race, finding the nearest SUP club for your holiday in Scotland, or whether it be finding out when the next SUP retreat is going to happen, SUPhubUK has it covered.

And now there is a new event category of SUP litter picks.

SUP litter picks

Litter picks can be arranged by individuals or clubs, and are a great way of meeting other SUPers whilst doing something to protect our rivers and seas.

This weekend – 4/5th February – there are two litter picks happening, one in the South West with Waterborn SUP, and one in the South East on the Thames with Bray SUP .

Find your nearest SUP litter pick
Litter picks w/e 4/5 February 2018

Head over to SUPhubUK to find out more details.

If ever you want to arrange a litter pick, but are short of boards, the contact us at McConks. We have helped club events and litter picks in the past with the loan of boards. We’re event sending our MegaSUP to the Stroudwater litter pick over Easter weekend!

Happy paddling

Team McConks

p.s. If you want to get your events added to SUPhubUK, whether this be litter picks, SUP yoga session, social paddles or any other kind of SUP event, just email and they’ll help.  You can also get your club, school, shop or business added to the SUP maps or even add them yourself!

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The four stages of Santa

So how do paddleboarding Father Christmas’s, Santa SUPs and festive elves fit into the four stages of life?

First, you believe in Santa

Secondly, you stop believing in Santa

Thirdly, you are Santa

And finally, you look like Santa.

We’re not sure what stage all of these Santas are at.  But they’ve certainly raised eyebrows and drawn lots of crowds across the UK.

And it looks like Father Christmas has been busy delivering McConks boards and paddles in the last twelve months.

Well done to Bath paddleboard centre, Bath SUP, Jay SUP Manning, SUPer Whale ,  Mid Cheshire SUP, Bartley SUP and B-ROW for getting so many Santas out on the water over the last two weekends!

If you’re stil struggling for Christmas present ideas, why not buy the gift of paddleboarding?  We’ve got lots of ideas, from experiences, to gift cards to accessories.  Check out our blog articles below


Aloha Birmingham??You have welcomed us with some challenging weather today ??, but hey we embrace the #yearroundstoke?❄️? Mahalo to B-Row: Rowing and Canoeing in Birmingham Bartley SUP Ben Julian Coaching for bringing these many Santas together? Check out the cutest #SUPpup ??Merry Christmas y’all ?⭐️? #coldwaterSUP #SantaSUP #jointheSUPtribe #sharetheSUPstoke

Geplaatst door SUPer Whale op zondag 17 december 2017

’tis the season to be merry – gift ideas – from £10 to £200, there is something in here for every paddler

Give a little pleasure for Christmas – why experiences make the best gifts, and how to choose the best experiences