If you’re thinking about teaching your kids to windsurf then you’d do a lot worse than showing them the ways with an applicable inflatable board – such as McConks’ 9’8 Go Free crossover SUP. Whilst the Go Free is great for adults, who also fancy a dabble with the windier end of stand up, it’s perfect for kids as well. Here’s why:
Firstly, the Go Free is an air board meaning should a rider stumble and trip then it’s a much softer surface to land on with more of a bounce than you’d get with a hard board. Inflatables also don’t scuff skin. A non-abrasive surface is therefore kinder to sensitive skin.
The Go Free 9’8 has three different fin boxes; one centrally located US style type and two Click Fin side bites. This means you can remove the larger centre fin and run the board using only those smaller sides. That’s particularly good for shallow water windsurfing. Avoiding deeper stretches will inspire more confidence in children and aid the learning process. And even when removing the centre fin, which will give efficient directional stability for adults, the hard rubber release edge on the hindquarter’s rail of the Go Free will aid straight-line tracking, thereby offsetting not having the middle fin in its box.
Speaking about the hard release edge; upwind ability is improved even without having something like a daggerboard or secondary fin, placed further along the hull’s centre line towards the nose, in place. This rubber edge is sort of halfway house but will the Go Free 9’8 track better on close haul points of sail. For those children at this stage, who’re developing their skills, being able to ‘point’ upwind more efficiently is a winner.
Different footstrap options, with the Go Free‘s inboard/outboard settings, are brilliant to get your offspring used to fixed stance sailing – even without actually planing. Adults, of course, can put the straps outboard with a quick and simple swap out. For kids, being able to stand more inboard, will give a ‘feel’ and help develop that all-important muscle memory.
The McConks Go Free 9’8 is fast, even at low speed. Whilst it’s composed for beginners as your kids improve (and adults for that matter) and are looking to generate speed it’s a board that’ll accommodate. To the point where it’ll take riders from simply floating to proper planing windsurfing.
McConks’ 9’8 Go Free isn’t prone to dinging like hard windsurf/windSUP boards. Kids and adults alike will drop their rig often but it’ll just bounce off. Also, spatial awareness isn’t as heightened during the learning process. There’s a likelihood you’ll crash the board. Being inflatable should ensure no real damage occurs though.
We’ll admit that hard windsurfing boards do have a performance edge (just). But for kids learning how to windsurf and progress you can’t really beat an inflatable like the McConks Go Free 9’8.
Top tips for getting your kids windsurfing
- Take things slow. Let them ‘drive’ and make it more about fun than anything else.
- Use a lightweight, preferably kiddy specific sail, boom and mast that’ll have dimensions suitable for little hands and limbs.
- Aim for a shallower stretch of water and avoid strong flow or tide.
- Make sure your kids wear a buoyancy aid, wetsuit and helmet if necessary.
- Attach a tether, such as a rope, to stop them drifting off downwind but still giving a degree of independence.
- Don’t bombard your kids with too much technical info – they’re way more intuitive than you’d think.
- Laugh about the learning process. If they fall off keep it light and not serious.
- Keep an eye on children getting too cold – even on the warmest days they’ll feel a chill after a short while.
- Aim to get them windsurfing regularly. The more your kids windsurf the quicker they’ll progress.
There’s a lot of gear out there in the big wide world of stand up paddling: pretty much, there’s a board, paddle, accessory bundle and combo for all forms of getting wet. As many will already be aware SUP is super diverse – it isn’t JUST about paddling these days.
You can split SUP into many different categories, based on the wants/needs of ‘paddlers’, weather conditions and where riders put in.
McConks has a long heritage with wind driven sports. Our illustrious leaders (more commonly known as Andy and Jen!) both come from a windsurfing watersports background, so the connection’s there . It should come as no surprise, therefore, that we embrace windSUP and did so from the off. In recent times, with the evolution of inflatable technologies, it’s now possible to have proper performance in an air board – particularly with planing windsurfing in mind. And we’re always striving to improve upon this. Our next improvement will be with inset fin boards to remove the last bit of drag stopping boards from planing.
The beady-eyed will have also noticed McConk’s Go Fly wing range. Wings, for those not initiated, have been around for almost as long as windsurfing but only really last year (2019) did they explode onto the scene properly – driven in large by implementing inflatable technology for the production of easier to use wings.
Responding to the ever-growing interest in wind-driven SUP products McConks has developed the 9’8 Go Free board. This is our answer to windSUP, performance inflatable windsurfing and wingsurfing. We appreciate, however, that many SUPers mightn’t be aware of what these products can do. With this in mind, we roped in our good friend Tez Plavenieks, from SUP Mag UK and Windsurfing UK magazines, to give you the lowdown on the McConks 9’8 Go Free. He’ll also be covering the McConks Go Fly wing in part two and we’re hoping that there’ll be some water footage for a third instalment – stay tuned on that one! For now check out the vid below to find out about the McConks 9’8 Go Free windSUP/windsurf/wingsurf inflatable board.
So here, in the words of a rather knowledgeable brummie, is the review.