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Buying a budget inflatable stand up paddle board – tips on getting it right.

For anyone looking to buy a new in inflatable stand up paddle board we’d suggest going as premium as you can, for various reasons: longevity and performance being two good ones! We appreciate, however, that whilst we’d consider McConks to be affordable not everyone has the funds to buy from us, let alone any other brand who charges more. In this instance we understand that something costing less will be your choice.

Most budget boards are perfectly acceptable if you get the right size for you. Also, a 6″ thick (or 5″ if you can find them and it’s not totally bargain basement) board will best serve your needs. There is a higher failure rate, and not all of the failures are evident on day one. Pressure testing the board from the moment it arrives is good practise. If it doesn’t lose air over 3 or 4 days then you’ve got a better chance of it being one of the good ones. Also check that there are no bits coming unglued (e.g. no deckpad lifting, D-rigs are firmly adhered and fin boxes). Make sure the seams have a regular overlap all the way around, because less overlap areas are where it’s more likely to fail. If you do manage to be teh owner of a good one then it could last you as long as a premium board. In time you may decide an upgrade is applicable but in the short terms something that allows for maximum fun on the water is what you’re searching for.

If you want any further advice about what makes a good inflatable stand up paddle board then get in touch. Good luck!

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No hassle fin set up – attaching your McConks SUP centre fin in six easy steps.

We’ve talked about the simplicity of McConks’ Click Fin side fin system, which you can read here. If your McConks inflatable stand up paddle board has a US Box (single leading edge mounted screw head) then it’s just as hassle free to attach. Here ‘s how in six easy steps –

Place the screw plate in the box track via the gap at the centre of the fin box. We find that screwing it to the fin bolt first and using the fin bolt to drop it in place works for those less dextrous poeple (like us!)

Slide the screw plate towards the front of the box along the plate track. Again, you can use the fin bolt to do this if still attached, or if your fingers struggle to get in the box. (Note, if you are using one of our specialist 4.7″ river fin you’ll need to slide the screw plate backwards)

Slot the fin pin into the gap – make sure the fin’s the correct way round. Its angle (rake) should be leaning back towards the tail.

Slide the fin back towards the tail (or forwards towards the nose for the 4.7″ river fin) a short way to ensure it’s firmly secure in the track.

Rock the fin forwards and line up the screw hole with the screw plate you attached earlier.

Using your thumb and finger turn the screw until tight.

Once you’ve affixed the centre US Box fin you can tune according to your wants and needs by moving it forwards or backwards. Rule of thumb dictates the further forward your fin in the box is the more manoeuvrable your SUP will be. The further back you have your fin the less manoeuvrable it is. You can also change the ‘feel’ of your inflatable stand up paddle board by changing the size of your fin. Experimenting with different configurations is always worth doing to find your best fit.

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SUP hacks, tips and tricks – stand up paddle board leash attachment options.

SUP hacks, tips and tricks – alternative stand up paddle board leash attachment options.

Leashes, or more accurately what type of leash for the environment you’re paddling in, have been talked about for years. If you’re SUP surfing at coastal venues then a straight leash is considered the go-to whereas river paddlers will be wearing a quick-release belt at the waist.

But what about if you’re paddling flat water recreationally? Should you go straight surf leash or coiled?

Ultimately your leash is a way of keeping you in contact with your stand up paddle board and therefore a safety feature of stand up paddling. But leashes can get in the way, particularly when stepping back to pivot turn. Leashes can also slip off your SUP’s deck and cause inefficient forwards momentum.

One solution could be attaching your leash to the board’s centrally-located carry handle. On some hard boards there’s a leash plug in the same place. As long as you’re not paddling in performance SUP environments then adopting this form of SUP tethering should be no issue. It may feel odd at first having your leash in front of you but quick smart you’ll get used to it and be enjoying a snag-free ride.

If you have side/rail handles you could also try fitting your leash here as well. Experimenting with SUP settings a sure-fire way to discover your optimum and what suits your SUP scenario the best.

Don’t forget to keep your SUP tricks, hacks and tips coming.

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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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SUP hacks, tricks and tips: home paddling edition.

SUP hacks, tricks and tips: home paddling edition.

As part of our ongoing series hacks, tips and tricks for stand up paddle boarding, and combined with our recent post about virtual SUP holidays/trips, we thought we would share a few ideas about how to keep paddling at home.

There are lots of videos doing the rounds on social media about how to achieve this currently but in case you’ve missed these here are McConks’ top ways of achieving virtual SUP Nirvana in your own domain.

Bungee

Probably the easiest way to get some resistance on your SUP paddle shaft is attaching some bungee chord. You’ll need a firmly fixed point to actually attach the bungee at one end. And then paddlers will need to locate the fulcrum point on their paddle shaft. Too low or too high and it won’t work. Raising yourself off the ground will help with clearance if you’re going to be using an actual stand up paddle board paddle – more on this in a mo.

If you want to increase the power, and you have long enough chord, doubling up the bungee will increase resistance. Whatever you do make sure that both the end attached to a fixed point and the end attached to your paddle is solid. The last thing you want is the bungee pinging back and spanking you in the face!

Elevation

An inflatable board is perfect for a spot of virtual home SUP. Unlike a hard board you don’t need to be ultra-careful not to damage it. Obviously, though, remove the fins! It’s then worth raising your SUP up a fraction to help with paddle blade clearance. You also don’t want to damage your blade!

IMPORTANT! Make sure whatever used to raise your stand up paddle board is solid and not likely to collapse, fail and cause you injury. You can use a trellis system, bricks or even a wobble cushion more commonly paired with balance boards. And speaking of balance boards: if you’re particularly cat-like then placing your SUP on top of balance board and using in the same way atop a roller will further enhance your experience. Again, if you do opt for this then BE CAREFUL! Attach your SUP to the balance board via roof rack straps. Just make sure they’re tight enough.

If you haven’t seen McConks’ awesome balance boards, made by the amazing Daddyboards, then check them out. If you want an additional training tool for SUP, or just fancy something for messing about on whilst improving your balance, then head over to the shop and the balance board page – https://mcconks.com/shop/technical-sup-clothing-sunglasses-rashvests-recylced/balance-boards-by-daddyboards/mcconks-balance-board-by-daddyboards/

Additional ambience

If you want to take things a step further then you can add additional ambience for enhanced land SUPing. We’ve seen virtual reality headsets used but that may be too techy for many.

Getting the hosepipe out and having your kids or partner spray you with wet stuff is an obvious one. If no hose to hand then get a bucket of water chucked your way. Just don’t blame us if they decide to also lob the bucket at you! (Fortunately, the UK’s weather at the moment is sublime so getting a little damp is no issue – you’ll dry off quickly).

Looking to Easter Weekend

Some showery rain is likely this #Easter weekend, and as cooler air moves in there will be a drop in temperatures too, though it will still be warmer than average for most.Despite some fine weather, remember to #StayHomeSaveLives

Posted by Met Office on Wednesday, 8 April 2020

We also talked about using sounds from apps like Spotify and radio.garden in our virtual SUP holiday post. It’s the same with virtual home SUP in general. Ambient sounds of the sea or other can help create an atmosphere fit for stand up paddling – whatever floats your boat, er SUP, really.

Let us know your tips for home SUP or stand up paddle boarding in general.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pic Credit Ben Arthur, Cotswold Water Park Trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUP sunrise

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

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

Go free wing SUP board

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

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

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

Am I likely to be paddling with others?

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

SUP safety – you need to consider it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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