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SUP for wheelchair users – McConks’ Mega lending a helping hand.

Pics: Steve Nelson

It’s not always easy for disabled people wanting to get involved with stand up paddle boarding. There are lots of logistics and safety points to tick off and with every disability different, and the way it affects each individual, no ‘blueprint’ exists for getting afloat. Yet, where there’s a will there’s a way…

We know a few McConks aficionados getting stuck in and through ingenuity and perseverance are helping disabled paddlers get involved and making it happen. In this case, we’re talking about Steve Nelson who’s adapted the McConks Mega to accommodate a wheelchair, as you can see in the accompanying images.

You can see how Steve’s used the handles of the Mega to attached a ratchet strap which has then been tightened thereby securing the wheelchair to the board’s deck. It helps the Mega is so big with built in leeway of volume and width (plenty of it!). Needless to say the system works well even with additional paddlers loaded up for team paddling fun! Smiles all round.

All in we doff our cap to Steve for investing the time in getting this working and opening up SUP up to a wider audience. Nice one.

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McConks & Sporting NRG: delivering SUP opportunities to schools/colleges, underprivileged and disabled kids 2021.

McConks is super happy to be working with sporting/outdoor opportunities providing Sporting NRG for 2021’s SUP season. As of the last few days we’ll be providing stand up paddle boarding equipment the company will be using to deliver sessions to schools/colleges, underprivileged and disabled children.

McConks has always tried to be involved with institutions and set ups such as this as we feel strongly about giving young people opportunities. We hope many youths will benefit from having access to stand up paddle boarding. Those of us who SUP regularly all appreciate the benefits of floating about atop a board with a paddle in hand.

If your an organisation that does similar to Sporting NRG and are looking at delivering stand up paddle boarding next season then get in touch as McConka would be interested to hear from you and discuss the possibility of working together.

For more info on Sporting NRG and what they offer hit the following link – https://sportingnrg.com/

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Making SUP your lifestyle – progression for life.

You may have found stand up paddle boarding for the first time this year – in which case, welcome along! Alternatively, it could be you’ve been dabbling for a while, albeit sticking with the basics and what you know. SUP, however, is a diverse beast with plenty of pathways to follow. Its versatility is renowned which is one of the reasons it holds so much attraction.

It hardly needs pointing out but stand up paddle boarding can be taken in so many directions, which is its beauty. Floating about, mere yards from the shore, is one thing (and shouldn’t be sniffed at) but there’s a big wide world out there and stand up‘s one of the best tools for making good use of all these watery scenarios you come across.

But what’s lifestyle? More specifically what’s SUP lifestyle?

We’ve seen it often in 2020: new recruits purchasing their first set ups and having a bit of fun in the sun. Perfect! On from that, however, is arming yourself with the knowledge of what else stand up paddle can deliver. Then it’s a case of doing the thing – whatever ‘the thing’ may be.

From there the addiction sets in. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what that catalyst looks like. It could your first wave ride. Possibly you enjoy that initial night out in the wilds, camping under the stars having navigated your SUP round that far off bend. Perhaps it’s none of these and is simply about standing on water. That being its own unique trait that serves, none the less, to suck you in.

Moving forwards you begin engineering yours (and your family’s if you have one) life to allow paddling time whenever the window of opportunity opens. Forecast data’s perused, checked and analysed; kit set up for the impending adventure; chatter is filled with talk of boards and paddles, and your media consumption very much reflects your SUP habit. There’s nothing wrong with any of this either…

Stand up paddle boarding can be a life long dedication. Practising the art at any opportunity means you’re most likely ‘into it’ enough to call it your lifestyle. Cheesy surfisms aside if SUP‘s become all consuming then embrace it further. After all, what’s not to like? Free enjoyment of the outdoors whilst partaking in (fun) physical activity. Time to get involved and make it your lifestyle too if you haven’t done already…

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Rock and Water Adventures – doggy and winter paddling shenanigans aboard McConks iSUPs.

With cooler weather closing in you need to trust your stand up paddle board gear. You don’t want to lose faith in equipment that could potentially save your life, as well as provide fun. You certainly don’t want it failing when the weather’s inclement. 100% confidence in gear is key, as Rock and Water Adventures tell us.

Paddling on lakes brings its own chill with water through winter dropping in temperature much more than coastal locations. So we’re chuffed when we get feedback like this. So thanks Paul Smith for your comments. We aim to produce the best quality SUP equipment and this tells us we’re on the right path.

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Wild Carrot One Wheel SUP travel – the only way to get to your put in!

How do you access your stand up paddle boarding put in? We’d assume by car, van, or truck. Maybe you cycle, towing your gear behind. Or perhaps you just walk (if you’re lucky enough to live close enough to water). How about this method from the Wild Carrot crew?

After nabbing a One Wheel (a self balancing single wheel personal transporter – a bit like a Segway skateboard) WC decided to put theirs to good use in tandem with a spot of stand up paddle boarding. And Hey Presto! the result is as you can see in the vid.

Nice work guys! How do you do yours?

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Winter’s for white water! – McConks river SUP toys to make the most of it.

Any river rat, white water runner or huck monster knows winter’s the best time of year for scoring big flow lines and ending your stand up paddle sesh with a huge grin. Whilst white water SUP is still relatively under the radar there’s no question how much fun chasing rapids, weirs and drops can be. And actually it doesn’t need to be as gnarly/hardcore as that makes out. Even mellow white water can be super fulfilling.

So why is the off season best for this kind of stand up paddle boarding? Well, simply put, it rains more in winter. And it’s said rain that fills up your local river and gets those hydraulics working. (As we’ve said before SUPing in the rain is definitely applicable, and this proves it). In summer water levels tend to drop significantly, to the point you’d most likely be scraping the bottom should you attempt a line. But as we head into November proper the heavens will open (in fact, they already have if you take the recent October half term as evidence) and pretty soon it’ll be sluicing down those geological scars in the land, swelling to deeper levels, in turn enticing any white water aficionado into the action.

McConks identified the need for specific white water SUP gear early on. Many McConks fans come from river running backgrounds. And we ourselves (Family McConks) live close to river put ins, as many will be aware. We therefore created a raft of SUP equipment to cater for all white water tastes. From freestyle, trickster platforms, to river touring boards; if you have an urge to go with the flow (sorry!) then chances are we have SUP equipment to suit your needs.

Currently in stock (as of Nov 3, 2020) are the following –

Go Skate 7’2 river surf SUPAVAILIN STOCK3
Go Wild 9’3 Whitewater SUPAVAILIN STOCK4
Go Wild 9’8 | beginner whitewater SUPAVAILIN STOCK2
9’8 Go Free 2020 crossover wingsurf/surf boardAVAILIN STOCK12
Go Surf 9’2 children’s inflatable SUPAVAILIN STOCK1
Go Anywhere 10’8 inflatable SUPAVAILIN STOCK3
Go Race 12’6 inflatable race boardAVAILIN STOCK7
14 Go Further adventure and touring SUPAVAILIN STOCK3
Go Mega 17 team SUPAVAILIN STOCK

Of course, we should add that many of teh above products aren’t just applicable to white water scenarios. You’ll find plenty of versatility with McConks gear. If you’re unsure of what t choose then give McConks HQ a shout to discuss your requirements.

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McConks new SUP paddle blade graphics – which one’s your fave?

We’re always looking to evolve here at McConks. With this in mind we’ve been tinkering with different SUP paddle blade options, as you can see below.

From a stand up paddle boarding point of view (with emphasis on the standing and paddling bit – even though SUP has evolved to include other forms of propulsion) your paddle is still the defining piece of equipment. We appreciate, however, that as much as paddling performance is required from your ‘engine’ it also has to look decent.

McConks graphics and liveries have been changing over the last few seasons but up until this point, we’d not shone a spotlight on our paddles. So, now we have. But which one do you think’s best? Is the timeless, understated and knocked back version your favourite or do you like something with a bit more pizazz?

Let us know what your preferred design is. You can follow the original Facebook conversation here. Get involved!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/McConksSUPcommunity/permalink/372955963949728/

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Lockdown 2.0: will you still keep paddling? – Facebook SUP group survey results.

Here we go again: back to being confined to barracks as COVID continues to sweep the globe. Just like spring 2020 cases are at such a level that drastic measures are deemed necessary. Unlike spring, however, there’s a lot more knowledge surrounding the virus. So whilst we’re in a tricky situation is Lockdown 2.0 going to mirror that of earlier in the year? And does that mean an end SUP (at least in the short term)?

We already published a post detailing the advice given by the government but here’s a brief reminder list of why you can leave your home, published by The Metro at time of Lockdown 2.0’s announcement October 2020 –

Going to school

Going to work, if you can’t do your job from home

For exercise – there are no limits in place this time

For medical reasons

To escape injury or harm

To shop for food and other essentials

To care for vulnerable people

To volunteer

What was interesting is the SUP public’s response to Lockdown 2.0. We ran a small poll from one of our Facebook groups to get a feel about paddling through. You can see the results in the pie chart below.

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2020: vulnerability, SUP and rediscovering your own backyard.

Based on a true story –

‘If you’re medically vulnerable then 2020 has possibly been considerably tricky. Illness that isn’t seen, unlike physical disability, isn’t often thought about by those not in similar situations. This isn’t a criticism, just an observation. For anyone with ongoing medical issues, however, it’s never too far away from your thoughts. Having had a year to adjust and begin a new way of life, post-hospital period, 2020 was to be a more relaxed affair. COVID obviously had other ideas. Living life at distance before the pandemic, because of vulnerability/susceptibility, has simply continued – and then some!

Whilst being extremely careful, pre-COVID/post-op, some things I could indulge in. For instance, dining out and visiting the local was an often chosen pastime. It’s always been a love rocking up to a pub with a roaring log fire, ‘orrible weather outside, making it all the more cosy once through the door (I’m an old romantic at heart). You may not see it but ‘proper pub’ ambience was something I enjoyed immensely. It’s a similar story with eating out at restaurants and such. That is currently all on hold as even with measures in place it’s an unnecessary risk I can’t/won’t take. It isn’t the fact I may get COVID (although that’s certainly a risk). It’s more about picking up another bug resulting in a hospital visit and therefore bringing me into contact with all manner of infections.

Holidays are another exercise off the agenda. I’ve travelled extensively, for various reasons (not just recreation). But COVID has halted this – even in the UK. At times there were possible windows of opportunity to get away this summer. And even now, as autumn rolls on and winter looms, there’s temptation to get gone – if only for a change of scene. But upon reflection it just isn’t worth it. The angst, fret, worry and possibility of not being able to make the most of even short sojourns makes it a non-starter. So my own backyard it is – at least in the short term.

This all may sound quite depressing. Yet whilst I’ve been confined to barracks it’s not all been doom and gloom. Fortunately I live next to a few different bodies of water. On top of this there’re are some great outdoor spaces that have been ripe for the picking. As this is my home it’s easy to choose times when less people are going to be about and actually get a window with nobody around. It’s also been chance to rediscover my own backyard – it’s surprising what you don’t even know is there or forget about.

Stand up paddle boarding has been epic this year (the irony). With great weather on offer plenty of opportunity for SUP sessions have been made use of. And, again, it’s surprising the amount of paddling routes you can find within a few miles of your house – even if you think you have all of them in your knowledge bank.

As it stands things don’t look like they’re about to change in the short term. But that’s OK as long as I can keep stand up paddling boarding in my own neck of the woods and getting about in the outdoors (locally). I’ll not lie: it’d be super nice to head off on a SUP/surf trip and get amongst decent surf this winter. It’d also be nice to enjoy a family meal out at a local eatery – even nabbing a takeaway coffee. But none of these things are essential in the grand scheme. I and my family have come to realise you don’t need to be schlepping round shops (not that I liked this anyway), or anywhere else like that to be honest. 90% of the places we used to go for supposed ‘essential reasons’ are not missed. It’s more the ‘nice to haves’ if you will that’d bring a nice change to the (sometimes) monotony of COVID Times.

For now doorstep SUP sessions are ‘it’, keeping my head down the rest of the time. I feel for anyone who’s in even more of a tricky situation than this and hope for everyone’s sake that things improves soon. In the meantime, stay safe, enjoy your home and surroundings (if you can) and try not to let it all get you down – sometimes hard I know…’

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Stand up paddle boarding in the snow – yes you can!

There’re no two ways about it: winter’s coming and with that the potential for fluffy white stuff falling from the sky. For some this scenario couldn’t be further from needed whereas others revel in flurries of flakes creating white carpets across our green and pleasant land. It can play havoc with travelling, such a driving in snow. Although with COVID restrictions in place perhaps that won’t be too much of a challenge as there could be less people on the roads?

Some weather forecasts are already modelling and trying to predict what type of winter we’re going to get. It’s impossible, even for the most high tech algorithms, to give a 100% picture of what’s going to happen. That said an indication may be believable – to some degree.

So what’s the suggestion as it stands? With it being a La Nina year, and an 85% probability rating of this lasting through winter, colder dryer conditions may be on the cards. And this could spell snow. For many this will automatically put the kybosh on going anywhere near water and getting afloat. A nice warm fire, cup of tea and a snuggly jumper the preferred option. Yet stand up paddle boarding when there’s snow on the ground is certainly doable.

The fact is: when it’s snowy the air temperatures are actually a bit warmer. Yes, you need it to freeze high up in the atmosphere to actually crystallise the raindrops and turn it to snow. But the blanket cloud that accompanies white stuff actually serves to keep some degree of temperature locked in. And if the sunshine turns on and you get bluebird skies following a dump then you’re on to a winner. The time a dampener may be put on things is if a gale’s blowing in accompaniment. In which case, maybe it’s best to sit it out and wait for a calmer window.

The bottom line, however, is that you can SUP in the snow. With the right protection (water wear) and adhering to SUP safety practises, there’s no reason not to bag a sesh even if fluffy powder’s falling from the sky.

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SUP towboating – another way to ride your stand up paddle board.

We appreciate not everyone has access to high performance wakeboard gear – ski boat and boards. Plus wakeboarding’s actually quite tricky to master, at least when you compare it to SUP towboating. What’s SUP towboating we hear you ask? Simply put it’s being towed behind any kind of motorised craft whilst aboard your stand up paddle board!

The board you use can be any size and the boat can be a simple as a yacht tender, with small outboard, or watersports rescue RIB such as the one being used in the vid below. SUP towboating’s another example of your inflatable stand up paddle board‘s versatility. You don’t always need to be paddling. SUPs can be used for a whole manner of things. As long as your having fun then whatever really goes. Just look at the smile on Mrs McConks’ face!

Sometimes you need to go a little fasterOh such fun!#goskate#wake#lake32#faceplant

Posted by McConks on Sunday, 11 October 2020

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Situational changes and SUP’s healing hand…

Pic: @soulconnectionyogauk

There’s no question: life as it currently stands is extremely tricky. Particularly in light of recent announcements regarding restrictions where you may live. COVID has certainly proved, and continues to, make once simple pleasures all the more hard. This, as has also been widely broadcast, does have an impact on well being and mental health.

At time of writing (Oct 13, 2020) further halts have been placed on situations in certain parts of the country. You can’t lead the life you once did. But hopefully this will revert back soon. In the meantime, as we understand, you can still go for your daily round of exercise. If you’re a stand up paddle boarder then this should be welcome and much needed.

We talked about SUP‘s positive impact on mental health before. With life as it stands there’s definitely an outlet needed to restore some sort of calm and balance. Paddling in the outdoors and simply taking a moment whilst afloat can do wonders and help reset the brain. Winter, of course, can be a harder season to get wet but where there’s a will there’s a way. And it’d be encouraged to make use of opportune windows that open. You can even paddle at night, as we talked about in this article, with the right preparation and planning.

It’s a proven fact that exercise, no matter how small an amount, will boost those positive endorphins in your brain. Simply walking briskly for 20 minutes can help immensely. And if you can walk then why not jog? It therefore stands to reason that stand up paddle boarding will have similar effects. So when you can grab your paddle and head off for a blast; you’ll be glad you did.

By the looks of things this winter’s going to be arduous in some ways. Yet hopefully there’ll be time for a SUP sesh at points which should be taken advantage of. Make sure you’re equipped with the right gear, such as a decent wetsuit, boots and gloves, and you’ll be sorted for blade action whatever the weather. If stand up paddle boarding can help you cope with what’s going on in the world, and you’re able to get wet, then do it. We appreciate mental health issues are different for everyone, but if you’re able grab those SUP sessions when you can.

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More McConks prototyping ahead of 2021′ SUP season.

We already posted this to the McConks Facebook page. But as we’re super excited about new 2021 stand up paddle boarding developments we’re shouting about it again. Not ones to sit on our laurels the McConks team is forever looking at new ideas, concepts and determining what’s viable. We’d love to be in a position where we could offer ALL the toys but sometimes that isn’t possible. Yet, an ever changing market, with different wants/needs for the consumer means we do need to keep on top of things.

To date we’ve already designed and sold a one off hard race SUP. And currently we’re doing our thing with a hard windSUP prototype. And then there’s this, which is being tweaked as we speak. Suffice to say we’re pretty excited about what could manifest. The outcome of this tinkering could prove to be extremely special.

A sneak peak at something we're working on in our spare time…Still need to finalise the transitions, smooth out some of the lines, and the build in the concaves in the hull, but it's coming along nicely.#flatwater25#gofaster#designed#UK#madeineurope #innovate#carbon#dugout#newfor2021

Posted by McConks on Saturday, October 3, 2020

Andy comments: ‘Still need to finalise the transitions, smooth out some of the lines, and the build in the concaves in the hull, but it’s coming along nicely.’ So, hands up if you’re interested!

Don’t forget to get in touch for 2021 season pre-order discounts if you’re a watersports club, coach or school that deals with either stand up paddling, windsurfing or both.

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Winter SUP travel – if you could where would you go?

It hardly needs pointing out that travel is currently rather tricky due to the global pandemic going on. Even domestic trips are a little more headache inducing than they were. Yet autumn/winter is a time when many peeps get gone. Some choose to head for snow caped peaks while others tend to prefer sunnier climes. As the UK’s weather turns and Jack Frost begins to bite where would you be heading to get you warm water SUP fix? Here’re a few suggestions from our side.

Cornwall, England

Yep, we kick this off with a good ole UK location that’s been popular for donkey’s. Summer especially sees hordes of holidaymakers (2020 being a case in point) heading Kernow way. But off season sojourns to the first county in England (or is that the last?) can be supreme. Nailing it can means keeping an eye on forecasts and heading SW when a window opens. Even in winter sunny, warmer days can be snagged. And if you manage to score this with a pulse of offshore surf then we guarantee you’ll be smiling from ear to ear. The SUP touring/adventure options can be great as well.

The Canary Islands, Spain

Much like England the Canaries can be hit or miss with winter sun, albeit always in a slightly warmer vein. Being in close proximity to Blighty means traditionally when a weather break appears it was pretty simple to hop on a plane and head across to Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Tenerife or one of the less known isles. Whilst the archipelago does get its fair share of warmer off season weather the islands boast some stunning surfing action with flat water SUP options being also rather good. Each island has its own personality so it’s a case of choosing which suits you best.

Maui, Hawaii

Perhaps Maui is on your bucket list? If you didn’t already know this is where stand up paddle boarding in modern form hails from. It doesn’t stop there though. The ‘Valley Isle’ is a true watersports’ lovers playground with endless options for getting wet atop whatever craft you feel inclined. The culture is more laid back that the Big Island, and in large parts typically Polynesian. If you’ve never been it’s well worth the long trek but be warned: you may never want to leave!

Barbados, West Indies

One of the more densely populated West Indian islands Barbados never the less is a ‘go to’ destination for surfing, SUP, windsurfing and kitesurfing for many looking to escape the UK winter. With challenging but doable conditions it’s typifies the Caribbean experience with plenty of Rasta culture and Carib vibes in effect. The Caribbean Sea side of the island boasts bubblegum blue waters and a cosmopolitan feel whilst the rugged Atlantic facing coast is much more mellow and somewhere you can get lost for a few weeks but still indulge in a spot of SUP.

The Hebrides, Scotland

For our last location we’re bringing it back to this neck of the woods. For many the Hebridean islands are paradise personified. While not quite as warm as the already mentioned Caribbean its vistas, natural colours and light can rival the Tropics without question. White sandy beaches, azure seas, cobalt coloured coves and stunning green rolling hills/mountainsd leave many in awe. It’s also an awesome destination for stand up paddle boarding – whatever your flavour of SUP.

Where’s your favourite stand up paddle board location?

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McConks’ Go Anywhere 10’6 iSUP to feature in Men’s Health UK magazine!

We’re pretty stoked about this as you can imagine. For anyone in the know our feelings about ‘paid for SUP media reviews – whereby the publication in question asks for advertising support for equipment reviews – is something we feel strongly about. After all, if you’re searching for impartial opinion how can this be the case when you’re being asked for money in return for a test report. It’s hardly going to be unbiased as the publication isn’t going to slate the gear in fear of said advertising bill not being paid and disappearing all together.

Therefore when Men’s Health UK magazine contacted us out of the blue to ask if we’d consider sending them a McConks Go Anywhere 10’6 inflatable stand up paddle board with no commitment needed on our part we obviously jumped at the chance.

We’ll not bang on about the health benefits of SUP and why being featured in such a magazine is great. SUP‘s benefits are widely reported – that’s one of the reasons you all participate. It’ll be interesting to see the actual write up so watch this space. We’ll let you know as soon as we do!

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Get some SUP ahead of October half term – (some) McConks boards still in stock…

It might seem like only recently kids went back to school but October, and therefore October half terms, is edging ever closer. That means there’ll be some time for SUP still left before winter proper kicks in. For anyone not already owning their own equipment and considering a purchase McConks still has some boards, paddles and accessories in stock.

11’4 (a small number left), 10’6 & 10’8 (a handful available). Brand new 9’8 Go Free crossover boards – perfect for paddling and wing if you feel like making the most of autumn winds. These are super stable, given their size, and perfect for surfing, learning to wing SUP and paddling on flat water.

Have a look at McConks’s other products also, such as the Go Sail inflatable windsurf sail – a great way to get on the water – plus all the paddles and accessories that are there to help with your SUP life. As always, if you have any queries then give us a shout on email, messenger or phone. We’re only happy to help you round out 2020 in style.

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New product alert! 9’8 Go Free wingsurf/surf/SUP crossover board now available.

Here at McConks we’re always evolving and developing our range of products. As many will know one of the big things in watersports at the moment are wings – more specifically wing foiling, albeit with a smaller push on the wing surfing/SUP, non-foiling side of the discipline. And it’s the latter where the McConks 9’8 Go Free strapless wing/SUP crossover board comes in.

With similar trait to our previous Go Free designs in wing surf/SUP mode the idea is to use the provided upright freeride fin in breezy conditions. With enough power it lifts from here and gets quite a wriggle on. The hard rubber release edge on the tail further aids efficient forwards propulsion for those who fancy zipping along. Pair the 9’8 with McConks’ Go Fly wing and you’ve got a killer combo.

For those who still want to paddle in conventional SUP form have no fear. It’s still very much possible to be a stand up paddle boarder atop the Go Free 9’8. Simply swap out the freeride fin and you have an extremely agile and nimble platform for river SUPing, surf SUP and it even does OK on the flat.

Hit the following link for more info on the McConks 9’8 Go Free or get in touch with any questions – https://mcconks.com/shop/inflatable-sup-stand-up-paddle/wing-boards/mcconks-98-go-free-2020-crossover-wingsurf-surf-board/

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SUPs for surfing – how it’s never been easier to learn how to surf with a stand up paddle board.

Whilst teaching techniques across watersports have evolved massively there’s still a tricky learning curve for anyone looking to learn how to surf in conventional mode. Surfing has mass appeal, perhaps because of its associated ‘cool’ lifestyle which stand up paddle boarding doesn’t quite own (yet). Boardshorts, bikinis, beaches and barrels coupled with blaring sunshine – you know the deal. So many buy into this, even if the UK’s surf scene is anything but Californian.

For those choosing to actually learn how to surf there are certainly applicable ‘tools’ available. Boards suitable for beginners with an experienced coach at a venue with reliable swell will put anyone wanting to get to grips in good stead. The fact is, however, Atlantic juice can be quite powerful for the uninitiated (even broken white water) and a decent learner surf board is still pretty low volume and relative unstable.

Enter stand up paddle boards, inflatable or hard – it doesn’t really matter which. Due to their oversize nature and additional volume SUPs can be good platforms for learning to surf without a paddle. Their dimensions mean you only need a mere dribble of chop to get it propelling forwards. As such, not only are SUPs way easier to get the feeling of riding waves your choice venue suddenly opens up. What mightn’t even be classed as a surfing location is suddenly on the agenda with a stand up paddle board. And as great as this is for adults it’s also bang on for kids.

One of the hardest things when learning to surf is the pop up, or getting to your feet. A surfboard needs momentum and because of its smaller dimensions requires more power to move forwards. In contrast stand up paddle boards jet off at merest sniff of a wave and reach top speed quicker. This instantly gives stability. Add to the mix a SUP‘s wider deck and more voluminous shape and you suddenly have a platform that allows the practising of those previously tricky pop ups more often. Repeating, repeating and repeating again(with the odd rinsing) is the only way to dial in any kind of technique.

We appreciate out test subject in the associated pics isn’t standing. But he’s pretty little (young) and happy to just have fun gliding along on his belly. The point being, however, that at barely three years old our little chap is getting used to swell shoving him along at speed. Intuitively he’s trimming the board to avoid nose dives (or pearling as the surfing term describes it) and is ready to get to his feet. We actually have it on good authority that blondy can stand up with a little help from dad perched on the board’s tail.

The more often the above is practised the more muscle memory can lock in so when the rider in question transfers to a surfboard, rather than SUP, popping up becomes more doable. Learning to surf on a stand up paddle board therefore helps lay foundational skills much quicker in a lot of cases than learning to surf on a Swelly (as beginner surfboards are often referred to). When the time is right transferring these skills should be much easier. Likewise, if he/she never goes near an actual surfboard then we’re pretty there’ll be no loss of fun. After all, the term ‘surfing’ describes the act of riding a wave and however you decide to do it’s all good in our book.

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Fenwick Ridley: SUP (and swim) river missions for charity – Kielder to Quayside mission complete!

If you haven’t come across Fenwick Mark Ridley then he’s a determined type who likes a challenge, as can be seen from what he gets up to fun, but all in the name of charity. Fenwick loves a bit of wild swimming but for a reason. And not placid water either, as can be seen from updates on his YouTube channel. Nope, Fenwick prefers it when there’s flow to really test his mettle.

The bearded fella also indulges in a bit of SUP. We say ‘a bit’ as paddling source to sea – Kielder (Hexham) to Quayside (Newcastl-upon-Tyne) is a little more than that. It’s 52.6m according to Google maps. From Mark’s Facebook updates we can work out that parts of the route are quite challenging – even on a McConks 14′ stand up paddle board. But as we’ve already said he’s a determined chap. Suffice to say he managed the feat and topped out at Newburn Bridge yesterday (Sept 2, 2020), even having had an equipment malfunction (snapped paddle) towards the end of his run.

It’s still an awesome achievement, however, and we salute you wholeheartedly Fenwick. For donations and further details head over to Fenwick’s Just Giving page here – https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/fenwickridley?fbclid=IwAR3cf-RJbrcc7_Pv4563pBjccdmmveH8LiwNQnntDfyyc5CVIBI42DdsCg4

Stay tuned for more adventures from the man himself…

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Efficient SUP progression – learn to use the stand up paddle gear you have, well.

If you’re a stand up paddler looking to progress, in whatever discipline you choose, then chances are you already own the applicable SUP kit. The problem with progression, however, can be frustration. Frustration at not moving forwards quick enough; frustration of not getting over that plateau efficiently; frustration at lack of consistency. Often the frustrated stand up paddler in question may put it down to their equipment. It’s an easy trap to fall into with much marketing hype doing the rounds on social media and such. Seeing the next best thing and how that’s ‘guaranteed’ to evolved your stand up paddling is ‘selling the dream’ in the most in your face fashion.

Pics, but more likely videos, of that supposed magical piece of SUP gear in action (often a stand up paddle board) is enough to make anybody salivate. Yet what many forget is the paddler using the kit is probably a gifted athlete, whose job it is to SUP and who gets wet on a daily basis. Basically they’re pro and paid to be one.

But we’re all guilty of being lured by the marketing machine. Pretty soon, believing your next purchase will solve all woes, hard earned cash is leaving your wallet and a new, shiny bit of SUP kit is winging its way to you.

We spoken to enough experienced SUP paddlers in our time and they all concur: you can pretty much achieve a lot with your existing gear. Learning how to use it/ride and paddle it well will put you in a great place for progression. Chopping and changing gear isn’t needed. Racers can podium on their current machine and surfers can carve and slide on their trusty 10fter. Learning the ropes and acquiring those much needed paddle skills is something that should be focused on before swapping out your current SUP equipment for the umpteenth time.

Now don’t get us wrong. We’re not suggesting you shouldn’t upgrade. Of course, if you’ve been riding something aimed squarely at beginners then maybe it’s time for change. What we’re suggesting is NOT part exing and buying new SUP gear every couple of weeks. Believe us when we say we’ve seen this happen a lot with SUP over the years. Instead, get on the horse as often as you possibly can. Get involved with varied conditions, focus on technique and consolidate all that knowledge you acquire. Put it into practice and you’ll be winning.

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Is that it? Is 2020’s summer of SUP done? Don’t be daft! Autumn can be a great time of year for paddling.

Looking out the window, with the rain beating down and wind howling, you’d be forgiven for thinking that’s it, all over, done and dusted; Summer of SUP 2020 has gone. But not so fast! It’s still only August and whilst there’s certainly a bit of grotty weather about currently there’s also every likelihood that it’ll pass and we’ll get a decent end of season – an Indian Summer if you will.

Of course, we’re generalising here. And one stand up paddler‘s idyllic is another’s not so great depending where you’re based in the UK. That said, early autumn can often see decent temperatures – possibly more bearable for some than the recent Med like mercury levels – with waters still very much warm. It’s actually this time of year when seas in particular are at their balmiest. Rivers, lakes and canals are pretty good as well.

Also, anyone looking for ‘conditions’, such as better waves for SUP surfing, will find now’s the time. You’re more likely to score proper waves, with offshore winds, in autumn. We’ve talked about sea breezes in the past. The tail end of the year sees less and less of these due to how warm the ocean is, hence why you’re more likely to score glassy SUP sessions.

One fly in the ointment is less daylight. We’re definitely edging towards longer nights. But days will still be the go – right up until end of October for many (unless you’re truly fair weather). And don’t forget: kids will be back at school shortly (COVID allowing) which means potentially additional free time for parents if they can swing it with work.

So now’s not the time to be hanging up your paddle. There’s plenty of SUP time to be wrung from 2020. And even when the depths of winter set in if you pick and choose your times then, as with autumn, you can bag some great sessions.

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The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) recently awarded the ISA (International Surfing Association ) the right to lead SUP at Olympic level – but does anyone care?

Pic: ISA / Sean Evans

Last week The Court of Arbitration for Sport awarded the International Surfing Association the right to lead stand up paddle boarding in its Olympic bid for inclusion. After a long legal battle with the ICF (International Canoeing Federation), who also staked a claim, a decision has been reached, which concerned parties now state will accelerate SUP move forwards in a positive fashion. But does the layman paddler actually care?

For anyone actively competitive in SUP this news will be an interesting victory. Ultimately, whatever anyone says, it’s been an ‘ownership’ battle. But those who consider themselves ‘SUP athletes’ should soon have a clear path to the hallowed Olympic platform – arguably ‘the best of the best arena’ where the elite of each discipline can prove themselves.

The majority of recreational paddlers, however, won’t give two hoots about the above. Stand up paddle boarding is, for the masses, about having fun in the sun, floating about with friends and family and enjoying the outdoors. Serious competition is a world away. Granted, a % of newbies may go on to become SUP athletes, but many won’t.

Having staged successful SUP competitions in the past the ISA does have pedigree in the organisation of stand up paddle board events. Its test as an organisation, and whether the CAS decision was correct, will come down to getting SUP into The Games and delivering on its promise to those who’ve made SUP their life goal. Sponsored riders and SUP professionals need an outlet to prove their worth after all.

For the rest of us, we’ll continue as we’ve done so: enjoying time afloat and paddling waterways of all types. Whether or not stand up appears at The Olympic Games is neither here nor there. It may prick interests should that come to fruition at the time but as it stands, whilst this is indeed a landmark decision, 90% of the SUP population won’t have noticed…

If you do want to find out more then hit the following link – https://www.isasurf.org/isa-welcomes-landmark-decision-by-the-court-of-arbitration-for-sport-cas-to-award-governance-of-standup-paddle-to-the-isa-at-olympic-level/?fbclid=IwAR0WfTp-jxvqAqeWjgYZklmxMPgb7mPAexaeeQULu76XwB4PGM9OoaYRwFQ

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Chilly season – preparing for a winter of SUP.

Yes, we know it’s currently baking in the UK, and winter seems like a way off. But it isn’t really. We’re already into mid-August and soon it’ll be autumn. This isn’t to sound negative. In fact, for many autumn and winter can be the best seasons for stand up paddle boarding – particularly if you want ‘conditions’ and not just flat water. But now’s the time to prepare – you don’t want to get left out in the cold (literally) come time.

Make sure you have good quality paddling attire. A decent wetsuit or drysuit if necessary will stand you in good stead. Mostly, you get what you pay for. Of course, there are deals (particularly if you shop around now) but a decent wetty does mean you have to stump up a little. But you’ll be thankful for it. Also, make sure this part of your kit is durable and robust. When clambering on and off boards you don’t need your wetty getting a hole in it!

Gloves, hood and booties should also be considered. They need to be comfortable and ideally not impede movement. Of course, to some degree, wearing gloves, hood and booties isn’t as ‘free’ as paddling in just boardshorts. That’s why getting the correct fit and type which suits you is important.

Check over your paddle. If you’ve been afloat plenty this summer you may have picked up scuffs and potentially nicks on the shaft, handle or blade. For those using an adjustable it’s worth looking at the locking mechanism. Any SUPer needing to replace their paddle should definitely be looking to before winter. It’s your engine and main form of propulsion so definitely shouldn’t be overlooked.

Damage to your stand up paddle board will need sorting if you’ve picked anything up – whether hard SUP or inflatable. Fins also. Wear and tear is par for the course unfortunately but is usually easily fixable. You may also be considering an upgrade that’s more in line with the SUP performance you’re after based on the conditions you plan on tackling.

Leashes are another item that tend to show signs of use and therefore need replacing in time. Having a worn leash snap on you while out in the wild isn’t pleasant so make sure you sort before too long. And don’t forget the leash retainer as this can also wear.

Any flotation aids should be checked over before doing battle with Mother Nature. Whether that be a float belt, that self inflates, a PFD or buoyancy aid all of which need to be in good working order. Any other peripheral gear like helmets as well. You may not have had need for these during summer so definitely worth having a look/see.

All in being prepared for winter stand up paddling is the best course of action. If you are then we’re pretty sure you’ll have a fruitful season.

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Swim for it! – when SUP goes Pete…can you?

There’s a lot out there about SUP safety; wearing a leash; wearing the correct least for your chosen paddling environment; wearing a buoyancy aid of PFD; making sure you actually wear your leash and know how to inflate your flotation device if it requires pulling a chord and so on. But what about if your leash fails? Or worse still your inflatable bursts – it’s not common but has happened in the past.

The fact is, if you’re heading much further than a few metres away from the bank or shoreline then you need to be prepared to swim. So the question you have to ask is: ‘can I feasibly swim my way back to safety from the distance I choose to paddle away from land?’.

Add to the mix weather, such as chop, swell, wind, current and tide and it becomes a whole different ball game. Placid water’s one thing but when you chuck elements into the mix that seemingly not far a distance may take on gargantuan mileage. Consider that fatigue may have set in and panic, which also saps strength, and the danger can be real.

Now don’t get us wrong. Were not trying to scaremonger. This is simply a consideration. For most of your SUP career you’ll be readily in touch with the best form of flotation (your board) without mishap. But we all know ‘stuff’ happens so keeping safety aspects in mind is always worthwhile.

Of course, you can offset chance by checking your gear’s in good working order and replacing what’s not. Don’t wait for the inevitable to happen if your leash looks worn. And make sure you patch that ding if needs be rather than run the risk of further damage.

But back to original point and swimming. The golden rule is don’t venture further than you can swim back, as already mentioned above. Paddling with others is also worthwhile so as to mitigate risk further. Stand up paddling is a safe enough sport that when practising with due diligence in mind won’t see things go all Pete Tong.

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Splash ‘n’ dash SUP tips – how to make the most of sessions if you’re short on time.

Not all of us have oodles of time to paddle. In fact, with the nation being encouraged back to work post-COVID lockdown, time may be in short supply full stop. Yet you still want to make use of your spangly new SUP toy whenever you can. Particularly as we’re not quite done with summer yet and we’re sure there’ll be a return to sun soon.

Splash ‘n’ dashing has long been a thing with strapped for time watersports nuts. We know a few riders who practise multiple disciplines who have to use this method to score floats during busy periods. McConks asked what their top tips for splash ‘n’ dash stand up paddle boarding sessions are.

Keep it inflated (if it’s an iSUP)

This is perhaps rather obvious but if you’re the owner of an inflatable stand up paddle board then keep it inflated. Most good air boards will cope with this so have no fear. Then there’s no faffing about trying to blow it up when you have a small window. Chuck it on the roof or in the van and off you go.

Have all your kit in one place

Keep your paddling gear in one place. Make sure your paddle, board, leash, fin and wet gear is all in the same space ready to go at a moment’s notice. There’s nothing worse than trying to locate your wetsuit, for instance, when you’re aiming to get a move on. For additional speed keep your fins locked in and your leash attached.

Stay local

If you’ve suddenly an hour to SUP now’s not the time for swanning off on long winded paddle missions. Get to your put in quick smart, get wet, then get gone. You may have aspirations of coastal paddling but if that’s not doable stick to the canal.

Don’t dither

Upon arrival at your chosen paddling location it’s time to lock and load, quick smart. Grab your gear, suit up and off you go. Dithering about on the bank, umming and ahhing whether to get in not wastes time. You’ve got the opportunity so make the most of it.

Have a plan (in your head at least)

Knowing a SUP spot (well) is key. Having recce’d the area previously you should have a good idea of how far you can paddle before having to turn around and come back. Or, if it’s a circular route, you’ll be aware of how long it takes. Having a loose plan will see you maximise your session.

Don’t be tempted off your chosen path

Whilst knowing the layout of your area is important splash ‘n’ dash sessions aren’t the ones for checking out new routes – save that for another day when you have more time.

Know the weather

If weather can make or break your time afloat then know, understand and be able to interpret what forecast information means for your window of paddling opportunity. When Mother Nature’s being a pain look at alternatives or in some cases abort altogether. Better to sit it out with unfavourable conditions in the mix, top up brownie points and live to SUP another day…

What are your top tips for splashing ‘n’ dashing?

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SUP weather trend week July 14, 2020.

Why have we been talking about the weather in recent posts? Mainly because we appreciate not everyone will look at forecasts, and interpret them, in the same way as more experienced paddlers. For instance, this week looks set to be cool, with a degree of rain but (mostly) light winds. Some may hear the word ‘cool’ and think it isn’t a time for SUP needing, instead, wall to wall sunshine and hot temperatures. This isn’t actually true. Stand up paddle boarding weather in the UK is a temperamental mistress to say the least, which is why there’s plenty of apparel available for when conditions are less than ideal. Technical SUP wear will keep you insulated and out there even when it’s not Med-like. And let’s be honest, this is UK summer time so even with a spot of moisture in the atmosphere it’s relatively warm and as such you shouldn’t be deferred. If you’re working up a sweat whilst SUPing then it’ll serve to cool you down as well.

But back to actual weather and broadly winds will be light going by Met Office predictions. And the good news is thermometer readings look likely to rise again come the weekend. So if you’re really fair weather then there’s light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.

Warming up later in the week

After a cooler couple of days for many of us during the middle of this week, temperatures will be on the rise again from Thursday. Feeling very warm in the south by the weekend with temperatures reaching the high 20s Celsius for some of us ?️.

Posted by Met Office on Monday, July 13, 2020

If you have any questions about paddling in ‘weather’ and what technical SUP apparel may benefit your paddling then get in touch.

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Is SUP really that good a workout?

You’ve probably read all the articles and heard those supposedly in the know suggesting how good stand up paddle boarding is as a workout. Improve core strength, stretch out those joints and muscles build stamina, reduce stress and increase your Vit D hit.

Whilst the above is true there are certain caveats to apply.

There’s no question in our minds that if you’re looking for a mental release and a way to ease stress and/or comabt mental health issues then going afloat is good practice. We’ve written a few articles about the subject of mental health and how SUP helps but there’s plenty more info online – particularly if you search for surfing and mental health. SUP isn’t quite the same as surfing but there’s synergy for sure.

Vitamin D top ups are also an easy one to achieve when you’re out paddling, even if it’s a little grey and overcast. Simply being outdoors, in the fresh air and doing something physical will have positive effects. If the sun shines then happy days.

Moving on to the hype surrounding core strength development, stamina and so on… Most people’s SUP revolves around being afloat not too far away from shore. Some may choose to cover a little distance but it’s usually done so in a mellow manner – putting the hammer down, so to speak, isn’t really on the agenda. Stand up paddle boarding with regard to 90% of those who do it is about fun rather than training.

In this guise SUP certainly does deliver on the exercise front but not necessarily to the extent a gym session would do. You may, over time, find a difference in terms of your stamina, core strength and even body shape. But if you really want to use stand up paddle boarding as an exercise medium, bluntly put, you need to put the effort in – just as with every other type of training.

For most though SUP is an activity that’s done a few times per week when schedules allow. If you really want to use stand up paddle boarding to make a difference then the amount you paddle needs to go up considerably. Again, to use the gym analogy, just like you would if visiting one of those establishments.

The media has a way of ‘bigging up’ things to ‘sell the dream’. Stand up certainly has its fair share of toned, bronzed body perfection but it’s got way more in terms of realistic, every day paddlers who do the thing for fun rather than all serious like. As we said above, you’ll almost certainly see the positive benefits of doing something physical but don’t believe all you see, hear and read in terms of SUP hype.

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McConks SUP: a helping hand, where possible…

It’s not just general mental well-being that stand up paddle boarding can help with, there are plenty of other well being areas that SUP can benefit. For instance, we have it on good authority that the right kind of stand up paddle board can encourage people with behavioural problems, or with autism (for example) to enjoy and gain from being on the water and outdoors.

We were speaking to a customer about about kit yesterday. Whilst talking he let us know that the reason for purchasing our super wide and stable 9’8 whitewater beginner board wasn’t for the more normal whitewater reasons, but to have a super stable platform for their autistic child. And then he said something that made all the hard work of the last few years worth it. Feedback like this really made us go a little soft and gooey inside, and Andy was actually speechless.

We’re thrilled with our 9’8 whitewater board, it’s changed our lives! We wanted a wider board for our autistic son, to get him on the water and to calm him down. It’s really worked and it has really changed all of our lives.

We don’t often get the chance to change people’s lives in such a dramatic way! Getting feedback like this makes what we do, the long hours on the phone to customers, suppliers, businesses all the more worthwhile. SUP, from our point of view, is about enriching lives for the better and if we can help someone achieve this then that’s beyond rewarding.

Disclaimer: This isn’t to say that SUP will work for everyone’s situation. We’re 100% not experts, and we can’t guarantee this works for everyone. If, however, we can help in any way by providing SUP gear to benefit people’s lives then this is a good thing.

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The week ahead for SUP weather July 7, 2020 – strong Jet Stream in effect.

With a new week upon us the question being asked by many stand up paddle boarders is: ‘will it be as windy as last week?’. Even though wind can be your friend we appreciate many paddlers are newer to the sport and want calmer conditions. Well, the good news, is that this should be the case. The caveat being that conditions will still remain changeable, with a strong Jet Stream in effect, meaning at times it’ll still be breezy. Also, air temperatures will be a little lower for the time of year.

What this translates to on the ground, broadly, is a case of picking your window of opportunity and aiming for the calmest period or seeking shelter. Shelter being lakes, rivers, canals and coastal waterways where you can took in behind land masses or next to the shore.

Obviously everyone should stay safe and not take on things that are beyond abilities. That said there should be some opportunity at points for a paddle if you keep your eyes open, watch for the windows and are in a position to get gone.

Strong jet stream

A strong #jetstream will lead to a changeable week ahead, with temperatures around average for early July

Posted by Met Office on Saturday, July 4, 2020

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The importance of inflating your stand up paddle board to the correct PSI.

Inflatable stand up paddle boards are designed with a certain PSI in mind – most are somewhere between 15-18 PSI although quality iSUPs, made from top grade Dropstitch material (like McConks) can cope with more air inside. Lesser quality inflatables not so much. If you try and force too much air inside they simply pop, or the Dropstitch comes away from the PVC deck and hull internally.

We’re pretty sure you’ve discovered this for yourselves but when you go past a certain amount – usually around 8 PSI or so – it actually becomes harder work getting your board to its correct pressure. This is especially the case if you’re using a manual pump. The resistance is greater therefore it takes more force to inflate.

Using a quality dual iSUP pump will help although there’ll still be force needed on your part. And it’s vitally important to inflate correctly. The main reasons being, if you don’t deflection becomes greater and performance on the water, such a tracking and glide, becomes inefficient and/or less resulting more effort and less enjoyment on your part.

Deflection is the amount of bend an air filled board will show. This bend is usually around the mid-point of the board where a rider stands. With too little air deflection is exacerbated and your board will resemble a floating banana. Your SUP’s ‘cockpit’ area will sink below the water line and the nose will raise and begin pushing water. Around the tail fins will be elevated and not engage correctly. The whole experience will be underwhelming and not that enjoyable.

As mentioned above your stand up paddle board will be supplied with a quality pump – at least if you purchase one from McConks. Electric versions are available to take some of the inflation hassle factor away but these should be considered carefully. The wrong type can actually damage your board. (Check the McConks SUP shop for what we recommend).

Ultimately for the best SUP experience possible you should know how much air your iSUP needs (many brands print this info on or next to the valve) and get the correct PSI inside. Once inflated it’s fine to leave, if you choose to do so. Again, with a McConks SUP, we’re confident it can stay inflated, without loss of integrity, for considerable lengths of time because of its quality build, should you choose not to deflate at the end of every session. Our boards live on the top of our van for much of the season. Which brings another question – why inflatables at all? Well, they’re just so much more rugged and robust than hard boards. And when you’re messing around with kids on rivers, shingles beaches, rocky shores etc, then that ruggedness is essential!

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You’ve bought your first stand up paddle board – now what?

If you’re one of the many who’ve recently purchased a stand up paddle board, and have yet to use it, or looking for a few ideas of what SUP adventures you can get up to then read on.

Adventure SUP

With your new found toy there’s never been a better way for exploring and discovering new vistas, waterways and destinations. A stand up paddle board can be locked and loaded for all kinds of adventures – from day long sojourns to just a few hours. Those truly free spirited types may even fancy big adventure SUP challenges that cover weeks. If this is your bag then plan, plan and plan some more. That old age saying: ‘prior planning and preparation prevents poor performance’ has never been more applicable.

Family paddles

If you’re fortunate enough to have acquired more than one stand up paddle board then it’s time to get the family involved. SUP sessions can be a great way to spend quality time with the rest of your brood, whilst getting some exercise and enjoying the outdoors. With modern life being so hectic slowing it right down and indulging in some family paddling is a way to reconnect.

SUP surfing

Even with an inflatable you’re free to get stuck in to a spot of stand up paddle surfing. It doesn’t need to be ‘going off’ and huge – in fact, we’d argue against this. SUP‘s beauty in surfing waves is they don’t need to be particularly big, ripples can actually suffice. Small swell is just as fun as bigger stuff for many. And this will teach all those fundamental skills in case you fancy taking stand up paddle surfing further.

WindSUP

Does your stand up paddle board have a windsurf sail attachment? If so, use it! When it’s too breezy to paddle stick a rig on and away you go. Inflatables, especially, can be great for anyone looking to learn how to harness the power of wind. And iSUPs are great for kids beginning their paddling and windsurf journey.

River running

We’re not suggesting doing battle with high volume white water – if this appeals then steadily working your way up and developing skills over time needs to be sorted first. Mellow runs on moderately moving rivers, however, can certainly be done. Just make sure you know your route and have in mind what hazards are about. Don’t take on anything that’s out of your league. Scout beforehand to assess.

SUP racing

In the UK there’s a large number of SUP racers that compete both seriously and for fun. You don’t have to be vying for podiums in the elite classes either. Battling your mates and using the whole experience to better you SUP ability is what a good many enter events for. And inflatable board owners are just as welcome as hard SUP riders.

SUP diving/fishing

If less exertion is what you’re after from your paddle boarding then using your SUP as a diving or fishing platform could appeal. ‘Gear heads’ may love the idea of going ‘all in’ and tricking out your board to reel in that big one. Divers meanwhile need not be waiting around for motorised propulsion to their chosen site.

The above are just a few examples of what you can use your stand up paddle board – there are many more. Let us know what you do atop your stand up paddle board or what you’re considering.

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Too much of a good thing? Burning out on SUP…

If you really get into stand up paddling then chances are you’ll be clambering for every conceivable opportunity to get out and indulge. And why not? If you’ve got the gear, have the time then fill your boots. We know of plenty people who’ve recently got hold of their own gear and now have the SUP bug, which is great!

There is, however, something to consider if you stick to the same stomping ground – or rather, paddling water – and your tried and tested type of session. Dare we say that you may become bored and burn out on SUP if you don’t mix things up.

Stand up paddle boarding‘s versatility is widely touted. Even with an inflatable SUP you’re able to tackle different stretches of water and mix your SUP shenanigans up. Variety is, after all, the spice of life. Predominantly coastal paddlers are free to take their gear inland, flat water SUPers can quite happily tackle waves and if you’ve the option of sticking a sail on your board, ala windSUP, then you definitely should. The more you do the more rounded your experience and skillset will become meaning you’ll be able to take on most kinds of conditions that are bowled your way.

Sometimes, however, even if you do diversify, you may just not feel it. The weather could be perfect, your window of opportunity right on the money yet your inner desire to get paddling just not fizzing. But that’s OK. We all lose our mojo from time to time. The solution is to not beat yourself up and go do something else, whatever that may be. Being able to come back to stand up, having spent a little time away, could help you reset the stoke button so the next time you’re aboard your appetite is the same, or even more ravenous, than previous.

Here’re a few tips if you feel your current SUP isn’t flicking the switch.

  • SUP surf – start small at first but heading for a play in the waves will have you buzzing for sure.
  • Head off on a mini SUP adventure – this could give you a taste and spur you on to longer sojourns.
  • Do a downwinder – if you’re unsure what downwinding is then Google it. You don’t need a gale but you do need logistics in place before setting off (like how to get back to you launch point).
  • Get qualified – becoming an instructor is a way to inspire and help others progress and is super rewarding.
  • Learn how to windsurf/windSUP (if your board has the right attachments).
  • Wing it! Winging is the latest ‘big thing’ to hit watersports and will provide a bit of fun during breezy sessions.
  • Get involved with some mellow white water paddling – don’t head for your nearest grade 5 but mellow river SUPing can be good fun.

There are plenty more ways to spice up your stand up paddle boarding. If you need pointing in teh right direction feel free to us a shout.

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Mental health and stand up paddle boarding (and falling cows).

We’ve talked about mental health and SUP in previous articles. In the world we now live in, with post-COVID anxiety a real issue (just one example and cause), it’s never been more important to find a way to get respite and release. It mightn’t necessarily be stand up paddle boarding you use as your ‘tool’ of choice. It could be anything; going for a walk in the fresh air may serve to cleanse just as efficiently. But for a good many stand up paddle boarding does help those kerfuflled brains deal with life. (Of course, we appreciate there are levels of seriousness with mental health; some problems may need medical intervention).

Matt Loftus – a good friend of McConks, is a mental health specialist and paddlesports instructor. This blog post is a really interesting insight into exactly why SUP and paddlesports are beneficial for mental health. And it involves a falling cow, which always brightens up anyone’s day! Check it out here.

If you’re in the West Midlands and are looking for SUP instruction or an introduction SUP, contact Matt via his website, or via @outdooradventureman on Instagram.

There’s a lot of discussion surrounding the mental health of our children at the moment. Again, with a global pandemic having unsettled us all, the growth and stability of our children is one area of concern. Lack of social interaction, for instance, with friends of the same age group is deemed not being brilliant for kids. We’ve heard about a bunch of stand up paddle boarding initiatives to help with this. Kent Surf School – one example – are about to start offering socially distanced group paddles to help children enjoy a ‘real’ pastime as well as some company in their own age bracket.

And then there are the soothing benefits of surfing which charities have used to help counter such mental health conditions as PTSD. Encouraging feelings of joy is a positive way to manage moods and also encourage things like better sleep, which beneficial properties then knock on to all aspects of life. Stand up paddle boarding, as a distant cousin of surfing, can also help in similar ways. We quote from ptsd.org: ‘There’s medical evidence that movement and physical effort are able to encourage metabolic processes to occur within the brain.’

We’ll reiterate again that we’re not suggesting SUP is the be all and end all cure for mental health problems. But we do believe it can help. If you’re having mental health issues we’d suggest you speak to a medical professional first. And when/if you can, get out for a float…

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National Trust, Windermere, re-opening, gradually and safely (for SUP).

We’re pleased to see the National Trust’s locations are going to be opening again very soon – albeit gradually and safely. Already the NT have opened over 100 gardens and parks in England and Northern Ireland via advanced bookings. From Monday July 6 parks and gardens will also start to open in Wales.

This is good news for paddling on Lake Windermere as you’ll soon be able to do so once again. If you’re not aware the Lake District offers a stunning place to SUP with incredible vistas of fell mountains, rolling hills and (at certain times) snow-capped peaks. Its plethora of glacial ribbon lakes are worth a visit regardless of whether you intend getting afloat. And for those who fancy combining paddling with walking/scrambling/climbing then it goes without saying the Lake District should be on your bucket list.

For opening info regarding all aspects of the National Trust it’s best to check the NT website before your visit. You can do so here. Suffice to say it’s great news to see the Lakes on the cards for travel again. And if you hadn’t already spotted McConks works closely with the National Trust so we’re keen to support them as they do us.

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Worth a watch – stand up paddle boarding movies to get your juices flowing.

Whether you’re new to SUP or an old hand there’re a bunch of stand up paddle boarding movies that have done the rounds and are designed to get pumped and ready for your next session. In some of these edits you’ll find aspiration and inspirational riding that’ll see you want to get out there amongst it. At other times you may simply be in awe whilst there may also be titbits of info you’ll pick up that’ll serve as part of your SUP education. In all instances SUP movies will at the very least help you while away some time when you’re not getting wet.

That First Glide

If you’re a stand up paddler with a windsurfing background then you may be familair with the name Mike Waltze. Waltze was one of the original Maui wave sailing trailblazers who pioneered the now revered Ho’okipa Beach Park: THE premier wave sailing location in the world. What you may not know is Mike owns and runs a successful video production company and soon after SUP’s inception began filming for his 2011 stand up paddle boarding documentary That First Glide.

Featuring all those familiar SUP pioneers That First Glide often gets overlooked but is one of the original (modern) paddle boarding films that’s still relevant today.

H2Mexico

Featuring such stalwarts of the SUP scene as Danny Ching, Connor Baxter, Dave Boehne, Dave Kalama, Gerry Lopez and Slater Trout (among others) Brent Deal’s premise for H2Mexico was place some of the world’s best paddlers at the time (2014) aboard a super yacht (The Royal Pelagic) and seek out adventures and paddling awesomeness along Baja’s rugged coast. The resulting film was noted as one of the best at the time of release.

The SUP Movie

John DeCesare and his Poor Boyz Productions released The SUP Movie in 2015. It’s another progressive stand up paddle boarding movie that has heavy Maui overtones. No less it’s still an awesome edit from an award winning director who started off producing freeskiing films in association with Red Bull Media House. He then went on to create The Windsurfing Movie, The Windsurfing Movie II before releasing The SUP Movie. Amazing photography and a kicking soundtrack to boot…

But it doesn’t stop there for DeCeasre’s cinematic depiction of SUP…

Paradigm Lost

Kai Lenny is one of the world’s most progressive and skilled riders across a whole host of ocean sporting disciplines – from windsurfing to SUP, kitesurfing to big wave surfing and now foiling, he’s at the cutting edge. Following John DeCesare’s 2015 The SUP Movie (see above) the Poor Boyz Productions cinematographer teamed up with the Hawaiian prodigy to shoot Paradigm Lost. A look into Lenny’s way of life and approach to wave riding it was filmed over three years, across six different countries and whilst isn’t SUP specific it does feature lots of stand up paddling boarding and seeks to highlight the life of a true waterman. Whether you like Lenny or not it certainly acts as an inspirational flick.

There are, of course, plenty more edits to be found online and not just featuring SUPing in waves. What’s your favourite stand up paddle boarding movie? Let us know…

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Stand up paddle boarding in rain – yes, you can!

At time of writing the heaven’s are open and there’s a good deal of moisture kicking about. The unprecedented good weather the UK’s enjoyed through the latter part of spring and early part of summer can certainly make you think Mother Nature’s been feeling generous and it’ll prolong. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like this. The physical position of the UK, in relation to our European neighbours and the seas/oceans, means our weather will always be in a state of flux as we have weather fronts sweeping across our nature from all corners. After all, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility to get flurries of snow in parts – even as late as we are now (June 2020).

You may be one of the large numbers who’ve recently purchased a stand up paddle board to maximise the glorious weather and the fact there’s a more stay at home vibe to current proceedings. (Note: we appreciate that some overseas countries are possibly going to allow visitors as travel restrictions are lifted). So what if you’ve had your new toy land but it’s pouring?

Those marketing types who ‘sell the dream’ would have you believe (if mainstream media is concerned) that SUP is a fair-weather pastime. (Some within the stand up paddle board industry as well for that matter). Not so! We can’t stress this enough. While it’s certainly lovely to be out paddling on calm water with sunny blue skies in effect this type of scenario is a ‘nice to have’. Absolutely make the most of good conditions but also, when it’s not so idyllic, also make the most of opportunities to get afloat.

If you’re not bothered about anything more than simply paddling on flat water when it’s glorious then this may not be applicable. For anyone looking to progress with SUP, however, then any seasoned paddler will tell you getting out in all weather is the only way to improve. Of course, technique and understanding of said technique will also help, but it’s time afloat as well. And with the right paddling apparel there’s really no reason a spot of rain should halt your SUPing.

As ever safety is paramount so we’re not suggesting take on conditions that are beyond your ability. But should you gaze out of the window to grey skies and rain don’t be put off. If anything, with air temperatures still warm, a few drips will serve to cool you off as a sweat’s worked up.

If you need any advice on stand up paddle board apparel then feel free to ask us.

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Choosing the right Mcconks stand up paddle board for the type of adventure SUP you have in mind.

Adventure SUP can be anything you want it to be: week long sojourns to the outer known; white water runs along your local patch, stopping off to camp along the way. Or more family orientated day trips to quiet coastal corners. Plus, everything else in between.

Depending on what type of adventure(s) you plan on doing McConks has the right kind of inflatable SUP for you. In fact, the adventurous spirit/ethos is deeply ingrained in the McConks brand. Whilst we’re all over other aspects of the discipline it’s this spirit of adventure that sits the best with us. Listed below are a few McConks iSUPs and how they fit the different types of adventure you’re possibly looking at.

The McConks Go Anywhere 10’6 is perfect for a couple of hours mini-adventure. It’s got enough room on deck to store a few essentials for your trip. Whilst glide and tracking will keep you straight line and true until you reach your destination.

For anyone into river running and white water SUP then McConks’ 11′ Go X Wild is the one. A super stable board, with a superior design that’s fit for purpose – and then some.

If you’re thinking of heading off for a longer sojourn then check out the McConks’ 11’4 for those in to day long adventures. With its longer length glide is improved so efficiency over greater distance is top shelf.

McConks’ 12’8 is choice for paddlers wanting to overnight; camping in the wilds, carry all your gear as you go, it may be multiple day trips or longer still. Whatever you’re thinking this iSUP will lap it up.

If you want the ultimate in touring adventure SUP then McConks’ 14′ Go Further is right on the money for multi-day trips. It eats up miles effortlessly whilst carrying you and all that necessary gear. There’re no compromises with the Go Further so why should you?

McConks Go Further 14" inflatable SUP
Kathy marston SUP instructor showing how well the McConks Go Further glides

If you need any advice on what McConks equipment will suit your type of adventure then get in touch.

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The warming of the weather: week Mon 22 Jun – Wed 1 July 2020.

At time of writing the weather’s currently on the cooler side with much in the way of rain showers and the occasional thunderstorm. For the time of year this isn’t unusual. What mostly follows periods of warm, sunny conditions are cooler, slightly wetter conditions. But, the Met Office is suggesting there’re signs of a return to warmer, sunnier days in the not too distant future. We quote:

‘There are signs of a more settled and dry spell of weather becoming established for many parts towards the middle part of the first week. It will probably become generally warm, perhaps very warm in places, especially for southeastern areas.’

Why are we reporting this? Most new stand up paddlers aren’t from watersports backgrounds where hanging about on wind swept beaches is the norm. Knowing how to use the elements, such as breeze, is something you get used to in time. For the short term those paddlers looking to take first tentative strokes or build on foundations want brighter, calmer, warmer weather which, we’ll admit, is far more enticing for getting afloat.

10 day trend with Alex Deakin

What does the weather have in store for us over the next 10 days? Find out with Alex Deakin

Posted by Met Office on Wednesday, June 17, 2020

There are still caveats to the above prediction, however. If you’re coastal bound then beware of sea breezes which occur as the land warms and cooler air rushes in from the sea. A seemingly calm forecast might not be the case upon arrival at the beach if you’re not taking this into consideration. Earlier, morning sessions, or late evening paddles are usually a better bet for calmer water.

So, if you’ve just gotten hold of your new stand up paddle board gear, and/or you’ve only been out a few times since acquiring your spangly new SUP then you could be in for a good few days to get those paddling muscles working.

As always, if you need a hand with anything SUP kit related or have queries relating to conditions and what you should be looking out for then let us know.

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Need a stand up paddle board? Course you do! McConks can help…

It’s an understatement and rather a cliche to say that the times we current live in are unprecedented. But they are definitely bizarre! From the stand up paddle board industry’s point of view it’s also the same. In the last few weeks, since lockdown restrictions were eased ever so slightly, demand for SUP equipment has gone through the roof. We’ve mentioned it previously, but just in case you missed it, McConks has never been so busy. For the month of June so far, we’re 700% up on the same period last year. And despite the downturn in the weather, there’s no downturn in enquiries and sales.

For a whole number of reasons people want stand up paddle boards in their lives, often, more than one, but in particular inflatables are in high demand. The benefits of iSUP has been promoted extensively so we’ll not bang on about it. Good weather, of course, has played its part, but so has having to be at home (or at least in the local vicinity), with restrictions imposed for overseas travel. And not being able to hire from many place has played it’s part. Events have conspired to provoke thoughts along the lines of: ‘what can I do outdoors, perhaps on the water, that’s fun and will enhance my staycation?‘. The natural conclusion for many (who may have previously seen SUP but been putting it off or hiring in the short term) is to purchase a stand up paddle board. The reduced spend on overseas holidays may have freed up a little money to go down this route as well.

It tells you something when the mainstream, broadsheet press has picked up the current SUP boom as well: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/stand-up-paddle-board-stocks-dry-up-as-new-fans-head-to-sea-btfss0r0b?fbclid=IwAR2JHsNilJYy8uFqAmijMHjkVF2m4hTUPtypk9DrO2pZ6YXy9vK8wnCwA-8

So if you’re looking to get hold of your first stand up paddle board package, upgrade to something more progressive or add to your quiver fear not! McConks SUP has stock and we can help. If you’re unsure what you’re looking at, need some help choosing or simply have general queries about SUP, get in touch as we’re only happy help. In the meantime check out McConks’ SUP web shop for a complete listing of products.

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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’s just SUP these days…isn’t it?

Stand up paddle surfing, SUP racing, touring SUP, white water stand up paddle boarding, recreational paddling and so on…You’ve heard all the terms, no doubt read all the pigeon-holed descriptions and are probably aware of a few more disciplines within the discipline, so to speak. And that’s how it’s been since stand up’s renaissance in the early noughties. Paddlers have been more or less defined what type of board they ride, where they paddle and how they do it. But in recent times SUP’s evolved. And for the majority of paddlers the choice of an iSUP remains the piece of kit fit for purpose. So much so that the biggest percentage of floating blade wielders can be referred to as ‘all round’. Or maybe it’s even more simple than that…

You buy your board, paddle and apparel to get afloat then it’s a case of doing the thing. And that’s regardless of wherever, whenever and however. If there’s a bump you try and ride it. If there’s something to discover/inspect in the distance then off you pop. The rest of your family fancy a go? No probs: here’s the gear and away they head. Perhaps you find yourself next to an inland stretch of water. Time to get that float kit! It doesn’t matter what length, width or volume of board you’ve chosen it’s all game for a SUP. And there’s the thing. There really aren’t any descriptive boundaries that apply here: it’s all just SUP. It’s not ever a sport, as some might consider other hobbies to be.

Of course, there are still plenty who subscribe to a particular type of paddling and those who do see SUP as a sport. In these cases you can still attribute the aforementioned titles based on the paddling discipline being practised. For anybody into recreational SUP (currently) who’s looking to progress this may be of interest. Having these descriptive terms will give a little direction for pathway choices. Yet the majority aren’t really bothered. And why should they be? Stand up can be practised without having to consider any parameters. Without boundaries, after all, is a way to broaden the mind. Only when you try and condense things down and begin pinning labels on things do we get hemmed in, build metaphorical walls and effectively shut down to other possibilities. (This isn’t strictly true of SUP as stand up has actually helped broaden people’s activity horizons. But you get the point).

SUP is just SUP these days: one board, one paddle, for anyone to go anywhere, anytime. This is how it should be. And for something that perhaps struggled with identity back in the day (is it a paddle sport, is it a surf sport debates etc?) then now we have it: SUP’s just SUP.

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SUP staycation 2020?

At time of writing, with lockdown restrictions eased slightly in England, it seems that planned summer holiday of SUP are no longer on the cards. Which makes sense when you think about it. Air travel isn’t exactly conforming to social distancing rules…

So will 2020 be the year of the English SUP staycation?

It could be… But even this may have caveats. Thronging beaches, full of interminglers, is also highly risky. And the last thing any county wants to do is ‘police’ once popular beauty spots – some of which are great of stand up paddle boarding.

Negatives aside, however, and if things should improve, with infection risk dropping further, then maybe your SUP staycation can go ahead. After all, the UK at large is a thing of beauty. Out in the wilds or on the water (inland or coastal) we have stunning vistas, scenery and nature to enjoy. And there’s no better way to experience many of these spots than from aboard a SUP.

With regard to many of the abundant SUP put ins around the country there’s not huge amounts of information – from a stand up point of view that is. Hopefully, McConks can begin to address this though. Look out for our bitesize SUP location guides coming soon. And fingers crossed we can all enjoy a SUP staycation this summer at least.

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McConks SUP fundamental skills – stand up paddle board pivot turns

Next to actually paddling in a straight line, and having an understanding of what you should be doing with your blade during each stroke, the other skill to have with SUP is (arguably) the pivot turn. (Or step back turn as some call it). It’s a move that can be employed in all manner of situations; from flat water to waves, moving rivers or general recreational paddling environments. It’s supremely practical as both a safety move and functional for positioning in equal measure.

Centre line

The first thing to get your head around (or rather across) is the centre line of your board. Intuitively you place feet inboard as you pilot in straight lines – particular as you pass those early learning stages. If you didn’t you’d be in the drink as weighting each rail is the quickest way to unbalance and take a dunking. Consciously, however, you should be thinking about the board’s centre line and realising this is how to affect your SUP’s behaviour and manoeuvrability. Being pro-active along the board’s centre line (nose to tail) and left to right (rail to rail) can also be referred to as trim. Board trim is a separate topic in itself but worth keeping in mind none the less.

Keeping with the SUP pivot turn theme it’s that stepping to the tail, and back again once the move’s complete, that we’re focusing on here.

The step back

‘Walking the plank’ (or board in this case) is an age old skill that longboard surfers have used to great effect throughout wave sliding’s history. Transferring this to SUP and the goal remains the same. Walk back towards the tail, efficiently foot over foot, to lift the board’s nose and sink the rear. This reduces the wetted area of your SUP and gives a nimble and loose feel ready to pivot.

If you need to use your paddle as you move then by all means do so. Note that it’s better to ‘step’ quickly and without adding a brace stroke, however. Practised pivot turners will use the step back part to swing their paddle forwards ready for the next part.

The pivot and sweep

Reaching the tail of your board knees should be slightly bent with your head and upper body looking at the raised nose and jutting in a forwards direction. With greater nose height comes a more exaggerated form of this movement. Weighting the tail too much will result in a fall whereas bending the front leg, as well as keeping across the centre line, should result in balance and poise. But don’t hang around…

During the step back phase reaching out wide with the paddle, across your chest, the blade should hit the water forwards of where your front leg is positioned. As the board’s nose lifts draw the blade through the water in an arced sweeping fashion. The blade’s power, with you perched on the tail, will cause the SUP to turn quickly, or pivot.

The recovery

In time with the sweep stroke finishing paddlers should be aiming to step towards the nose of the board, keeping across that centre line still, and level it off. (Experienced paddlers can do this in one movement). Head, shoulders and trunk are still forward and knees bent.

As the board returns to a planted, flat platform riders will have completed the pivot turn and be back in their usual paddling stance, or thereabouts.

Tips

For anyone falling off the tail try and pivot in a less extreme fashion at first, gradually increasing the angle of attack as your skills grow.

If there’s a kick block on your SUP’s tail pad then use this to wedge you back foot against during the pivot turn’s initiation.

Keep your head forwards and over the centre line – it’s the heaviest part of your body and accurate positioning will yield best results.

Submerging your paddle’s blade fully during the sweep is best course of action as this is power, resulting in movement, which equals stability.

Wear warm attire to start with – particularly if you’re learning to pivot turn. You’ll probably end up wet during practise so better to be safe than sorry.

Pick a calm stretch of placid water to start with. Avoid flow, chop and waves as this won’t do any favours during the learning phase.

Thanks to Nick Kingston for the pics.

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Lockdown 2020 | Can I stand up paddle board again? | update as of May 13, 2020

Many people are itching to get back on the water, and it seems that some regions of the UK might be starting to slowly release their lockdown. So what’s the current position across the countries of the UK?

For Scotland and Northern Ireland, it’s a straightforward no. You’re only permitted to leave your house for clearly defined reasons, and the exercise reason is for walking, running or cycling close to your house.

For Wales, the Welsh Government and Canoe Wales / Canw Cymru have issued guidance that allows you to paddle if you stay in your local area, and if you walk or drive to your get in only within the local area. The definitive advice is available here

The situation is slightly different in England

On May 10, 2020, PM Boris Johnson announced that people could leave their properties for unlimited exercise and drive (without limits) to visit parks and beaches, as long as social distancing measures are kept, as of Wednesday May 13, 2020.

Watersports are explicitly included in this exercise, but full details of what this means to the management of our waterways/beaches are still being worked through by the relevant management authorities and national governing bodies.

Here’s an update on what this means for different types of water:

Lakes – these are nearly all privately owned, so it is up to the lake owner to ensure social distancing measures can be maintained and to provide safe access. The Lake District tourist board and National Park have asked people to stay away from the Lake Distrcit because of the impact on local communities and because Cumbria currently has the highest rates of infection in England.

Rivers – the Environment Agency is responsible for navigation and management of most rivers in England. They have not updated their online advice since 04 May, but British Canoeing have been in contact with the EA and have said this:

The River Wey navigation, managed by the National Trust is currently closed, although it is reported by British Canoeing to be opening soon. Check here for the latest information.

The Broads Authority who manage the Norfolk Broads have confirmed that the Broads are open for paddling.

Canals – the CRT is responsible for most canals in England, and they have issued a statement saying that exercise on non-powered craft can resume from Wednesday subject to social distancing measures being observed, particularly around portages.

To see which canals the CRT are responsible for check this map. For other canals, you will need to find and check with the current owner/management authority.

Coastal waters – there has never been a restriction on using coastal waters. However, up until Wednesday May 13, you’ve only been able to drive a very short distance or walk for your exercise. Further, the RNLI have been asking people to not partake in watersports in the sea to reduce the risk to their volunteers.

Whilst the restriction on driving to the coast is lifted on May 13, and the RNLI have udpated their advice by removing their previous request to ask people to stay out of the water, many people, businesses and organisations remain concerned about the impact of large numbers of watersports users turning up at locations where the infrastructure (car parks, lifeguards, shops etc) are still operating with limited or no capacity, and where social distancing might be difficult to observe. Although the risk of transmission of SARS- CoV2 is known to be low in outside environments, it is still possible.

British Canoeing have issued pragmatic and balanced guidance to all paddlers which can be found here.

So what do we think?

As of today (13 May 2020), we can stand up paddle board again with the government’s blessing.

Different people will have different views of the risk, and we must all be aware, and empathetic to that. Some people are still shielding and have to stay inside. Others will still choose to to reduce their personal risk of catching coronavirus.

McConks idyllic summer SUP

Others of you will see the risk of catching or transmitting the virus as very small outdoors and be happy to paddle. However, please be aware that water temperature is still icy cold, which almost certainly possess a greater risk than coronavirus to those without experience. And if you’ve not paddled since last summer, you might be in for a big shock, both in terms of water temperature and your personal ability. So take it easy, and stay safe. Having a mishap and needing help from rescue or emergency services will cause a public backlash.

And for us personally, driving long distances to the beach or other put-ins feels wrong, for the reasons mentioned above, but driving short distances to your local quiet put-in seems reasonable.

In order to be safe, you probably shouldn’t paddle alone. The government’s detailed guidance suggests you can do exercise with your family, or you can meet up with one other person outside your family, as long as social distancing measures are observed. So you could interpret that to mean you can paddle with one friend, and that interpretation is supported by British Canoeing.

Whatever decisions you make to go paddling in the near future, please be considerate, be safe, and be alert.

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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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SUP and anxiety struggles.

A true story.

As a young pup, pre-pubescence, a happy-go-lucky attitude is usually par for the course. Not always but usually. Running around – rather tearing about – without a care in the world. Just as it should be. Fast forward slightly to that time in life when hair starts sprouting from unusual places, anatomical morphing leads to unexpected sizing of muscular areas and mentally, hormonally everything changes into a whole new entity. At the same time those tiny chemical particles that inhabit your brain can also shift, in some cases being a little (to a lot) out of balance.

During teenage years our subject in question always knew there was something a little off, deep down. But as was the case back then, unlike now, no labels were available. Instead – at first subconsciously – that mildly odd feeling, which couldn’t quite be shook off, was termed: ‘doom feeling’. That suggests something bad might be impending but actually it was simply born of the musical and literacy interests of the subject.

Manifesting itself as only unease into twenty’s there wasn’t too much to be concerned by. Sunnier situations outweighing the dark were far more in abundance. Only every so often, as far as can be recalled, would the little black cloud move in to cast shadows. At this point it was often dismissed, our subject resorting to proven methods of blowing the clouds away. Most notably getting creative and using the ocean as a source of cleansing.

Unfortunately conditioning and onset of further aging can never really quell these feelings. Instead, alongside additional responsibility – a factor of life as we grow – the unease grows in tandem. At this point society began to recognise mental health challenges. Terms and descriptions have been doled out and it’s perfectly acceptable to talk about issues in public. Anxiety, which is what we’re referring to with this story, is a very real thing, as many will know.

To lesser or greater degrees this is what our subject deals with. Some days can be more severe than other periods. And there’s not really any trigger to put fingers upon. Life can be peachy; life can be hard; yet anxiety comes and goes with no discernible way of identifying the cause. What is true, however – certainly of this instance – is anxiety can often be seen trundling along mental health tracks in the distance, it’s final destination the subject’s mind.

Big life-changing events do nothing to help anyone with anxiety. In fact, these circumstances make it worse, exacerbating the experience. That once below the surface bubbling can emerge as something more. In this instance manifested as frustration and mild anger, especially when thinking about normally innocuous situations.

It’s long been communicated hobbies such as stand up paddle boarding – exercise in general – can help when dealing with anxiety – mental health problems in general. Buying in to the Zen-esque phrase: ‘leave all your problems ashore’ isn’t quite right as those problems still remain, even when you’re indulging in your chosen discipline. You never forget, even when out in the ocean. But paddling can serve as a release – sometimes. We say ‘sometimes’ as unfortunately SUP can make things worse. In the case of our subject, who searches for ‘conditions’, having studied at length weather info, swell data, wind patterns and tides and such. When the planets don’t align, which can be regularly, as let’s face it: Mother Nature isn’t exactly consistent, those frustrations mentioned above can be heightened.

Mental health is a discussion topic on many people’s lips currently. It’s certainly seen as less taboo than previous. How to deal with it personally, however, is very individualistic. Talking can help as well as knowing oneself intimately and recognising the signs. If others are aware they can also be on hand. And physical activity like stand up paddling, on the whole, is a release valve that can be put to good use mostly…

If you’re struggling talk to someone. Don’t suffer in silence.

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The easiest way to choose your McConks stand up paddle board and SUP paddle.

Here at McConks we always try to make things as easy as possible when choosing or deciding your inflatable stand up paddle board and accompanying paddle.

We also try to give as much information as possible, with as little marketing spin as possible, for every product. We want you to have all the information you need to buy the right board for you. But we appreciate you can absorb all the info we have listed for each product, yet you still may be none the wiser at the end of it all.

McConks board types background

Reviews can help of course, both from our media partners as well as existing customers. And while these opinions are great we’re still keen to help even further. After all, buying a complete SUP package, for instance, is a pretty substantial commitment.

Mcconks paddles concept

With this in mind the McConks Stand Up Paddle Board Selection Wizard and SUP Paddle Selection Wizard are worth having a play with. You can fill out the info multiple times to see what comes up. And if all else fails then you can always give us a shout at McConks HQ for a chat about your requirements.

So, if you fancy having a play with the SUP Selection Wizard and Paddle Selection Wizard head across by hitting the links and see what your perfect McConk SUP board and SUP paddles are.

McConks SUP Selection Wizard

McConks Paddle Selection Wizard

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McConks SUP family breakout! – Stop Motion animated fun.

What do you do if you can’t get out for some stand up paddle board action with your family? Simulate it of course! In this instance we simulate in a stop motion animated style.

What do you think? Should we keep going with this and turn it into an animated stop motion SUP series?

BRREAKOUT!Team McConks Mini #lockdownSUPtourThe lockdown has finally gotten to us, and we can't spend any more time with the real McConks family. They're drivingnus insane! So we've escaped our cage. Where will we go next?If you want us to come and visit you or paddle with your SUP business, send us your logo and pic of your location! @standuppaddleuk #lockdownsup #lockdown2020#thisissup#thegreatbounceback

Posted by McConks on Monday, April 27, 2020
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McConks SUP – the BIG bounce back!

McConks SUP – the BIG bounce back!

We’ll back on the water stand up paddle boarding soon! There’s no question. Our world may have changed irreversibly by then but maybe for the better in the long run. Maybe we’ll be kinder to each other, have more empathy with others. Maybe we’ll travel less now we’ve explored our what’s in our back yards a bit more thoroughly. Maybe we’ll buy more locally more regularly. There are hopefully lots of positive changes coming out of the COVID19 hiatus. But one element that won’t have altered is our appreciation, want and desire to get outdoors, to experience nature and be part of something natural.

SUP is just that…The act of paddling stood on top of a floating craft – inflatable or rigid – is a ‘real feel’ activity and feels like you’re immersed in nature. Even just bobbing along, without paddling feels good, and leaves you feeling revitalised and fulfilled at the end of the SUP-session. It’s hard to convey in words, or to quantify in pictures and video, yet all SUPers know the feeling only too well.

As the government starts to think and talk about the end of lockdown, we’re looking towards the future and can start to see that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. That first dip of your paddle blade; the first glide from the river bank; the first sight of a kingfisher; the first sight of a dolphin or otter;practising those pivot turns (you not the otter); that sense of excitement as your round the bend not knowing what delights you might find; heart rate increasing; sounds of nature, sun beating down; a slight breeze maybe; a touch of swell in the mix. This is what we’ve got to look forward to. It will happen again when we bounce back.

McConks touring paddleboard

And bounce back McConks will too! Stand up paddle boarding is not disappearing from the world any time soon. We all need activities like SUP in our lives. It might be even more a solitary (or small group) sport in the next few weeks, months and years, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The shared experience will still be there when we communicate having been on the water, even in virtual communication.

Go Mega | Multi persona inflatable paddleboards

Bouncing back from setbacks is human nature. Learning and becoming more resilient and learning from past mistakes are also signs of the human ability to evolve. Paddling for many is a release; a form of escapism yet we’ll also evolve within SUP and as a community with common interests. Despite some of the heated discussions that there have been around whether one should paddle during lockdown, there is more that unites most of us than divides us!

So, if you haven’t been doing so already it’s time to prepare; prepare to bounce back. Prepare to bounce back in to SUP. We can’t wait!

Ways to prepare for the BIG SUP bounce back –

Check your existing SUP gear over. Make sure there’s no damage to your board, paddle or fins (especially if you’ve been larking around with them in the garden like we have! If there is, and you can repair, then do so. If you need to replace some bits then do it sooner rather than later. We’re already sending out replacement fins and screws to the most forward looking paddlers. And supply chains across the SUP space have been interrupted, so supplies of spares might run dry if demand exceeds supply.

Give your paddling apparel a look/see. Make sure it’s clean and fresh for that first session back afloat. If wetsuit zips are corroded with salt you’ll need to sort them out. For anyone needing new kit then hit up the McConks shop where there’re plenty of available accessories like SUP pumps, rashvests, polarised sunnies and more.

If you’ve been holding off getting your first SUP, replacing your old machine or adding to your quiver then now’s the time. Make sure you’re adequately kitted out with some quality McConks SUP gear, all of which you can find in our online shop.

McConks 10'8 iSUP

It’s been tough for some people to keep on top of fitness during lockdown. If like us you’ve been cultivating a lockdown belly, it’s time to kickstart training for the BIG SUP bounce back. So, go for a run (safely of course). Maybe get your bike out. If you need to familiarise yourself with balancing again then bust out the balance board. If you don’t have one check out the range of McConks balance boards we have in the shop (produced by the awesome daddyboards).

Get planning! Decide where you’re going to paddle and how you’re going to achieve this. It doesn’t need to be an epic journey, race or surf sesh. A mellow float up and down your local stretch will suffice. Get your head back into SUP and thinking like a paddler. If you’re looking for inspiration about where to paddle, make sure you check out SUPhubUK – the most complete map of spots, events, instructors and clubs covering the UK.

You can also start perusing weather forecast data again. Whilst predictions a few weeks out aren’t 100% accurate they can at least give some indication of general conditions, and help you spot when the next settled period of dry and calm weather is likely to be.

We’ll not lie: it’s not going to be easy coming out of this lockdown period. We’ve all experienced all kinds of stresses and strains – whether than be financial worries, personal loss, job security or a whole heap of other possible concerns. But there are few better tonics to stress and anxiety than spending time on or near water. And as we all know, SUP is far and away the best thing to do on water! It’s by no means the be all and end all but it’ll help.

McConks SUP: bouncing back into stand up paddle boarding since 2020!

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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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5 SUP mistakes anyone can make…

5 SUP mistakes anyone can make…

This isn’t poking fun at anyone, we all make mistakes. It’s merely a bit of fun to lighten the mood and also highlight a handful of goofs that many of us have made – even the now so-called experienced stand up paddlers amongst us. Anyway, learning by trial and error isn’t a bad thing as you’ll never forget!

Paddle the wrong way round

Who knew there was a front and back to a stand up paddle board paddle? And why wouldn’t it be the angled face (the back) that faces towards you? After all, intuitively anybody new to SUP would do the same.

Fins facing backwards

This is one we’ve seen a few times; SUP fins inserted in their box the wrong way round. As with SUP paddles SUP fins are designed to work with the rake of the skeg aiming rearwards, like in the image below. Just so you know…

McConks flush fin box

Wetsuits worn with zips at the front

Yep, another ‘wrong way round’ product that doesn’t just apply to stand up paddlers. And putting on a wetsuit back to front is probably more common mistake than the two above. The zip goes at your back – even mini chest zip wetties the same!

Waxing an already deck gripped up SUP

Actually, there isn’t anything wrong with waxing a SUP fitted with deck grip already. Extra traction is always good even if you don’t technically need it per se. Deck grip will usually provide ample engagement whereas adding surf wax will just cause a mess. Most of the time only SUPs without deck pads need waxing.

Incorrect paddle length

This mostly applies to those SUPers who own adjustable stand up paddle board paddles. It’s probably more common to have the adjustment set too long, which can damage your rotator cuff. There’re are also instances of paddles being too short which results in too stooped a paddling stance.

There are plenty more SUP goofs that we’re sure you’ve seen and maybe made the mistake of doing yourself. Let us know what you’ve seen or done.

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Coronavirus and McConks SUP | Business continuity

Coronavirus McConks SUP| Business continuity

Changing plans

We were meant to be publishing a post right now about how we were going to be helping dozens, if not hundreds, of kids get up running with stand up paddling this summer. A network of SUP instructors around the country willing to give up their time to give free lessons to vulnerable children or kids with less access to watersports, with prizes and care kits from McConks SUP. Given the latest government health advice (as of March 17, 2020) and potential for further restrictions in the coming weeks – particularly movements away from homes, such as getting to water – we’ve put this initiative on hold.

Being on a stand up paddle board, away from crowds, and SUPing in the sunlight (hopefully killing all those nasty illness bugs in the process), is one of the best ways of self-isolating and avoiding COVID19. But whilst the government has restricted all but essential travel we’re taking a little pause to decide what the right thing to do is. If you have any comments or opinions about this we’d love to hear them!

SUP supplier protections

It’s times like this that working with the right SUP industry suppliers is worth its absolute weight in gold. Our suppliers treat their workers fairly. Our factories even give paid holidays and support to people off work sick – that’s pretty unheard of in China! But it’s always been a part of doing business with us. Also, our factories operate an aseptic environment to prevent dust and dirt getting into McConks SUP gear. Paid sick leave plus an aseptic environment means that the risk of virus fragments being left on, or in, our kit when it leaves the factory is extremely low. And we only ship our products by sea, therefore the delay between shipping and arriving at our HQ means that the risk of our products carrying live coronavirus is as close to zero as it can get.

Our HQ and our distribution centre in South Wales are fastidious about cleaning hands between product picks. And as family companies, you can rest assured that workers are fully paid if they are self-isolating, therefore there is no pressure on employees to come to work whilst they might be infectious.

We can’t totally eliminate the risk of coronavirus on our products but everything we are doing at McConks SUP is trying to prevent the spread of CV19.

The future for McConks SUP

We don’t know what the world will look like on the other side of this virus but we know it will be different. We’re worried about the future for some of our friends and partners running small businesses. As SUP instructors, outdoor ed centres providing stand up paddle board tuition and tours, SUP rental businesses, riverside pubs and such it’s going to be tough. Sustained loss of income over the next few months will weigh heavily on them, and some might not make it…

McConks is not a business that has sold our soul to the devil in exchange for sales and profits. We’ve never taken on equity partners or massive structural debts. Therefore, unlike lots of others in the industry, we haven’t got a monthly ‘monster’ desperate for all of our money. Our outgoings are relatively low in comparison to many. So if we need to sit on stock for a year we can do so.

But we’re not changing anything in the near future. We’re fully open for business, as is SUPbypost.com. We currently have stock of most McConks SUP products, and we have another container arriving in May to feed the summer boom!?!

So as things stand, unless logistics are forcibly shut down by the UK government, all pre-orders will still be shipped before Easter (for pre-order batch 1), or in May (for pre-order batch 2).

Stay safe and don’t panic!

It’s easy to say. We’re trying to keep a level head ourselves at the moment and it’s difficult. Falling off a cliff in panic, if you let the ‘mental monsters’ overwhelm you, is easily done. We’re not mental health experts but disconnecting from Facebook, TV, radio for a few hours and reading a good book works wonders to reset those anxiety levels. And even better to do that stood on a SUP in the middle of a river or at the coast. If that fails just sit in your garden – after all the weather getting better now…and fresh air, Vitamin D and birdsong in your ear works wonders.

McConks SUP in a river

Whatever you do look after yourselves, your family, friends and neighbours. We don’t have immediate family in the risk categories so we’re lucky, but we know parents who are. And friends (both personal and business) who are in vulnerable categories as well – all of whom we’re thinking of regularly and sending all our best wishes to!

As always, if you’ve got any questions we’re happy to answer them on Instagram(www.instagram.com/mcconksSUP_uk), Facebook (Facebook.com/mcconksUK), or email.

If you’re unsure of what practising social distancing may look like then here’s an example. What could be a possibility is driving somewhere you know to be quiet for a paddle on your SUP. We will say this isn’t from an official source, as far as we know, but the points are sensible.

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Choosing your perfect SUP with the McConks SUP Selection Wizard

Choosing your perfect SUP with the McConks SUP Selection Wizard

We’re all about making things as easy as possible here at McConks SUP – especially when it comes to getting your stand up paddle board equipment choice right. Due to having a plethora of iSUPs available the amount of gear can sometimes be overwhelming. So to combat that McConks SUP have created the SUP Selection Wizard to help you nail down your ideal paddling board partner.

Whether you’re a total beginner, improving intermediate or seasoned pro the McConks stand up paddle board Selection Wizard will steer you in the right direction. And if you fancy cross-referencing your choices then simply reset the SUP Selection Wizard and see what comes up having entered a different bunch of criteria. Or, alternatively, message us as we’re only happy to help, answer your questions and guide you along the correct path.

And don’t forget to check out our Choosing the Perfect Inflatable SUP Board article that provides further insight.

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Talking story – McConks’ Q&A

Every brand has a ‘face’ behind the scenes. In the case of McConks SUP that’d be Andy and wife Jen. To get more of an insight into the inner workings of this new kid on the SUP company block Andy was recently put on the Q&A grill to find out what makes him tick, what it takes to get new SUP products to market and where this fledgling company’s heading.

Tell us about your watersports background and when you first discovered SUP?

Jen and I have long been “outdoor adventure and recreation’’ devotees. I grew up in South Wales and spent many long hours in and on the South Wales coast, with my parents, with Scouts and with the South Wales Mountaineering Club. And with the valleys and Brecon Beacons close to hand there was rarely a weekend I wasn’t out in the Welsh countryside or at the coast.

Both Jen and I separately chose universities at the end of civilised world, close to wilderness and on the coast. Me at St Andrews in Scotland and Jen at Aberystwyth. We both studied courses that continued our passion for preserving the natural world and the environment, whilst still taking time to play in the amazing environs we had chosen.

As outdoor adventure activities generalists, it’s fair to say that neither Jen nor I are leaders or instructor level in any particular activity. Depending on the pastime, we’re either competent, or enthusiastic, rather than advanced. But between us we have many years of experience surfing, windsurfing, canoeing, sailing, outdoor swimming, mountain biking, climbing and exploring.

We first saw SUP when it was just breaking in the UK. As keen surfers then I remember looking out back at Rest Bay and seeing my first stand up paddle boarder. I was both jealous and enraged simultaneously. He was getting the best waves, he was getting back out back quickly, and he was able to get to new breaks even quicker. Jen, generally being less quick to jump to opinions and believe what you read in surf magazines (she’s the sensible one), saw the long term appeal. A single board that you can use to explore the coast, to catch some waves and to take you to the best waves; what’s not to like?

However, like many at the time, paddle boarding was just not something we could afford to do. We didn’t have a van, we lived in a small house in the middle of the country miles away from the sea, and we didn’t have much money. In fact, for many years we paddled using ‘old skool’ Mistral or BIC windsurf boards, and split kayak paddles at our sailing club in the Cotswold Water Park (Bowmoor Sailing Club).

[image of paddling an old windsurf board]

What appealed about stand up and what does it offer you personally?

Neither of who like beaches with hundreds of people, competitive localism or elitism. Therefore, a board that can get you away from other people, which you can use to explore the coast, find new beaches and discover new waves was attractive from the moment we first saw a SUP. It’s only in recent years, with our young family, that we’ve discovered how great SUP is for all. Whilst it might be fun for a toddler for a few minutes, watching mummy or daddy rip it up out back, what they really want to do is be part of it. And with very young kids this is only really possible with SUP or canoe. But what really sealed it for me is that the one board you use to take your little ones out on can also give you some serious fun without the kids. Whether that be SUP surfing, river surfing or long distance touring. No other board sport comes close to having that crossover appeal.

Why do you think the masses are attracted to the sport?

It really doesn’t take long to master simple balance and paddling. Compare that to windsurfing or surfing. There is an awful lot to learn before you first catch your first wave or first start planning, let alone before you learn to carve, or to gybe. Many people give up in frustration before they get that far. I know some see this tail off as a benefit because it makes sure that only ‘the right kind of people end up on our waves’. It also creates an endless supply of second hand equipment from people with more money than ability. Whilst I sympathise with these views, and if honest, may even have shared them in the past, I think SUP brings something quite unique. Easy entry as a beginner and then a gradual progression through to advanced rider. No big steps or barriers to development. As I’ve said before one board that can be used in so many different environments.

Another thing that appealed to us was that it’s an all-weather sport. We took up mountain biking after many years of travelling long distances for breaks and holidays to the coast, with cars heavily laden with boards and sails to find no wind or waves. I think we’re probably unique in having had several Easter camping holidays at Newgale and Gwithian without seeing a wave bigger than a foot, and no wind stronger than a little puff. I hate to image how much money we’ve spent on fuel transporting our kit for it not to be used!

And let’s be honest there are large numbers of people who are really attracted to the image of ‘extreme sports’ or the image of the surf lifestyle without really wanting to put themselves in harms way from the off. SUP is a non-threatening way into this lifestyle and image.

Talk us through the McConks story. When did you decide to set up stand up paddle boarding brand? What was the catalyst?

We’re newcomers to the show. Our first thoughts of setting up McConks only emerged in October 2015 after a camping holiday in Dorset. At this stage we were still paddling on old windsurf boards stored at the lake because we couldn’t afford hard boards and had no space at home. We’d heard about iSUPs of course by now, and we knew some people who had boards by the market leader, but their experience of them wasn’t great – they thought they were heavy, and didn’t perform anywhere near as well as rigid boards. But then we saw a mum in her late 20s take her toddler out for a paddle round Portland Harbour on a Naish One, we got thinking. When we looked at the inflatable paddle boards that were available, we were just plain confused. We didn’t feel that big brands ‘spoke’ to us. Even before kids we had become disillusioned with the upselling tactics used by the big windsurf brands and the traditional retailers. They weren’t talking in our target price range (except during the annual discount circus), and we clearly weren’t their target market.

And we realised after talking to the people we met on beaches and breaks, it became clear we weren’t the only ones who no longer felt a connection with these companies. We realised that the traditional methods of manufacturer to distributor to retailer to end-user puts distance between the brand and their customers, and increases prices. That was why we no longer felt affinity and warmth towards bigger brands. So we came up with a new business model that would break down the old-school way of doing things. We wanted to work with our customers, understand what they need and make those products. And this is important to us for lots of reasons, but probably the most important is for environmental reasons: By only selling stuff that ‘normal’ people need, rather than spending lots of money to persuade people that they need stuff, we’re also doing our bit to reduce the impact on the environment.

And why inflatables?

Because that was the board we were in the market for. If there’s a need and the brand/product doesn’t exist, then you create it, right? The obvious advantages of inflatables to our lifestyle meant they were the only choice. Something that is easy to chuck in the back of the car, that’s easy to get up and paddling, that’s indestructible for young kids and that’s easy to store.

And the other key reason is because we didn’t think that the existing iSUP offering was actually very good. There were some good boards by the big brands, with an eye watering price, and with some unacceptable compromises given the price; poor quality fixed fins and cheap aluminium/alloy paddles bundled in the package. If you’re spending the best part of £1k on a board surely you get at least a carbon paddle with it, and the ability to use different fins so you can use you board in different environments?

At the other end of the market there was a good variety of budget boards, but they weren’t particularly good quality. The SUP clubs and facebook groups are awash with real life stories of members being seduced by the latest ‘affordable’ brand that offers the very best quality at the lowest price. You know the ones. “Made in one of the top four factories in China, yet only £400 delivered.” It’s really not possible to manufacture and import a top quality iSUP board and paddle package for £400 unless you’re buying in quantities of thousands. So there’s only a couple of ways these smaller startup companies can do it. Either by compromising on quality, or by buying an off the shelf design and sticking their own brand label and colours on it. Have you ever noticed how many iSUP are the same shape? Brands try to pass this off as being due to plagiarism or because trial and error has ended up with coincident evolution of the same design. Which is a good marketing answer, but not necessarily a true one!

Any chance we might see McConks hard SUPs at some point?

We’ve considered it and have even got as far as knocking up a few designs. I know there’s still a lot of snobbery about hard boards vs inflatables. And this makes sense for those brands that focus on elite surf, downwind or race SUP. But with that elitism, those brands turn off most day to day to day recreational paddlers, both by failing to be inclusive, and with their price point.

It’s also true that there are many excellent quality, UK shaped/designed hard SUPs made in Chinese factories, made by great UK brands at the same price point we would be able to sell at. This just isn’t true with iSUP – no one else sells iSUP with the same attention to detail and design. And the UK has a really vibrant custom shaped scene, and that’s just not a market we want to play in.

So you might see us playing around with a few hard board prototypes in the future if we think we can truly innovate on price or design, or if friends as us to design a board for them, but rigid SUP aren’t a core part of our business for the time being.

When designing a board, paddle and/or accessories where do you start? Are you trying to answer specific ‘questions’ so to speak or just going with your instinct?

New products normally start with a frustration, a lightbulb moment or an idea from a friend or customer. Typically they start with an idea for a shape of a blade or board. And they always start with a sketch.

We then take these sketches to our small network of suppliers to see if our ideas are even possible. Although there are more than 30 iSUP manufacturers in South East Asia (and hundreds of paddle manufacturers) there are only a very small number who meet our exacting QA, environment and worker welfare requirements, who share our passion in innovation and improvement and who have the patience to work with us to constantly modify, tinker with and improve our products. Sometimes our sketch is impossible with current materials and techniques. It’s then back to the drawing board for tweaks and tinkering with the original sketch to make something that works.
Then it’s time for some computer work; 3D design and computer testing of that design with fin placement for example. At the same time we start to think about other parts of the package. Do we need to re-invent the wheel by re-designing a pump, or are off the shelf ones fit for purpose? Fin box type, fin placement and shape? What about the bag?

Once the blueprint is finalised we agree it with our suppliers, and have an agonising and frustrating wait for the prototype to arrive. Sometimes the design has to change during the proto manufacturing phase if it becomes apparent that something doesn’t quite work. We’ll work with our supplier to revise the final prototype design.
If we’ve done our homework right, then the next stage is just a few small changes with accessories or styling. But if we need to go back to drawing board again we will do so. Then it’s full production and another agonising wait whilst the kit is manufactured and shipped to our UK store. The whole process for a new design takes around four months and can take up to eight to finalise.

Any innovations coming from McConks in the near future? If so, are you able to tell us what they are?

iSUP technology hasn’t moved on significantly since 2016/17. Most quality manufacturers have now settled on a variant of enhanced drop stitch for double layer boards. There have been no significant innovations in valve type, deckpad or fin boxes (although we’re still working on the nirvana of low profile iSUP fin boxes flush to the bottom of the board, and a flexible hydrophobic coating that reduces the ‘suckiness’ of iSUP).
And really any brand that is hailing a massive step change between their 2017 and 2018 boards is either only just catching up with the rest of the industry, or using clever marketing!

Our innovations are more to do with our product range. We’ve been prototyping a surfSUP, a freeride windsurf board, and a white water board. None of these are necessarily innovative in terms of the materials used. But they each offer something very different to what’s already on the market. For example:

Freeride board

Surf SUP

Whitewater board

We’re also really pleased to be launching our clothing range in time for 2018. Ethical, sustainable, fair. No other watersports company clothing is organic, fairwear, environmentally friendly, and fun. Or as affordable as ours!

We’re still continuing discussions with some manufacturers about bringing the shaping of our paddles to the UK, and hopefully bringing the entire paddle manufacturing process to Europe within 12 months. But we need to know we can do this and it still be affordable for our customers!

 

How do you see the industry overall? What are your opinions on stand up paddling in general?

SUP is the fastest growing watersport in the world right? So you would expect a lot of positivity, camaraderie and a sense of team. We’ve built our reputation on being open, transparent and fair, but have taken some criticism for this. Apparently, sharing information and opinions, leading by example and suggesting other companies should be open and transparent and actually explain what lies behind the marketing spiel is ‘breaking the code’. We’ve even been banned from some facebook groups for being so unreasonable as to question what others have said in public.

The sport runs the risk of eating itself, and alienating all of those happy go lucky paddlers who just want to have fun. And that’s partly the reason why we’ve worked with some other SUP aficionados to set up SUPHUBUK. To provide an online home for SUP that’s independent of brands, governing bodies and training organisations. Admittedly McConks sponsors SUPHUB right now, but that’s because no-one else has stepped up to the plate. The intention is for SUPHUBUK to become self funded in the future, not needing sponsorship from McConks. And SUPHUBUK is managed by a team of 4 people, and we’re always looking for new team members, so if you think McConks funding is a conflict of interest, come and join the team to make sure it isn’t!

But in general, it is a really happy SUP world out there. Most paddlers just want to paddle and don’t get too involved in the discussions about whether SUP is a paddlesport or a surf sport, or care about inter brand shenanigans, or battles between training organisations and National Governing Bodies. And those of us involved in the industry would do well to remember that!

Where do you see the sport going?

I’m going to resist saying too much about foils, because foils and inflatable boards aren’t overly compatible, or desirable, but foils are here to stay for the time being. But probably not for most of McConks customers!

SUP will continue to grow unless the governing bodies and brands manage to price out or alienate the growing SUP community. Hopefully the governing bodies, training organisations and clubs that organise races will work together and start to act in the interests of the whole SUP community once the international courts have decided if SUP is a paddlesport or a surf sport. And even if they don’t, with such an accessible activity, I suspect it will continue to grow as both a sport (racing, technical competitions, endurance challenges), and as a recreational pastime. Much of the growth McConks has seen has been from ‘recreational paddlers’ who don’t see SUP as a competitive sport at all, but a way of life, or a recreational activity alongside the sports they already do.

This is a really brave, and possibly foolish thing to say, but we think the days of the all-round blunt nose iSUP are coming to end. All round boards may be a marketing success, but most paddlers, most of the time, would be better off with either a surf SUP or a touring SUP. We’re now selling more of our Go Explore board to real people than our all round boards. In fact, if it wasn’t for the demand for all round boards from instructors, rentals and schools, we probably wouldn’t be making them in 2018!
And I suspect that discipline specific iSUP boards will become more popular; whitewater boards, river surf boards, surfSUP, longer (15’ +) downwind boards, 14’ race boards, freeride windSUP, freestyle windSUP. And I could go on.

More and more paddlers are arranging themselves into clubs, which is great to see, and it’s a great way to develop the social side of SUP, and to develop SUP skills. And the very best groups are arranging all sorts of SUP trial events for their members – whitewater SUP, SUP yoga, SUP polo, surfSUP lessons, for example – and are entering club teams into race events – all very positive.

And McConks; what’s the overall aim here? Tell us your brand goals moving forwards.

We started the brand after an idea or two, some cash scraped from what limited savings two watersports and travel fans with two children can amass, and some lovely messages of good luck and goodwill from those with similar passions and frustrations as ours. Just over a year later our products have won plaudits from instructors, magazines, experts and customers alike for their design, function, quality and value. We’ll keep increasing our range if people keep asking, and we’ll keep improving what’s currently offer, if it can be improved. But we don’t do that whole annual update cycle in October November just to persuade customers to spend more money. There’s many years of experience that people disregard as clichés, and the one that springs to mind is ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.
Of course, we want to grow and we want to be bigger and better than we are. But we want to always keep the little guy feel and principles. Only by doing so can we keep close to our customers.
How often do you manage to get out for a float?
If we get out twice a week we’re ecstatic. Once a week we’re happy. But we have a business to run and young boys to look after. If they don’t want to go for a paddle, then we’re not going to push them. Our family is still our priority and spending quality time with the smallest McConks members is all important.

Your local put in, tell us about that. Why is it good for SUPers?

We’re based in the Cotswolds, in the middle of the country, so we spend quite a fair bit of time driving to the south coast or to South Wales. However, we do have some great inland water options right on our doorstep, being on the very outskirts of the Cotswold Water Park. The park has over 70 lakes across an area of 40 hectares, and many paddleable rivers, including the River Thames. And when we say River Thames we’re not talking shopping trolleys and pollution. Our local stretch is a beautiful rural idyll with the added benefit of a lovely waterfront pub with campsite! It’s all flat water unless you can find the few river waves that exist, so perfect for beginners and for families. And with so much wetland and open water around it’s a nature lover’s paradise. Hop on your board and you may see water voles, otters, kingfishers and a whole menagerie of fowl.

Do your family paddle? Is it a group affair when you head for a float or do you end up solo?

Flat water paddling is typically a family affair. Our boys love coming paddling with us. Sat or lying on the front of the board, watching the ripples and colours on the water, pretend fishing and spotting wildlife, they have a whale of a time. And although our eldest is only 6 he’s already having a go at paddling, and is always keen to do things himself. And our new 9’ SurfSUP has been designed for two reasons – first and foremost it’s a highly manoeuvrable and fun surfstick. But secondly, it’s a great little kids board. And Toby has already staked his claim on the prototype for him to paddle in 2018!

If we’re ever testing boards in surf or in anything other than flat water we’ll normally lose the boys, or go solo. We’ve had fun in small waves with the boys, but it’s fair to say that they’re not budding surfers yet; recent cries from around our feet have been “too fast daddy” “no, no, no, that waves tooooo big” .

Who are your paddling heroes and why?

We don’t really do hero worship at McConks. Anyone who gets in the water to train at 6am on a winter’s morning; a mum who defeats her nerves and takes her little one on the water for the first time; the 55 year old who’s always had a passion for the ocean, but just missed the opportunities to do something about it, who gets on a SUP board for the first time.

What about life in general? Anyone inspire you to push on.

Anyone who measures their life success in terms of experiences lived rather than property or money acquired. And that’s a lot of the water sports community!
And Jen is my conscience and sanity checker. If ever McConks makes a mistake I’ll be to blame, not her.

Any final thoughts on SUP in general?

I think it was Laird Hamilton who said that SUP would become the bicycle of watersports. The analogy works well. It’s as easy to get on a SUP and paddle, as it is to get on a bike and ride, possibly even easier. But just because you can ride a bike doesn’t mean that you can throw yourself down a black single track in Morzine any more than you’re going to paddle SUP Serpents on the Dee. So just like cycling SUP has something for everyone, from the most gentle to the most extreme, and is a year round sport. And that’s probably why both SUP and cycling are still growing and show no signs of slowing down.

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Inflatable SUP paddle board for beginners

SUP noobs

Are you a SUP noob?

Standup paddle boarding (SUP) is a fun relaxing and rewarding way to play on water. Relatively gear free, you can get out on the water, playing in river, or lakes or coastal waters. Stand up paddle boards (SUP) offer a fun, relaxing way to play on the water. With a minimum of gear, you can paddle ocean surf or placid lakes and rivers. And the advent of good quality inflatable paddle boards (inflatable SUP) means that you no longer need a garage to store your own SUP.

It’s well known that SUP is great for both physical and mental health. It delivers a full-body workout and has become a popular cross-training activity. 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. And compared to other paddlesports, it works the core muscles more rigorously because of the standing position, and you have the benefit of the views that come with a standing position.

So, what do you need to get on the water?

SUP Gear

The good news is, you don’t actually need much gear to get on the water. You need just a few key pieces of equipment to enjoy SUP. It’s fair to say that although you don’t need much kit, the kit you do need costs several hundred pounds. Therefore, you might want to try hiring some kit from a local hire centre, or join one of the ever growing number of clubs before you buy. If you want to find a friendly SUP club or centre, to try a range of kit you’d do worse than looking at the new SUPhubUK maps to find your nearest school or club.

However, should you already know that SUP is your ideal sport and pastime, this is what you need.

SUP board

There’s a bewildering array of boards available, and the type of board you need depends on the type of environment you’ll be paddling in, and your shape, size and skill. Simply put, the heavier you are, and the less competent you are, the bigger the board you need. See our other blogs for advice on whether you should go for an inflatable SUP or a hard paddle board, things you should know before buying a SUP and for advice on what size SUP board you need.

Paddle

You can get a paddle for as little as £40 or even for free with some cheap SUP packages. But these are typically heavy, poor quality alloy paddles, which are hard work, tiring and in some cases simply plain dangerous. Make sure you buy fibre glass or carbon fibre paddles. You have a choice of adjustable or fixed length paddles. For beginners, we always recommend an adjustable paddle. It often takes several sessions to figure our how long you need your paddle (it’s quite a personal decision), and different paddling environments require different length paddles. A decent adjustable paddle will only weigh 100g more than a fixed paddle, and will give you much more flexibility as you develop.

PFD (Personal Flotation Device)

There is a very active debate as to whether you need a PFD in SUP. PFD are commonplace in paddlesports, and less commonplace in surfsports. We won’t get drawn further on this matter, but you should consider whether you need a PFD, and this will be driven by the environments you will be paddling in. Assume you do need a PFD, and not requiring a PFD is the exception!

Proper clothing

In the middle of UK winter, you might need a dry suit or a winter Wetsuit. In the summer, you might only need a pair of boardshorts and a rashie or t-shirt.  Be aware that it's often more exposed on the water than on shore, and windchill has a significant impact if you've had a dunking.  The general rule is you need clothing that is flexible and moves with you, but keeps hypothermia at bay.

Leash

All good boards with throw in a leash with the board, but not all of the leashes are good. This is an essential piece of safety kit, and the type of leash you need depends on the paddling you’ll be doing. For most general SUP, a coiled 10ft leash is spot on. If you’re going to be trying surf SUP, a straight leash is better, and if you’re getting into river WW SUP, then you need a specialist quick release leash. People have drowned in rivers because they’ve had the wrong kind of leash. But this is only important at the performance end of the spectrum. Most general paddlers will not need anything other than a coiled 10ft leash.

Sun protection

Wear sunscreen and sunglasses. And maybe a hat. Especially if you’re fair. The water really reflects the sun!

SUP Techniques on the Water

Getting on the SUP

When you’re new to the sport, it’s best to start out in flat, calm water that’s free of obstacles (like other watersports users, boats and buoys!) It make sense to progress to your knees before trying to stand up! But, if you want to stand up paddle board, this is how you do it:

  • Standing alongside the board in shallow water, place your paddle across the deck of the board and use it as an outrigger. The paddle grip is on the rail (edge) of the board; the blade rests on the water.
  • Hold the board by the rails. One hand will also be holding the paddle grip.
  • Climb onto the board in a kneeling position, just behind the center point of the board.
  • From that kneeling position, get a feel for the balance point of the board. The nose shouldn’t pop up out of the water and the tail shouldn’t dig in.
  • Keep your hands on either side of the board to stabilize it.
  • Once you’re ready, stand up on the board one foot at a time. Place your feet where your knees were. You might also bring a friend to help stabilize the board as you get the hang of standing on it.

Staying on the SUP

To maintain your balance as you stand upright on the board:

  • Your feet should be parallel, about hip-width distance apart, centred between the board rails (edges). Don’t stand on the rails.
  • Keep toes pointed forward, knees bent and your back straight.
  • Balance with your hips—not your upper body.
  • Keep your head and shoulders steady and upright, and shift your weight by moving your hips.
  • Your gaze should be level at the horizon. Avoid staring at your feet.
  • Much like bicycling, when your forward momentum increases, your stability increases as well.

SUP Stroke

Once you’re comfortable balancing on the board in flat water, it's time to take off on a longer excursion—where the real fun begins.

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Tier two fun – how stand up paddle boarding can be an ‘after event’ reward

Stand up paddle boarding’s easy right?  Simply jump aboard, begin stroking, and after a few initial stumbles you’ll be propelled forwards with smiles all round. Fast forward a few sessions and by this time you’ll have (hopefully) developed a bit of technique, not be stumbling quite as much and generally enjoying your fun in the sun. But what next?

Look at any high performance SUP athlete and their accomplishments will seem a million miles away from the type of paddling you do. Battling ocean swells to gain serious downwind glides, taking a few heavy waves on the head to eventually snag that one awesome barrel or toughing it out across ultra-distance courses for a shot at the podium. All this just looks hard work at the start of your stand up paddle boarding journey, and in fact, never gets any easier. But it’s the reward post-paddling that counts, not how easy the activity was.

Back to your everyday recreational paddling and this is what can be referred to as ‘tier one fun’. Fulfilment comes quickly, with minimal input on your part. That’s not to say there isn’t any effort, quite the opposite in fact. (We’ve all heard about the health benefits of being atop a SUP so we won’t get into this again). By and large, recreational SUP errs towards the easier end of the spectrum. And there’s no real need to change this unless you’re searching for more…

SUP’s popularity is tangible but after a brief spell paddlers may begin seeking their next challenge – this is typical human nature. In its simplest form, as Robby Naish is quoted, ‘SUP is just standing on a board with a paddle’. The rest is down to us as riders and the environments/situations we choose to put ourselves in. Enter ‘tier two fun’ stand up style.

Picture the scene. The wind’s come up, you’re quite a distance from that original launch point, there’s no get out within your immediate vicinity so the only course of action is to hammer down and fight back upwind. As anyone who’s paddled into gusty conditions will tell you, this isn’t the most idyllic kind of SUP you can do, and is actually pretty relentless hard work. Yet with determination, grunt and a positive mental attitude (combined with a degree of technique) there’s no reason why you can’t cover ground and arrive back at point A.  Sweaty,  tired, and a few pounds lighter.

Hitting the beach in a sweaty dishevelled mess you’ll initially be thankful of touching down upon Terra Firma. But soon enough those positive endorphins will make their way to your brain and in no time you’ll be stoked off your noggin – and an achievement it is. This is ‘tier two fun’: not particularly pleasant during the act but upon reflection super rewarding and addictive. It’s why endurance paddlers keep going back for more, surfers refuse to let a big set get in their way and conquering the elements – if only for a brief period – makes you feel truly alive. Retrospective bliss if you will.

There are plenty of ways to up the ante with your SUP activities and feel the benefits of ‘tier two fun’. Enter a race, step it up in surf, tackle a more challenging route you’ve never before paddled, head out in breezy conditions or whatever you fancy having a stab at.

Self-belief, confidence, experience and skill will play their part in your success – we’re not suggesting you head for the gnarliest conditions you can find with limited paddling ability. A ‘slowly, slowly’ approach is optimum, otherwise you’re heading into ‘tier three fun’ realms which usually results in the emergency services being called!

 

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Why paddleboarding is so popular

orlando
Naked SUP with Orlando Bloom

If there’s a sport that captures this year’s zeitgeist, it’s standup paddle boarding or SUP. Standup paddleboarding has been around for a decade or see, but it is the evolution of inflatable paddleboards that has really supercharged the appeal and development of SUP.  It seems that everyone has been keen to get in on the act this year, with Orlando Bloom paddleboarding naked, Bill Bailey appearing in the Guardian discussing his love of SUP on the Thames, and even Countryfile and Waitrose magazine featuring SUP in 2017.   And there are a number of reasons why SUP is the fastest growing watersport in the UK and the world right now:

  1. It’s accessible. Anyone; young, old, able, less abled are able to get on a board and paddle, as long as the board is the right size for the rider and conditions.
  2. All you need is water. Unlike most other board sports, you can SUP 24/7.  Admittedly some conditions are better than others; sun drenched waters and light winds are particularly appealing.  But SUP is independent of waves or wind.  Although there are speciality boards for racing, or for expeditions, or for esurfing, or for riding river rapids, a single all-purpose board can do all of this reasonably well.  And you can SUP anywhere; river, lake, sea or canal.  So there will always be somewhere to SUP within a few miles.
  3. It’s easy. With the correct board for your size and weight, you will  be up and paddling within minutes.  Even the most balance challengd beginners are stand up paddling within 15 minutes.
  4. It’s a great workout. It’s widely reported that SUP is good for the core muscles, and it’s also great for improving all round fitness; an hour paddleboarding will burn around 700 calories.  And because you’re in control of how hard you work and how far you go, it doesn’t matter what shape you start in.
  5. Once you have made the initial outlay in kit, there are very few ongoing costs. And although the initial outlay can seem significant, buying second hand, or buying smartly can reduce the initial outlay.
  6. Getting close to nature. Stand up paddleboarding puts you right out there to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of nature.  With the water under your feet you’ll find that you have the perfect viewpoint to observe

    SUP with dolphins
    SUP with dolphins

    amazing creatures swimming and moving about below you.  You’ll be able to see birds in action, witness a serene sunrise, paddle through mist, or marvel at a breathtaking sunset. Whether you are on a solo, family, or social paddle stand up paddleboarding connects you with your natural surroundings.

  7. Quality time together. Whether river paddling to lunch in a riverside pub, or paddling down river with your children on the boards, SUP can be very sociable.  You can even bring your dog along for the ride.
  8. Stress reduction. Fed up of busy crowded beaches?  Paddle to that secluded island or inaccessible beach around the headland.  Skinny dipping. Paddle far from the madding crowd, strip, and dive in the water.  SUP is a great way to unwind and relax.  Beautiful sunsets, inspirational sunrises, paddling in amazing places reduces stress and recharges your batteries.
  9. Free dinner. Tie a crayfish or lobster pot net behind the board, add bacon and paddle.  Or take a fishing rod with you.  Easy to find your own perfect spot.  And then grill them up on the beach when you get back.  Probably with a cold beer!
  10. Deflate the board, roll up, and pack away in the convenient wheeled rucksack that comes with the best inflatable paddleboards. No worrying about tired dogsarms strapping the boards to the roof or trying to squash everything into the car.  You can be on the road in a few short minutes after getting off the water.

If these reasons don’t make you want to rush out and get your hands on an inflatable paddle board, then nothing will!

Visit our webshop to find out how easy it is to get hold of great quality, affordable paddleboard kit!

 

 

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How to design a multi day touring SUP board

About 6 weeks ago, we got an intriguing email from someone we didn’t know that just said:  “Are you a UK SUP company? Where are you based? Where are your SUPs made?”

Being pleased that someone had even heard of McConks, we drafted a short reply, saying that we were UK based, and that we designed our boards in the UK but sadly, like all of the other iSUP brands, had to use overseas manufacturers to make them, simply because the supply chain isn’t available in the UK.

We then got an even more intriguing email that said: “I’ve got something that might interest you”.

The emails were from Georgina Maxwell, an outdoors professional and coach. She certainly knows how to generate suspense, because we couldn’t find out what was so interesting for a whole afternoon!  We didn’t know it then, but that’s when our involvement in the #malteseSUPproject began.

George explained why her and three of her close friends were going to be paddling around the three islands of Malta in November 2016. George’s enthusiasm was infectious, and we were sold on the concept almost immediately. There were two things that George said that made our decision to be involved really easy.

– The trip is all about how accessible SUP is. They want to show how easy SUP is, even for their friend Sonja and her battles with Malcolm.  Read Sonja’s blog for more information
– She wanted to work with us because she really valued our concept of providing good honest fantastic quality kit, at an affordable price that made SUP much more accessible and inclusive.

We had been beavering away over the summer designing our lineup for 2017, and an expedition board was already set to be part of the lineup. However a prototype hadn’t yet been ordered, let alone manufactured. We worked with George to refine and improve the design of the explorer board, although we refused point blank to make it in shocking pink as requested! It was then a case of working with our supplier to get the board made as quickly as possible.

So, what was behind the design of the George’s board?

Deckpads are a compromise between non slip and comfort. Some of the most ‘grippy’ deckpads, are fine to stand on for a few hours, but not for days on end. Some deckpads actually make McConks feet go numb after a few hours paddling. We therefore worked hard to find the best compromise between grip and comfort.

The Mediterranean can be quite choppy and stormy in November. The board needed to be easy to paddle, stable, and carry lots of kit. Using 3D modelling we settled on a 12’8 x 31″ x 6″ as being ideal for these conditions.

The expedition will be a multi day expedition which could involve carrying the board, plus the attached kit, a decent distance from the shore. Comfortable handles were therefore a must. We’ve worked hard to make sure there are plenty of handles in just the right place for portage. The added benefit is that they can also be used for additional items, such as the obligatory trombone or trumpet, to be lashed to the handles when short of space. These handles also allow George to haul herself out of the water when her expedition partners decide it’s time for her to swim!

Paddling upwind, upcurrrent in the Med in November can be a real challenge. The board has paddle gloves which allow a kayak paddle to be securely held in place, and attachment points for a SUP seat to allow George to sit when two blades are the only thing that will make headway against a 20 knot headwind and 10 knot current!

A standard US fin box with a 6″ fin designed to keep the board on the straight and narrow is supplied. Two additional Futures Fins boxes allow additional side bites to be plugged in in strong cross currents or cross winds. And allow for the board to be used to ride downwind runs, and to bite into what surf swell there may be.

12'8 board
McConks new explorer iSUP. Now with high pressure fusion enhanced drop stitch technology.

Secure storage was essential. A multi day, long distance trip means that George needs to carry all her kit with her, on the board. We therefore designed two separate storage areas, both fore and aft. We also put non slip strips on the deck under the storage to stop kit shifting about on the water and impacting on board trim.

Transportability was hugely important on an international trip, so a good quality bag was essential. Our new bag is sturdy but lightweight. With supersize wheels, the bag is easy to pull through most environments, whether it be a grassy field or airport concourses. For more difficult or uneven terrain, the stowable shoulder and waist straps are really comfortable for long hikes. The internal straps keep the board secure, and the external pockets allow all the accessories to be kept securely in one place. Chunky plastic zips will not be affected by corrosion, and fastenings inside the bag allow safe storage of George’s 3 piece carbon fibre and bamboo paddle.

The weight of the board was an important factor, and we are super pleased to introduce EDS technology to our boards for the first time. EDS technology stands for Enhanced Drop Stitch, and means a stiffer and lighter board than most other double layer boards. EDS means that the drop stitch is surrounded by an airtight and super-light polymer layer just before the outer PVC is fused to it under high pressure. This all happens at the raw material stage, and gives a much higher quality cosmetic finish with no air bubbles or creases. It also makes the boards a lot lighter than traditional two layer boards and much stiffer than normal two layer technology boards at the same pressure. Other brands call this technology MSL.

This board will be available in early 2017 in a package with our light and powerful carbon fibre paddle for less than £700.  Package price is still to be finalized.  Preorders will be delivered in time for Christmas, so if you’re seriously interested,  contact andy@mcconks.com to let us know.

To keep up to date with McConks developments,  keep an eye on our website , or follow us on @mcconksUK (twitter , instagram and facebook).

To find out more about the #MalteseSUPproject, follow George’s blog here.

 

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