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Wearing the correct SUP clothing, whatever the time of year.

Humorous image above aside…

All through summer we’ve seen unprecedented amounts of new recruits to stand up paddle boarding taking to the water – which is awesome! What we’ve also seen is newbie paddlers wearing the bare minimum of clothing to paddle, which isn’t so awesome…

This summer, as everyone’s aware, has been cracking for weather, by and large. There’s been plenty of sunshine, warm air temps and warm water. Even during those hotter periods, however, wind chill is still prevalent. In pursuit comes the risk of cardiac shock and hypothermia. The cold waters of the UK – even at the hottest times of year – can cause all manner of problems. Add to the mix our ever changeable weather and the cocktail can be deadly if you’re not careful.

Whilst your paddling mission may start off all rosey it can quickly go awry in the blink of an eye. There’s no accounting for kit failure and other ‘incidents’. Without the proper paddling protection the issue(s) you face could be exacerbated. Cardiac shock occurs when people fall into water that’s cooler than the air. That’s not to say cold water per se. The water may be warm. It just mightn’t be as warm as the air. The body goes into shock and the individual in question can suffer cardiac arrest. Needless to say a decent covering of paddling attire, be that applicable wetsuit or SUP wear, may help cardiac shock be avoided.

Evaporative cooling, meanwhile, can happen after a paddler has gotten wet. With the slimmest of clothing keeping body parts warm the water starts to evaporate, body heat flowing to extremities to fend off chill but leaving his/her core cold. This is when hypothermia can set in. And it can creep up and grip like stink. As with cardiac shock a decent wetsuit or well manufactured paddling garments can prevent this.

In contrast you can wear too much – too much heat can be as much of a problem as the cold. An overly thick wetsuit, for instance, may cause more harm than do good. Taking hot days into account that thick rubber will only serve to overheat teh wearer and cause (potentially) heat exhaustion and dehydration.

The UK’s climate is ever changing with little consistency. Traditional colder months can sometimes be warmer than expected whilst summer may see extended periods of cooler conditions. Choosing the correct clothing for stand up paddling is therefore key. It also means you need a selection of kit if you want to paddle as often as possible.

Winter wetsuits, summer wetsuits, layers such a thermal rashvests that can be worn as stand alone garments and everything else in between. Possibly adding a drysuit – for the coldest periods – and well designed SUP threads for all types of scenario you’ll encounter is good practise. A brimming toy box is always a good idea to make sure you’re a safe as possible when stand up paddle boarding through the seasons, however frivolous this may seem…

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SUP fundamentals – bury (submerge) your paddle’s blade during each stroke.

Teaching SUP paddle technique is tricky. As individuals we’re wired uniquely to complete the ‘moves’ which best suit our body geometry. Trying to force a SUPer to paddle your way is therefore wrong. What’s much better is to work with the rider in questions and help develop their technique to be as efficient as possible. That said there are a couple of fundamentals which need to be adhered to when talking stand up paddling technique. One of which is burying, or completely submerging, the blade during the catch (power/pull) part of the stroke.

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve the correct length paddle shaft of not; whether you’re stance is Bob on or what type of board you’re paddling. In fact, little else matters as much when considering forwards propulsion and momentum. Your paddle is your engine and tickling the water is akin to driving a Ferrari F40 whilst keeping it in first gear. You’re not enjoying the full benefit and stylistically doesn’t look great. Aesthetics aside, however, and it’s the efficiency of your paddling that’s the big one to focus on. Time and again we see paddlers barely tickling the water with their paddle. If that blade was to be fully immersed then even if said paddler doesn’t have the great ‘reach’, a beast mode ‘catch and ‘pull’ or lightening ‘recovery’ then their efficient (and therefore overall enjoyment of SUP) would go up exponentially.

Next time you’re out for a float try it. Reach towards the nose as you would do normally then plunge that paddle blade all the way in. You shoudl feel a degree of resistance from the water but we guarantee you’ll be advancing forwards at a much greater rate of knots than previous. Repeat this all the time so your muscle memory locks it in and the whole process becomes natural.

As far as stand up paddle boarding fundamental tips are concerned this is one of the biggest…

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SUP hack #3569 – attaching additional D-rings to an inflatable stand up paddle board.

Customising your inflatable stand up paddle board is a thing. There are many ways you can do this. There are a couple of ways, however, that are both practical and pimped. In this instance we’re talking about adding extra D-rings so a sit on top kayak seat can be fitted. This SUP hack from McConks’ boss man Andy.

  • Step 1: You’ll probably need to trim the patches the D-rings sit in so that’ll be your first job.
  • Step 2: Mark out the position you want them. If fitting a kayak seat it should be centred over the carry handle, so probably about 40 cm in front and behind, but check with the seat straps.  Once you have the position mark with a pencil.
  • Step 3: Use some fine sandpaper to slightly scuff up both the marked area of the board and the bottom of the D-ring.
  • Step 4: Cut some moulds from foam. You’ll need to apply weight to the outside of the D-rrings to stop them peeling up during setting.  We normally cut hollow circles out of the foam that comes with the boards which allows weight to be applied to outside
  • Step 5: Apply the glue to both board and bottom of D-ring and leave for 20 minutes.
  • Step 6: Apply more glue to both surfaces and leave to go tacky (between 5 and 10 mins).
  • Step 7: Firmly push the two surfaces together and apply the foam moulds and a weight.
  • Step 8: After 10 minutes take weight off and remove any glue residue. Reapply moulds and weight and leave for 60 minutes.
  • Step 9: Remove moulds and weight to check positioned properly. Reapply and leave for 24-48 hours (the closer to 48 hours the better).
  • Step 10: Test them by pulling.

Have fun!

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Stand up paddle board trim – and what happens if you don’t achieve it.

We’ve talked about SUP board trim in a previous post, which you can read here. For those not inclined, however, we’ll sum stand up paddle board trim now:

Trim = optimum tracking, glide with least amount of drag = maximum efficiency.

Some stand up paddle boards trim flat whilst others can be railed on an edge (think slightly leaning over). Some like to be paddled from the front, with the tail slightly raised, whilst others prefer an elevated nose and engaged rear. The best thing to do is experiment and find what works best for your board (inflatables too) as every SUP is different.

The biggest thing to consider with trim is your paddle stroke, or rather how inaccurate board trim affects paddle strokes negatively. If your SUP isn’t travelling at maximum efficiency through the water then you’re essentially putting WAY more effort into each stroke and expending more energy quicker. And this goes for just recreational pootling as well as putting the hammer down. In some cases unnecessary upper board paddle work can start to aggravate – especially if you SUP regularly. This wear and tear can ultimately lead to injury, in some cases severe damage such as rotator cuff problems. There can be other contributing factors as well, such as paddle shafts which are too long, but inefficient board trim can certainly be a culprit. On top of this, if simply getting from point A to B becomes too arduous then the enjoyment of paddling slowly wanes and in time you feel inclined to SUP less and less. With temperatures still warm (air and water) it’s an idea to have a play with your board’s trim and discover what works best. Even inexperienced SUPers will find improved performance by altering your stance slightly. And in the long this’ll benefit your overall paddling as well.

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Stand up paddle board dimensions: only part of the picture.

When you’re in the market for a new stand up paddle board the first thing you’ll probably be looking at are dimensions: length, width and volume being the main identifiers. The problem, however, is that you may get hung up on the numbers too much when actually it’s answering a few simple questions in your own head that may better determine what style of board you should plump for.

And so on…

SUP board dimensions only tell part of the story. In some brand cases – particularly the cheaper end of the spectrum – dimensions won’t mean a thing. With quality control out the window you can bet your bottom Dollar that upon taking a measuring tool to these products the dims will be way off what’s quoted. (In McConks’ case we check all our wares and have a good working relationship with our suppliers that helps guarantee what we print on the box is indeed what you get. This means we can monitor, check and make sure everything’s as it should be).

Overall shape of a stand up paddle board, as well as tail, rail, hull contours (if it’s a hard board) and nose type will dictate what you experience on the water much more than numbers alone. Some sub-9′ SUPs, for instance, will track and glide much better than a bigger 10’8. There may be less overall volume but a 9′ could be better over distance. So, if you’re talking surf SUPs, and there’s a bit of jaunt to get out to the actual peak, you may be better off with the shorter paddle board.

Stability can also be a factor. Your chosen iSUP could have more width than your neighbour’s inflatable yet his/hers feels more planted. This could be because of a wider tail – square versus rounded – or a reduced thickness – 5″ versus 6″. The 5″ thick board will sit lower in the water which actually increases stability.

The above examples are just a couple of what you may come across during the SUP buying process. The only real way to assess a board’s performance is get the right advice – such as speaking to us here at McConks about our products – or demoing/trying the board in question (something else you can do with a McConks SUP. As the old age saying goes; ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’ so why should you assess a SUP by its dimensions alone?

If you need a hand choosing what McConks stand up paddle board fits your needs best then give us a shout.

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SUP hacks, tips and tricks: Doing a downwinder – making wind your stand up paddle boarding friend.

We’ve talked about sea breezes if you’re thinking of paddling at coastal venues before. And we’ve talked about scoring the flattest water, and least blowy conditions, by seeking shelter. There’s lots of chat about wind currently doing the rounds and how not using it to good effect can be to the detriment of your SUP session or even become a life threatening issue. Being blown out to sea, for instance, can happen to those unaware.

Wind, though, can be your friend if you let it. And we don’t mean in a windsurf, windSUP or wing surf kind of way – we’re still talking conventional stand up paddle boarding here.

Watermen and women who discovered SUP over ten years ago were using the wind to propel themselves forwards on a journey. With gusts at their backs paddlers would head off with aims of not only being driven downwind (as is the term) they’d also be aiming to catch rolling swell, ‘bumps’, and ride them much like a surfer will ride a breaking wave. The act of downwinding is very much a thing within SUP and can be taken to extreme lengths for those with experience.

Downwind paddling doesn’t have to be extreme, however. With planning and thought, coupled with a decent skillset, stand up paddlers can ‘do a downwinder’ albeit in mellower form.

Onshore wind

With wind blowing onto your place of launch it’s possible to head out and paddle straight into those gusts. It’ll be hard going, we’ll admit, and you’ll need to dig deep with your paddle to make headway. But persevere and after a short while you’ll have covered some distance. Then it’s a case of pivoting round and enjoying the fruits of your labour. Being huffed along can be super fun. If you can time it with catching bumps as well then all the better. Once back at point A, if you have enough energy, spin again and repeat.

Cross shore wind

Either blowing left to right, or right to left, wind from these quadrants will propel riders along their chosen stretch. This direction of wind is most preferable as you can put in at point A and with logistics sorted paddle some distance to point B. There it’ll be a case of taking your gear out and jumping in your transport with absolutely no into wind paddling at all. But as we say you’ll need to plan accordingly and make sure you have a means of transport at both ends.

Downwind stand up paddling can be some of the best SUP you can experience. With a decent set of skills in place, understanding of conditions and appropriate safety measures taken it’s a way to make use of blowy sessions without sticking a sail on your board or using a wing.

Things to consider before ‘doing a downwinder’

MAKE SURE YOU WERE A GOOD QUALITY LEASH (we put this in capitals for good reason!).

DON’T GO OUT IN OFFSHORE WINDS (this also needs to be reitterated!).

Paddle with a buddy or buddies.

Carry a means of communication like a mobile phone of VHF.

Make sure you know what the weather is going to do – get a forecast.

Understand tides and know tide times for the day.

Make sure your skills are up to the job in hand. Mellow wind strengths can be fun – you don’t need it to be blowing like a hoolie! DON’T TAKE ON CONDITIONS THAT ARE TOO EXTREME.

Sort your logistics. Have transport at either end of your downwind run.

Tell someone, or even multiple people, what you intend doing.

Have fun and embrace the wind!

The following video gives an example of where you can take your downwind SUP paddling, if you choose to.

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Stand up paddle boarding hydration tips – it’s not just for performance paddlers!

We all need water; to survive; to refresh and to make us feel well. But hydration goes deeper than that – especially when something like stand up paddle boarding is concerned. It’s not just a case of glugging copious amounts of water either. There’s a bit more to it than that. Here’re tips for stand up paddle boarding hydration, whether you’re a recreational SUPer or hardcore paddler.

Make hydration your first thought

Rather than focusing on your SUP equipment making hydration your first thought is a much better way to enjoying longer stand up paddling sessions and raising your overall SUP game. Not only will this good hydration knock on to other aspects of your life.

Checking your hydration levels

It may be off putting but studying your own urine can tell you a lot about personal hydration levels. A well hydrated individual will have urine that’s clear and copious. If you don’t want to do this then make sure to keep drinking – simples!

Avoid caffeinated or sugary drinks

There’re plenty of energy drinks available, most of which aren’t that great. Filled with unnatural substances they’ll give you a quick hit, that may result in a ‘pick me up’, but ultimately you’ll crash again shortly after, in some cases feeling much the worse for wear. And actually they don’t really hydrate much. They can actually make you thirstier!

Water’s good – for shorter stand up paddle sessions

If you’re a recreational stand up paddler, who takes on short SUP journeys, or only indulges in family paddles, then water’s fine. You still need to hydrate. Any kind of vigorous exercise, even for short periods of time, will see your body lose moisture that’ll need replacing. So drink!

Add fruit to taste

If you’re not too fond of that watery taste then adding a slice of lemon or lime will give it a little zing and make it more appealing. Orange segments as well or if you really fancy going all out then why not plump for the whole St Clements option.

Electrolytes for longer SUP sojourns

Electrolyte mixed drinks can help replace loss of key bodily components as you ramp up the intensity and distance of your stand up paddling. They can also help with endurance so those with a penchant for long distance SUP would find favour with electrolyte drinks. A word of warning, however. Electrolytes shouldn’t be overdone because of their artificial sweeteners and sugary content.

Sip, sip and sip some more

Sipping regularly is the key to staying properly hydrated. Rather than gulping in one sipping at, for instance, 10-20 minute intervals, will see paddlers remain tip top. And this is even for paddlers leisurely cruising with a lower paddle cadence. If it’s sunny and warm then this becomes even more important.  And for SUP racers, as an example, interval sipping should be par for the course.

Don’t wait!

If you feel thirsty then it’s usually too late: you’re dry already. Hydrating will work but you’ll have lost the performance edge (if this is what’s required). Having ready access to your source of hydration is therefore key. A hydration pack, which you wear on your back, works well. Alternatively keep your water bottle in front, attached to a bungee, for easy access.

Hydrate fully to start

Before you begin your paddling session make sure you’re fully hydrated. If you’ve a penchant for a beer or two then diuretics like this will sap moisture from your body. Make sure you get enough hydration into your body if you’ve had alcohol the night before. Caffeine is the same. Even without this most people go through their regular days not fully hydrated. This results in loss of alertness and lack of energy. If you begin your SUP session without being hydrated then it’s uphill from the start.

Good habits pay dividends

The more you hydrate the more used the process you’ll become. Hydrating as a habit will only see positive effects and benefits so start with best foot forward and how you mean to go on. After all, correct hydration will see your everyday life benefit, not just SUP.

Reusable bottles

For any kind of hydration related ‘work’ it’s recommended to reuse your water bottle. We don’t want to be adding to the environmental impact of plastic waste and with a good water bottle, such as a stainless steel vacuum type, you can chill your drink and keep it tasting great all day.

Hyponatraemia

Hyponatraemia is where an individual sweats copiously and drinks plain water in excess to replace this lost moisture. It’s increasingly common for those who participate in SUP races – particularly long, hot SUP races. A lot like dehydration muscle cramps, tiredness and fatigue can be symptomatic of Hyponatraemia. If you’re SUP racing over considerable distance then adding sodium or consuming fluid in addition to salty foods can stop the onset.

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SUP hacks, tips and tricks: scoring the flattest possible water to paddle your SUP in wind.

It’s sunny, with blue skies in abundance. You have a window of opportunity and you’re keen to stand up paddle. Load up the car and off you go. Get to the put in but wait! Oh no! As idyllic as everything looked at home your chosen stretch of water is ruffled with wavelets. It’s a light breeze currently but as you stand and stare the wind’s picking up. Pretty soon there are white caps and your enthusiasm is waning. Having paddled in wind before you know how arduous it can be.

Is the above a familiar scenario to you? Has this happened before? Maybe it occurs frequently – particularly during summer, and especially if you’re a coastal paddler. Having scoured forecast data until you’re blue in the face, with no discernible indicators of wind, it can be disheartening to arrive with a blow in the mix.

So how do you go about scoring the flattest water for stand up paddle boarding during high season?

The first thing to realise is that most coastal venues, but particularly those on the southern fringes of Britain, are prone to the sea breeze effect during summer (although a sea breeze can set up at any coastal put in). In a nutshell, a sea breeze is the gradual warming of the land which sees that warm air begin to rise through the morning. Around the middle part of the day, the rising of this warmer air will become more rapid resulting in a void being left below. This gap needs to be filled. Through early parts of summer, in particular, the sea’s cooler than the air and it’s this chillier part that rushes in off the water to plug the gap, thereby resulting in a typical sea breeze. A recirculation mechanism sets up and there it stays until things cool off again. There’s loads more online about how sea breezes work which is worth looking up.

With the above in mind if you want flat water during high season then early doors SUP sessions are more likely to deliver glassy flat, calm conditions – the earlier the better if you can. Evening times can see late in the day glass offs but if the sea breeze is particularly strong, or has a gradient wind top up, it may last until after dark.

Shelter is also a good bet. Some venues allow paddling next to things like sand bars, or breakwaters/sea defences, which block the chop whipped up by wind. It may still be breezy when you go afloat but any form of chop/swell blocking phenomena will make for an easier time of it SUPing.

For anyone hitting coastal venues during a sea breeze then it can be better to look for somewhere that has a harbour, inlet, or estuary. This plays into the shelter point above. It’s possible to find flat water in harbours, for instance, whilst out in open seas the gusts are puffing. Just make sure you’re aware of tide times and understand how tides work in these locations as flow is usually prominent.

For inland stand up paddlers sea breeze effects aren’t as much a problem – it’s more general frontal wind born of weather systems sweeping across the UK. As we all know ‘weather’ can occur at any time in the UK, summer included. It’s still possible to score flat water though, as long as you’re paying attention to the conditions.

River SUPers may find glassier conditions on the side of the bank the wind’s blowing from. It may be a small jaunt across to the opposite side, if you launch into the face of an oncoming blow. But get across to the opposite bank and it’ll be much flatter. It’s the same with a lake. Although for larger lake water we’d suggest actually launching in the lee of the breeze is better than trying to fight gusts to actually get there.

Thinner waterways, such as canals, will (mostly) provide flatter water for paddling when it’s gusting.  Inland SUPers would be well served to find such a put in.

In almost all cases of being confronted with wind there’s a way to paddle flatter water. It may require some prior planning and even a switch of location to that of your normal launch spot. Knowing local areas helps, some reccis to these destinations isn’t a bad idea to get a lie of the land. Understanding wind, sea breezes and how frontal weather systems affect conditions is always worth genning up on as well. The more knowledge you have the better your experience of SUP will be.

Alternatively get on the whole wind or wing SUP train with the McConks Go Fly 5m wing surfing/foiling wing and/or Go Free 9’8 crossover board. Both products offer another option to the paddle when there’re a few puffs in the mix.

If you enjoyed this article be sure to check out what other nuggets of info are in the McConks SUP Knowledge Hub.

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SUP hacks, tips and tricks – post-lockdown gear checks BEFORE heading afloat.

With a modest lifting of lockdown restrictions happening some stand up paddle boarders may be in a position to head back out and make use of their freedom (in England at least). There are some basic SUP gear checks you should carry out, however, if this is going to be your first outing in a while.

SUP Board

Whether you own an inflatable or hard SUP it’s worth giving your platform a once over. Check for dings and/or splits – no matter how small. If you come across damage then fix it pronto. For inflatable SUPers a basic repair kit should’ve been provided that you can use. Hard shell board pilots may need to seek assistance of board repairs unless you happen to adept. Certainly don’t leave dings and hope for the best…

SUP Paddle

Check all connections of your SUP paddle are solid. Sometimes glue can fail causing shafts and blades to become separated. Same with handles. If you own an adjustable type then tighten screws where applicable and ensure there’s no ‘play’ or movement where the extension is. Hairline fractures can also be an issue with paddles. Inspect all parts of your SUP paddle to try and determine if there are any that’ll affect the paddle’s integrity. These can be hard to spot so worth scrutinising multiple times.

SUP fins

Stand up paddle board fins can pick up all kinds of nicks and damage. In particular fin pins that run along the fin box track of a US box can come loose. Also, the fin head where bolts poke through can snap off so have a look/see. If you’re running side bites then check connections here as well. For dodgy looking fins are those needing repair get yourself a new set.

SUP leash, plug and retainer

It should go without saying that a SUP leash should be replaced regularly. Stresses and strains leashes are under require an update frequently. But it’s not just the leash itself. Make sure your Velcro cuff, retainer, swivel and leash plug (especially on hard SUPs) are in good working order.

Other consdierations

Paddling attire is key during the early part of the UK’s SUP season. It may be sunny but waters are chilly and if you venture out for early morning paddles then you may encounter thin frosts. Make sure your SUP apparel is adequate. Layering is always best practice as you can remove as necessary. For immersive paddling, such as SUP surfing where you’re liable to fall, wear a good wetsuit. As with all the above replace/upgrade kit where necessary.

Note: these checks aren’t just for post-lockdown paddling. They should be carried out as standard before going afloat each session.

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Learning to SUP after COVID-19 lockdown – things to consider (in the short term).

Additional pics: Jo Andrews, Richard Smith.

With lockdown restrictions about to be lifted (all being well – as of May 5, 2020) there’s a good chance newbie stand up paddlers will be in a position to get on the water. Total beginners may also have the opportunity, but as we’re all aware, social distancing will still be a thing for a while yet. And that could make getting a SUP lesson tricky.

So could you go it alone and take those first tentative steps with SUP all on your lonesome? Simple answer: yes! It’s a “yes, but” however, There are some points to consider first, particularly safety elements. So if you’re looking to get involved with stand up paddling for the first time, here are the things to consider.

Online SUP resources

Plenty of SUP resources exist online. Simply do a Google search for what you’re after – in this case beginner SUP tips – and you’ll be presented with a raft of results. The trick from your point of view is softy through the ‘noise’. Stick with reputable sources. If it’s a brand, such a McConks, you’re getting info from then you’ll also need to research the company in question – just to make sure. If it’s a media outlet then check who’s actually giving the advice and whether they’ve got pedigree. Yes, this is time-consuming but it’ll stand you in good stead.

Research accredited SUP schools/coaches online

Chances are you’ll come across a bunch of SUP teaching establishments and/or coaches whilst researching online. Most likely there’ll be videos you can watch that’ll give some advice on starting to SUP. You may have to navigate to other platforms, linked to the coach/school in question (such as YouTube), but it’s worth it if you can glean knowledge. As with above make sure the coach/school has the relevant qualifications and endorsements. Check out the map below with some of our recommendations where to get help and instruction.

Choose your stand up paddle board equipment wisely

Board

Length of your SUP isn’t as critical as its volume and width. You’ll need a board that’s got adequate float, so go high volume if unsure. As far as width is concerned this’ll help with stability. Something around 31″ will be fine for average-sized paddlers (smaller SUPers can go a tad less). If you feel like increasing the dimensions of your board then do so. There’s nothing wrong with making life as easy as you can.

Paddle

When you begin an adjustable paddle will be best course of action. This way you’ll be able to learn what length of paddle shaft is optimum for you. Don’t go too short but equally don’t go too long either. When you put a stroke in your knuckles, on top of the handle, should be more or less level with the bridge of your nose. Top tip: remember to paddle with your blade the correct way round. The blade’s rake (or bend) should face forwards.

Leash

Don’t go afloat without a leash! Your leash will keep you in contact with the main form of buoyancy you have: the board! We’ll talk about water states in a moment but either a coiled or straight leash will be fine for placid, flat water.

Paddling apparel

Temperatures are certainly on the increase here in the UK. But don’t forget we can still have chillier days – even in summer. Layering is therefore the best option. A wetsuit works while you’re still in the falling off stage but during warmer periods this may be too hot. There’s plenty of paddling gear available from brands and retailers alike, including McConks. Thinner bottoms and tops, with perhaps a fleece on top and maybe even booties will be the go. If you find you’re getting too sweaty then layering allows removal of garments. Likewise if you start to feel cold then get off the water and warm yourself up! Have a flask of tea or other warm drink ready. Pay attention to how you’re feeling, in terms of body temperature, when afloat.

Additional flotation

If you’re paddling solo then having an additional form of flotation is a good call. Whilst your SUP is primary sometimes leashes can break and paddlers become separated from their board. A buoyancy aid will work well as would an inflatable float belt that fills with air upon deployment, via ripchord and Co2 canister. This is worth having a dig about online for additional info as well.

Emergency communication

A means of communication is essential. Carrying an older or less valuable mobile phone, carefully secured in waterproofing, is worth it. Waterproof VHFs are also available although you’ll need to know how to operate correctly. A whistle and other means of attracting attention ‘on the ground’ should be thought about. Some experienced paddlers also suggest things like flares can be kept onboard your SUP in case of emergency.

Paddling grounds – beginner specific

Where you choose to paddle is extremely important. As much as possible it’d be wise to keep things local and also you’re not looking to cover distance (yet) so keep fairly close to your launch point. The stretch of water you plan on going afloat at should be devoid of all but minimal movement. If it’s coastal then aim for a sheltered venue with little tidal flow. Open seafront locations can also work if the weather’s playing ball. Inland water users need to steer clear of rapid water flow and obstructions/hazards such as weirs, dams and locks.

Weather and tide info

Understanding and knowing weather forecasts and tidal information, for each of your sessions, is something to get your head around. If you’re inexperienced with tides, for instance, then at least know what times high and low water is. And how this affects your location, which is info that can (again) be found online. Also, there are many groups available, such as with Facebook, where seasoned SUPers will only be too happy to impart knowledge about paddling locations. Before you head afloat get an up to date weather report and ideally have some prior understanding of how conditions may affect your chosen location. As with tides, and interpreting this info, weather and local affects info can be sought from experienced paddlers who know your area.

Tell someone

Before you head out (and this applies to any level of paddler) tell someone of your plans: what time you should arrive, how long you’ll be out and what your return ETA is. Stick to the itinerary as well as you don’t want false alarms raised!

Know your limits

We salute anyone who makes moves to get involved with SUP, especially going it alone. It’s definitely a slightly harder route. As much as enthusiasm shouldn’t be curbed, however, you should also be aware of your limits. If it’s blowing dogs off chains, big swells are running, the river’s banks are fit to burst or anything else looks untoward then perhaps can it and wait for another day. You want the best experience possible and in the absence of a qualified instructor to hand calmly calmly, softly softly should definitely be the aim.

Some resources to help you out when learning to SUP without an instructor –

McConks SUP advice for beginners – https://mcconks.com/are-you-a-sup-noob/

Choosing the right SUP – https://mcconks.com/inflatable-sup-shop-premium-affordable-specialist-round-sup/choosing-the-perfect-inflatable-sup-board/

Paddles and paddling – https://mcconks.com/paddles-and-paddling-still-the-most-important-aspects-of-sup/

Windguru (wind and swell forecasts) – https://www.windguru.cz/

Magic Seaweed (swell, surf, wind and tide info) – https://magicseaweed.com/Bracklesham-Bay-Surf-Report/3764/

Met Office weather forecasts – https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/

Big Salty weather info – https://bigsalty.com/en/

RNLI SUP safety and tips – https://rnli.org/safety/choose-your-activity/stand-up-paddle-boarding

McConks paddling rashvests – https://mcconks.com/product-category/technical-sup-clothing-sunglasses-rashvests-recylced/mcconks-rash-vests/

McConks paddle selector – https://mcconks.com/how-to-choose-a-sup-paddle/

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SUP tips, hacks and tricks – Tez Plavenieks, SUP Mag UK editor.

In our previous post a regarding SUP tips, hacks and tricks we asked you to come forward with your little tidbits of info that can help everyday paddlers whatever the skill level. For this one we got SUP Mag UK editor Tez Plavenieks to give us his SUP hack.

Over to Tez who spills the beans on electrical tape and its multiple uses within stand up paddle boarding. Who’d have thought?

Electrical tape can be used for al sorts of things within SUP. Tez suggests carrying a spare roll with you on the water. That way if the connection between you handle and paddle shaft, or paddle shaft and blade becomes damaged you can quickly fix it. It’s not a long term solution but it’ll suffice to keep your session going.

Also, if you’re after extra grip on your paddle you could use shaft wax. That, however, doesn’t always suit everyone as it can be a bit messy. Enter our old pal electrical tape again. Simply wind some tape around the shaft and enjoy better grip/non-slip. You can also customise your paddle with funky electrical tape designs. Leave it a while to adhere before going afloat and you’ll be all set.

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SUP hacks, tips and tricks to help you progress as a stand up paddle boarder – WE NEED YOU!

SUP hacks, tips and tricks to help you progress as a stand up paddle boarder – WE NEED YOU!

It doesn’t matter what standard of paddler you are, there’s always something new to learn. The smallest tidbits of info can often make the biggest differences. How’s the old saying go? ‘Every day’s a school day’. And whether you appreciate cliches or not nothing could be truer when it comes to SUP.

With the above in mind McConks is rolling out an ongoing series of SUP hacks, tips and tricks. (We’ve used the term ‘SUP hack’ for a while so it makes sense to keep on following this path). Moving forwards we’re asking everyone involved with stand up paddle boarding to share their SUP hacks, tips and tricks with us. This’ll hopefully help when we’re able to paddle again.

Pic Credit Ben Arthur, Cotswold Water Park Trust

You don’t have to have an associated with McConks SUP either. This is something that’s being flung out to the wider SUP fraternity – after all: ‘knowledge is power‘ (to quote another one of those phrases!).

Whether you be a SUP instructor, brand professional, recreational paddler, fledgeling beginner or other simply whack your phone out and give us a brief explanation of what your SUP hack/tip is, in video form if possible, but just telling us is fine as well. It can be anything! And it can be more than one; you may have plenty. McConks will then add this to our weekly SUP hacks/tips series that we’ll publish here on the site. Of course, whoever contributes will receive full credit. We can add links and mentions where necessary to throw the favour back your way.

So, get your SUP hack thinking hat and get in touch with yours.

First up we have McConks’ brand owner Andy’s kids giving you their sage stand up paddle boarding advice.

You’ll find loads more essential stand up paddle board knowledge by hitting up the McConks Knowledge Hub page.

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Keep on keeping on – how to stay stand up paddling with COVID-19 causing disruption

SUP sunrise

Keep on keeping on – how to stay stand up paddling with COVID-19 causing disruption

We appreciate that for some stand up paddling may be a no go for the time being. If you’re affected by complete lockdown, as many are in the world, then leaving your house/flat isn’t going to happen in the short term. If, however, you can get out for a float close to your house without coming into contact with anyone – and can do so safely – then why not?

Go free wing SUP board

Before you jump in though, there are a few questions to answer and safety points to consider.

Can I get to the put-in with minimal (if any) contact with others?

Self-isolating means just that: avoiding contact. If reaching your paddling destination will result coming into contact with others then we’d say avoid it. If you need to use public transport it’s almost certainly a no. But if you’re confident you can avoid others, then load up.

Am I likely to be paddling with others?

Is your SUP spot a popular put-in? Do others regularly paddle here? Maybe you should be thinking of an alternative, quieter launch location (although one that isn’t risky). Whilst being on the water away from other paddlers isn’t as bad as being hemmed inside a building, we’d still suggest you go it alone, or with another person that you’re already in contact with, to preserve the self isolation requirement.

SUP safety – you need to consider it!

Paddling on your lonesome, whilst idyllic in some respects, does come with risk. If you are paddling totally by yourself, and if there’s nobody about and should you get into difficulty then if the proverbial hits the fan you’re going to need a means of raising the alarm, among other things… This is the list of things you should consider:

Make sure you’ve checked all your kit for signs of wear and tear. If anything needs replacing, repairing or patching then do so before you launch.

Consider dawn patrols and end of day sessions when it’s usually at its quietest. Just remember to finish before the light fades.

Tell someone of your plans, when you’re due to begin and when you’re due back.

Definitely wear a leash – the correct one for the environment you’re paddling in (coiled leash fixed to waist belt in rivers for instance).

Wear additional flotation, whether that be a buoyancy aid or inflatable float aid worn on your hip such as a Restube or similar.

Carry a means of contact such as a mobile phone in a waterproof bag. Maybe even a VHF radio if you have the appropriate training/understanding of how to use it.

Pack and stow a fresh change of clothing aboard your SUP in case of dunking and/or temperature change. Being able to add layers quickly is a must.

Start your session wearing the appropriate amount of clothing. If you’re carrying a drybag then just as with being able to add layers removing clothing is also worth considering if it gets too warm.

Avoid challenging conditions. Paddling alone in such environments, where things are more likely to go pear-shaped, isn’t wise.

Get an up to date weather forecast and understand what conditions may be incoming during your time afloat. Plan your session accordingly and give yourself enough time to get in and out BEFORE any bad weather hits. If it looks particularly grotty then switch your days around.

If paddling on tidal waters then know tide times and how the ebb and flow affects your chosen location.

Where possible stick to tried and tested destinations that you’re familiar with. Now’s not the time to test your mettle in a new arena that potentially has hazards you aren’t aware of.

Be aware of water temperatures. At time of writing (March 2020) waters are at their coldest. Cardiac shock is a real danger if you happen to fall in the drink and your body’s not used to it. See point above about wearing correct paddling attire.

Use your common sense and know your limits. It’s been used before but the phrase: ‘if in doubt don’t go out’ rings true at all times. Especially now in these uncertain times.

Finally, enjoy your stand up paddling. Now more than ever chance to indulge in something fun and physical will take your mind off the world’s problems, even if just for a short while.

Let us know if you have any other tips for making your SUPing successful when self-isolating.

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SUP hack: separating a stuck stick

Stuck mast
Image credit http://howtowindsurf101.com/get-mast-unstuck/

Windsurfers have been battling with this problem for years. How to separate to pieces of carbon fibre/fibreglass that have seized up after a bit of neglect.

 

And the same problem happens with split paddles.  Salt or sand can get between the male and female connectors when putting them together and make separation after use almost impossible.  And the problem is even worse with alloy paddles.  Saltwater can react with metal and actually fuse the pieces together.

So firstly, prevention is better than cure. So make sure you keep your connectors clear of sand and salt water as far as possible.  Not always possible in a shoreline gale, but try.  And make sure you separate your paddle as soon as possible after finishing, clean it with freshwater, and always keep it in its protective bag.

And mud, grit, sand, saltwater can all get into the connector if you have a loose connection, so keep your connector as tight as possible (without overtensioning!)

But, sometimes, after a paddle, we don’t always have the energy to properly washdown the kit.  You just chuck the paddle in the back of the van in one piece, with good intentions to wash it down and separate it when you get home.  But when you get home it’s late, you need dinner and a beer, so you leave it until Monday.  And Monday turns to Tuesday, and before you know it a week has gone past and the paddle is now stuck firm.  So, what do you do?

So assuming you’ve enlisted the help of friends and tried brute force, twisting and yanking, the next thing to try is lubrication.

Letting washing up liquid seep into the connection overnight is often enough to allow enough movement for twisting and yanking on day two.  If it’s not looser on day two, then leaving it soaking with washing liquid any longer won’t work.

So the next thing to try is hot and cold.   Put the kettle on, and also fill a bowl with ice and water.  Once the kettle has boiled, poor the icy cold water over the part of the shaft that has the male connector, and then the boiling water over the female connector.  If you’re able then poor the icy water inside the paddle (this is sometimes possible with 3 piece paddles).  And then resort to twisting, yanking and pulling again.  Using strap handles to get a better grip on the stick often yields dividends.  And make sure to keep enough in the kettle to make yourself a cuppa in celebration or commiseration!

If this doesn’t work, things are getting desperate.   You’re now getting into the territory of methods that might damage your stick.

You can repeat the above replacing the icy water with freeze spray (available from most good hardware shops)

Trying to bend the paddle enough to slide a butter knife between the two section can work.  Using the knife as a lever to prise the two sections far enough apart enough to allow lubricant or freeze spray to penetrate more thoroughly can also work, but you risk damaging the carbon fibre at the end of the sections.

The very last thing to try is using a vice to hold the upper section firm (use a teatowel to protect the shaft as best you can, but there is a real risk of damaging the stick now!), and twist the blade with all your strength.

If all of this hasn’t worked, the you’ve got a veritable sword in the stone.  Then all you can do is take a saw to the shaft.  Sawing through the male section will hopefully allow you to work the stuck male section out from the inside, and then at least leave you with an undamaged female section.  Obviously this is your very last resort.  Unless you know King Arthur.