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‘Forrest Gump conditions’ – when weather forecasts don’t always play ball.

We bang on all the time about getting accurate weather info, learning to read a weather charts and interpreting that data for your chosen spot. Even inland this is imperative to not getting caught out when SUPing. If you’re new to stand up paddling then proper weather reports (not just the forecast that comes after the news) can be daunting. And yet with so many available websites displaying info in fairly simple to understand ways it can still remain a quagmire until you actually learn and understand what you’re looking at.

That said the UK’s weather, as we all know, is an unpredictable beast. Whilst every effort is made by forecasters and those designing forecast modelling software our land’s geography, in relation to our European conterparts and surrounding bodies of water, means things can change at the drop of a hat. What predictions tell you for your area don’t always come to fruition. But turning a blind eye to weather info is unsafe so it’s certainly best practise to learn, digest and understand. Knowledge is power after all…

Sometimes though the SUP conditions you actually get on the day at your chosen put in are what you could call ‘Forrest Gump’ esque. In the 1994 film, starring Tom Hanks as a man with an IQ of just 75, there’s a classic line: “My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” To lesser or greater extent this sentiment can be applied to UK weather.

A classic case in point can be reading the a daily chart only to find that gales are forecast with seemingly little chance of SUP in traditional sense – i.e. standing and paddling (windSUP may still be on the cards). But to quote another often used sentence, solidified by Hawaii’s North Shore legend Eddie Aikau’s formidable rep: ‘Eddy would go’ (yep, we’re all about one liners in this article!) meaning if you don’t have a look/see then you could miss out.

OK, we’ll admit. Most of the time weather forecasts do actually prove to be accurate. If it’s predicted to be windy and wet then it most likely will be. But every once in a while you do get ‘Forrest Gump weather’ that doesn’t reflect what the meteorologists tell you, leaving a clear window for a spot of unexpected SUP action… Our advice? Tune in to what’s going on weather wise and when a window opens just go for it!

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How ‘reading’ clouds can you help you determine what SUP weather’s on offer – with ASI’s Glenn Eldridge.

We talk about weather all the time here at McConks. Many newbie paddlers won’t have teh necessary information for being able to read things like synoptic charts and interpret conditions accordingly at their chosen put in. Some may not even know what a synoptic chart is (which is understandable if you’ve never had to use one). Yet the fact remains: if you SUP, whether inland or coastal, you need some grasp of what Mother Nature’s likely to serve you up – from a safety point of view if nothing else.

Just spotted is this informative and interesting post from Master SUP Coach Glenn Eldridge of ASI fame. Here he talks about different cloud formations and how that can help you determine what weather’s on the horizon. Give it a read and then try and put it into practise next time you’re out for a SUP.

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Hot, hot, hot (again!) – weather trend as of July 4, 2020.

It’s almost a carbon copy of last week with regard to the UK’s weather. Whilst it’s not cold per se there’s certainly unsettled conditions in some areas at time of posting. A north/south divide pretty much sums up proceedings early doors but as we head ever closer to the weekend (Fri July 7, Sat July 8, Sun July 9) every indication suggestions high pressure moves in and we’ll see some scorchio conditions again. It may, in parts, get even hotter than last week.

Winds should also, by and large, stay light in most places. Of course, local effects will come in to play. Just because the forecast for your area of interest doesn’t suggest a little breeze don’t think there won’t be any – especially for coastal put ins where sea breezes are prevalent. That said, however, low gust speeds are mostly on the cards so stand up paddling without too much hindrance from Mother Nature should be the go. Best course of action is check predictions each day for the times you plan to go afloat (and where). Then make plans accordingly.

Weather plays a big part with UK SUP – if you hadn’t already guessed. Which is why we talk about it here at McConks. If you’re a newbie SUPer and not used to checking, interpreting and deciding with weather info in mind now’s the time to start. Any paddler with experience will do this to make sure they score good SUP conditions in as a safe an environment as possible. Also, if you’re looking for specific criteria, such as wave heights for SUP surfing then becoming an amateur meteorologist is good practise.

Weather for the week ahead.

It'll be a tale of two halves weatherwise this week…cool and unsettled, then very warm and settled.. here's the detail:

Posted by Met Office on Sunday, August 2, 2020
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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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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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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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SUP hacks, tips and tricks: scoring the flattest possible water to paddle your SUP in wind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Could it? Will it? Weather trend for week commencing Mon 16 March, 2020.

Could it? Will it? SUP weather trend for week commencing Mon 16 March, 2020.

Could it? Will it? The Met Office seem to think it might!

After one of the wettest and windiest weather periods ever it seems the week commencing Mon 16 March, 2020 (next week in case you missed that!) could signal proper spring-like conditions with much less in the way of breeze, much more in the way of sunshine and therefore much more reason to break the habit of hibernation, emerge into the bright and get back on that SUP horse. Well, according to the Met Office, like we said (so don’t shoot us down if it doesn’t materialise!). Check out their ten day trend vid below.

10 Day Trend 11032020

Is there settled weather on the horizon….Here's Alex with the details in this week's 10 Day Trend.

Posted by Met Office on Wednesday, March 11, 2020

If you’ve been yearning for that break in meteorological conditions then now could be your chance. Birds tweeting, blue skies (hopefully) spreading and WAY more motivation to get afloat. This may be the time to kickstart your summer of SUP, 2020.

It’s also a good time to get your McConks SUP order in. Or maybe you’re after some new paddling apparel. Either way this is just the type of weather we love in the UK as it makes stand up paddling all the more enticing.

Check out the McConks SUP shop for deals on stand up paddle board packages, paddles, paddling apparel and accessories. Don’t get caught out by not having the right SUP gear just as the weather Gods serve up some much need winter respite.