Do you get the most pleasure from having what you want, when you want it? Do you get a thrill from being a little impulsive with your money? Or do you get the biggest emotional pick me up from planning wisely, choosing, and then looking forward to something in the future?
These two types of pleasure are described as instant gratification and deferred gratification respectively. Scientific studies of emotion and hormones have concluded that waiting, anticipating, and looking forward longingly to a special treat is what gives most people the greatest pleasure. But we also know that, in general, people are really poor at choosing deferred gratification over instant pleasure. Ask a kid whether they want one sweet today, or two sweets tomorrow, and they’re pretty certain to choose one sweet today (1). As we get older we typically get a little better at choosing to wait, but but we’re still not (in general!) very good at waiting for the pleasure.
So ask most people if they would rather a used, second hand 2018 paddleboard without a warranty right now, for the same price as a brand new one with a three year warranty in January 2019, and most people will choose the instant gratification. And it goes without saying this is the wrong choice for most people, most of the time.
If you’re smarter than most people, and fully buy into the idea of deferred gratification, and can wait until January 2019 or April 2019 for 30% off brand new SUP packages (2), then McConks are for you. If you’re a business wanting to take advantage of our preorder deals, register here. If you’re not a business, contact email@example.com for more information.
If, however, you need instant gratification, and are looking for an instant deal, then use voucher code 128discount2018 on our webshop checkout page for an instant 10% discount (3) on our 12’8 Go Explore boards, or our Polarised floating sunglasses. And we’ll even throw in a free car sticker and helmet sticker!
And if you want to know why we’re offering these discounts, check out the slides below. (and if they don’t work, you can view them here)
If you’re worried about sustainability, and don’t want to buy new, then follow us on facebook, instagram and twitter, as we’ll be selling off some of our demo and rental fleet soon.
(1) So established is this as an economic and scientific principle, that it’s built into pretty much every economic model, future benefits being discounted to account for this perceived lower value in the future
(2) 50% non-refundable posit needed when order is placed by 15 October 2018, remaining 50% payment before delivery in Jan 2019.
(3) only available while stocks last and until 31 October 2018
20 years ago, probably the only people who could get away with wearing shades in winter were skiers, and celebs. Except maybe Bono, who never quite got away with it. Any normal people were laughed at, or called wannabe celebs.
But in recent years, medical understanding of the damage that winter sun can do to our eyes means that the majority of optometrists will now recommend wearing UV400 sunglasses year round.
Although the sun isn’t as hot in winter, it doesn’t mean that the UV rays are any less dangerous. And with the sun sitting lower in the sky and at different angles during the winter, the exposure and damage can actually be greater. Especially if you’re looking at the horizon for an extended period, such as at sports events, or when you’re paddling or riding.
The two highest risk groups are watersports participants and mountain sports participants. Both groups of people typically spend lots of time outside in winter, spending lots of time looking at the horizon, and in an environment that reflects the sun back up (water and snow/ice).
And if you don’t look after your eyes, you can suffer from early onset of a range of eye diseases normally associated with aging, such as macular degeneration.
So get wearing theose shades in winter!
And if you don’t have any yet…
McConks have developed a range of sunglasses aimed at paddlers that are polarised, that float, and that provide all the protection you need, all year round. And they’re sustainable and ethical.
Also check out Moonshine eyewear, another UK company making eco-responsible top quality sunglasses. And they’re sponsoring the SUP Team GB this year.
They get people on the water, standup paddleboarding or SUPing, for the first time ever. Whether it be at a local beach, on a river, or on a lake. Whether it be with family, friends, dogs, or by themselves, cheap inflatable SUP get people on the water. And with all the well documented health benefits that being in nature, being with friends, or being outside brings, this is a massively positive thing.
But if you can buy a budget board for under £300, why does anyone ever pay more? Is it just because they’ve fallen for marketing by big watersports brands? Is it because there is a real difference in quality?
The answer is a bit of both…
Why inflatable SUP boards by big brands cost more
The big brands typically have a big supporting infrastructure – sponsoring developing riders, major events, and grassroots development amongst other value added benefits, all of which are important for the sport as a whole. It’s OK if you don’t feel part of that, and don’t see why you should pay for it. But it is an explanatory factor.
And of course, many of the brands sell through local shops and retailers. who need to make a margin to keep trading. And these shops often don’t make a massive profit: They do it for the love of the sport, and the stoke. We have seen the number of watersports shops decreasing over recent years as they fail to compete with online direct sales, and as the big brands squeeze their margins. If you don’t want to be part of that scene, that’s OK, and as a direct sales brand, we’re not in any position to point fingers! But these shops also provide value added activities, giving advice on places to SUP for example, or allowing you to try lots of boards. And once they’re gone, they’re gone.
But that’s an aside, and doesn’t address the real issue of whether there is a real difference in quality between premium boards and budget boards. And more importantly, whether this difference is important to beginners.
What we’re going to say here isn’t true across the board (pun intended). We’ve seen some expensive boards with dodgy build quality and poor quality accessories in the past. We’ve also seen some great value budget boards that look like they’re made to last and will really generate that ‘I love SUP’ feeling.
We can of course only speak definitively about McConks, but we suspect that many of the differences we’ve seen between our premium boards and some of the cheaper boards out in the wild apply fairly widely. And when you know what you’re looking for, you don’t need an x-ray machine to determine the quality of the board.
Which leads us on to…
Inflatable SUP build quality and design
Many of the budget boards just look cheap. Like a teenager designed them in an arts project. There’s not necessarily a problem with this, especially if you like the design. But a board that looks cheap is normally indicative of a lack of care and attention.
Something that isn’t always apparent from the marketing photos (which are always the best board in a batch), is just how poor quality control can be. We’ve seen budget boards where the deckpad is cut to shape with a Stanley knife when still attached to the board. Believe it or not, we’ve seen some budget boards where this cut has actually gone through into the board itself, meaning that they leak from day one.
You can spot a premium board from the cut of its gib – they have regular and even overlaps at seams. All of the PVC is fully adhered, and they are well cut. Whilst the look of the board might not matter to you in your keenness to get on the water at the right price, those uneven overlaps and irregular seams are indicative of slapdash manufacture, poor quality control. And are probably just the spot where a seam will burst or you’ll spring a leak.
And we’ve lost count of the number of budget boards we’ve seen where fin boxes are glued on at jaunty angles, or in the wrong place. This can really affect how easy your board is to paddle, and how stable it is.
Despite the claims that the whole process is ‘machine driven heat fused blah blah blah’ or other’, the rails, accessories and deckpads are still glued by hand. The precision with which this happens is really important, especially for the side rails, and that precision costs expensive worker time. Also clearing up glue from around the deckpad and fittings takes time if it’s done properly. This doesn’t necessarily affect the performance of the board. If the board is glued with the very best quality glue, then it doesn’t darken over time. But the cheaper adhesives used on many of the cheaper boards darkens in UV if exposed. This might only be a cosmetic thing, but it does mean that everyone can see that your board has been glued together with cheaper adhesive, and in turn affects its resale price.
There is a question about how well the cheaper adhesives last in heat and under pressure. And that’s why many of the cheaper boards come with stern warning about pressure and letting air out of the board if in direct sunlight. Anecdotally, although all brands have had issues with poorly formed seams, the cheap budget boards have a much greater failure rate.
We’ve seen with our own eyes deckpads coming unstuck, or forming massive airbubbles, fairly regularly on cheap boards. As far as we know, we have only had one board from our 16/17/18 lineup where the deckpad has started to lift. And that’s because we specify what glue should be used, and pay the price for it. Ask many budget board manufacturers or retailers what glue they’ve specified, and they’ll look at you blankly. Ask McConks, and we can tell you straight away! And there is a 4x difference in the price between the cheapest and most expensive adhesive used in SUP manufacture.
Although most budget boards use OK quality dropstitch these days, the quality of the PVC layer fused to it, and that makes up the rails (sides) matters. We’ve seen cheap boards with scorch marks from being placed against something metal in 26 degree heat in the UK. Even if you’re careful not to put the budget board up against hot rocks, at higher temperatures the PVC is weaker, and more likely to be punctured by thorns or scratches. And there’s nothing like the workout you get when you’ve put a slow puncture in your board, and you want to back to land before it turns into a banana and becomes unpaddleable!
We know the thermal tolerances of our PVC, and know chapter and verse about where the drop stitch is made. Our PVC is good in direct sunlight up to 40 degrees. That’s because we specified it, not just taking the cheaper alternative that most suppliers offer you. There’s a price premium of course, but we think it’s worth it. If the best the manufacturer can do is tell you ‘it was made in one of the top 4 factories in China’ when you ask questions, be concerned. McConks can get hold of a 10’6 x 32 x 5” double skin fusion iSUP board for £133 from one of the ‘top 4 factories’, and we wouldn’t sell it to our worst enemy!
There are good valves and there are bad valves. The difference in price (to us as a small company) is $2 – $24. We use the ones that cost us $24 dollars. We’ve tried the $2 and a range of others in the past. And there is a reason why we use the most expensive ones. We know they will last for years, that the metal components are made of marine grade stainless steel, they don’t leak, and are quality tested to within an inch of their lives. The last thing a customer should experience is a board deflating when in use.
Fins and fin boxes
Our fin boxes are expensive. We could get hold of fin boxes for our boards at less than $1 for all three. Our side fin boxes alone cost $9 a pair. And we pay close to $40 for our boxes and fins on our Go anywhere and Go explore range of boards. We specify where our fin boxes come from, and pay the price for this.
Because cheap fin boxes crack easily when knocked, or if left out in the cold, or if you blow on them (joke). But the point is that there are good fin boxes and bad fin boxes. Even we have had two fin boxes that have cracked, but one of these was on the whitewater course at the national watersports centre in Nottingham, and one was with a long windsurf fin in force 5 winds with the rider doing about 30 knots. But that’s two out many hundreds, a really low percentage compared to what we see on the beaches and at event. And when fin boxes are broken, it’s really difficult to change them – it’s probably going to cost you as much as your budget board to get them replaced.
We’ve already covered how well adhered / stuck fittings can be on budget boards. But the materials that they’re made from can be an issue as well. When we specify our boards, we specify the quality of PVC of the D-rings, we know where the handles have been sourced from and what the tensile strength of the webbing is, we have tested the quality of our camera mounts (destructively), we know that all of the metal on our boards is made from marine grade stainless steel. We work really closely with our suppliers to get the very best, rather than accepting the bog-standard fittings normally used.
Budget boards typically come with budget accessories. We don’t think this is a real issue for most people buying cheap boards. Most people buying a board for under £400 are testing the waters (pun intended again) to see if SUP is for them. And the accessories can always be upgraded in the future.
Cheap paddles feel a little bit like a lump of dough on the end of a stick. If you try SUP with a cheap paddle and think it’s too difficult, make sure you borrow a decent paddle before you give it up for good.
And likewise with the pumps. If you think you’re too weak to pump the board up, make sure you try a try a top quality pump from a friend first. Some of the cheap pumps have so much friction, they can put your back out before you even get on the water.
So should you buy a cheaper board?
As we said at the start, budget boards get people on the water, and have their place. Anything that gets more people on the water is a good thing. And hopefully many of the new recruits to this wonderful sport will stay, and buy more reliable kit as they upgrade.
So there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying a budget board as long as you are armed with all the facts! And hopefully this article will help you find a better board for your budget.
How can you choose the best budget board?
It’s really difficult. And like we say, not every budget board has all of these issues. Some of them are fantastic value if you get the right board from the batch.
You can always check reviews on facebook or their website. But we’ve seen some pretty dodgy behaviours here by some brands. For example paying people for good reviews, or buying 50 fake reviews on Fiverr for $5. There are some giveaway signs to help you spot these – lots of reviews at around the same time is a tell-tale sign that they have been paid for! Lot’s of cheap pop up companies also claim to sell hundreds of boards every week, or claim to be limited companies despite not being registered in the UK. If a company is selling hundreds of boards a week, but isn’t VAT registered, they’re either tax avoiders or liars!
Asking for opinions on facebook groups is probably more reliable, because at least the groups are moderated. But these groups can be overly influenced by brand ambassadors selling the quality of the brands they are associated with, or shopowners recommending the brands that make them the most margin. But by and large these are relatively easy to spot!
You should also consider the depth of information available on the manufacturers website. If it doesn’t contain detailed information, then the chances are it’s a generic board, mass produced in China with some or all of the above issues. And don’t be tempted by marketing phrases like ‘made in one of the top 4 factories’ or ‘using the latest heat fusion pressed blah blah bah’. Because that no longer means what it did 18 months ago.
What you absolutely should do is try to get out with a local SUP group. They’ve probably got members on boards of all price ranges and will be able to offer friendly advice. You can find your local group using the maps on SUPhubUK.
And never be made to feel ashamed about the size of your wallet. There are a lot of elitists out there who can afford to spend £1000+ on a board, and think you should as well. Just because you can’t, that doesn’t make you a second class citizen! If the group/page/club/shop is making you feel like a lower class citizen, get out of there and find a different one!
So if you really love SUP, make sure you do your research, and get the very best board you can for your budget.
Christmas present advice. To Dryrobe or not to Dryrobe?
Are you thinking about buying a Dryrobe this Christmas? Either as a present for yourself or for someone else? Dryrobes are a great gift idea – who wouldn’t want a warm, waterproof and windproof tent to hide in whilst getting changed? Dryrobes have an excellent reputation amongst their customers, and having tried them ourselves, we think it’s a well-deserved reputation. They’re well designed, well thought out and fantastic quality.
But are there alternatives that are just as well designed and thought out, and just as good quality? We decided to find out?
The minimum requirement, in our mind, was a high quality waterproof and windproof outer layer, and very warm high wicking inner fabric. These requirements mean that we’re reviewing five products from just three companies, The Dryrobe Advance short sleeve, the Dryrobe advance (long and short sleeve variants), the Charlie McLeod Sports Cloak (long and short sleeve variants) and the Palm Poncho Grande.
Changing robe sleeve length
Short sleeve or long sleeve depends very much on preference. Some people prefer short sleeve for easier arm movements to make getting your kit off easier. Some prefer a longer sleeve for added snuggliness.
One of the criticisms we have of the Dryrobe short sleeve is that the wind tends to whistle up your arms in cold weather. The Charlie McLeod has a small and simple design advantage in that it has a push button fastening on the sleeve that allows you to make the sleeve narrower and reduce the gap!
The Palm poncho with no sleeve makes getting changed a little easier (freedom of arms), but this is at the expense of snuggliness.
McConks think that having a zip is essential in a change robe. We love the Palm Poncho for its ease of use, but actually, pulling a poncho over a cold, shivering, tired wet body can be surprisingly and frustratingly difficult. A reversible zip that can operated from either the inside or the outside gives the Dryrobe and the Charlie McLeod Sports Cloak the edge over the Palm Poncho in our opinion.
The Dryrobe and the Palm Poncho are a slightly different shape at the shoulders to the Charlie McLeod. The horizontal shoulder line of the Palm Poncho and the Dryrobe are comfortable enough on the poncho style and the short sleeve robe. But this feels slightly odd on the long sleeve version of the robe. The Charlie McLeod had a more natural fitting that felt more comfortable without impacting on ease of getting changed. And it also meant that you don’t look out of place wearing the robe as a coat!
Warmth and weatherproof
The long sleeve options from both Dryrobe and Charlie McLeod are definitely warmer on those really cold days, and even the short sleeve options keep the warmth in more than the Palm Poncho. All of the products stand up well in very wet conditions with no obvious leaks or wet patches.
But it is worth just thinking about what conditions you will really use the changing robe in. Will you really be out in all weathers? And if not, do you really need the maximum warmth that comes with the long sleeve versions, given extra cost and the loss in function that brings with changing being more challenging with a long sleeve.
All of the robes offer enough room inside to make changing safe and secure. Although they differ in length by up to 20%, we didn’t think the length actually affected ease of changing or modesty preservation at all. All of them were long enough, and none of them felt too long. So the other key features here are how easy the robes are to get on, and how easy to get your arms inside. And all of the products have their strengths and weaknesses in this respect. The longer the arm length, the more difficult it is to retract your arms inside, especially if they’re wet. So in this respect the Palm wins. But the lack of a zip makes the Poncho more difficult to get on or off, so the Dryrobe and Charlie McLeod products score for ease of getting on.
Both the Dryrobe and Charlie McLeod products come with a surfeit of pockets. Both have at least one waterproof zipped pocket, and two internal pockets and two external pockets. The exact configuration differs slightly, with only the Dryrobe having zipped external pockets, but only the Charlie McLeod having zipped mesh internal pockets. All of the products have warm lined external pockets to warm up those cold hands. The lack of internal pockets on the Palm Poncho was not really a concern to us, but the lack of any zipped pockets was. Although the absence of zips at all on the poncho mean that there is less that can go wrong or break.
We like the fact that the Charlie McLeod sports cloak comes with a sturdy double pull string bag that doubles up as a standing mat. We also like the additional microfibre towel that is thrown in. If you want a storage bag for your DryRobe compression bag, you’ll need to fork out another £30, and there is no storage option available for the Palm poncho.
The Palm poncho is the lowest cost option coming in at £69.95. If you’re looking for longer sleeves and a zip, then for £10 more, the Dryrobe advance and McLeod short sleeve options are under £80. But only if you’re a small adult. If you need an XL, you’ll need to pay an additional £40 for the Dryrobe. This contrasts unfavbourably in our opinion to the Charlie McLeod sports cloak who charge a fixed £79.95 for all sizes. And the same is true for the long sleeved versions of the Dryrobe and the Sports Cloak. The Dryrobe is only £10 more than the Sports Cloak if you’re a small adult, but there’s a £30 penalty if you’re an extra large adult.
So which is the best changing robe / dry robe in our opinion?
If you want maximum colour variety then the Dryrobe advance is the robe for you. With the biggest array of outer colours, and the only option providing a choice of inner colours, Dryrobe is the choice that allows you to match your robe to your style or kit.
If you’re a taller or larger person, you get better value from Charlie McLeod or Palm. With a £40 or £50 XL penalty for the short sleeve Dryrobe, the Charlie McLeod offers all of the same features, with a few additional ones of its own at 2/3 of the price.
If you want the snuggliest, most weatherproof option, then the Charlie McLeod long sleeve is 100% the best option. With the ability to adjust the hood, sleeve and waistband, the cloak’s ability to keep the weather out far surpasses the Dryrobe’s. Windsurfers and kite surfers used to rigging in icy, rainy, blowy conditions will particularly benefit
If you want the lightest modesty protector that takes the least space in your luggage, then the Palm Poncho Grande is the option for you.
Are you looking forward to Black Friday , in anticipation of the massive savings you’re going to make buying new gear? Hoping to get the last of 2017 kit at 30% off? Maybe even 50% off?
Before you do, make sure you read these 7 techniques that all of the big brands and retailers use to influence how you buy.
Have you ever played the game where one person says a word, and the other immediately responds with the first thing that comes to mind? That’s kind of how priming works. You’re exposed to one stimulus, and it affects how you respond to another stimulus.
So how does this work in watersports sales?
Notice when you go to an expensive brands website, price isn’t the first thing you see? You might see a stunningly well presented video that shows lots of young, happy paddlers having the time of their lives. Or it might show a stunning carousel of the kit being used in high octane adventurous activities. These things are designed to prime you to something other than the high price point of the expensive luxury goods.
And at the other end, the really cheap budget brands what’s the first thing you see? The price in big red lettering, normally with some sort of discount already built in. So you’re primed to the higher price which makes the discounted price even better. And surely everyone now knows that you never purchase the item on day 1. The trick that every savvy buyer knows now is to register, login, put the desired item in your basket, and then go away again. Invariably with budget brands you will get an email overnight asking why you’ve left the item in your basked and offering you a further discount. And this price then seems even more attractive because you had been primed to a higher price. Just make sure you unsubscribe quickly after the purchase otherwise you will not doubt be spammed every day with their best offers once you’ve succumbed to one marketing trick!
So watch out for these subtle priming techniques. You might not even know it, but the shop or search engine might already have details on your purchasing habits and spending power, your age and location, and be serving up a primed advert or website that is specifically tailored to you.
This is also known as reciprocity and the concept is simple — if someone does something for you, you naturally will want to do something for them. So this might be a free lesson, a free pizza and prosecco evening, or a free board bag. According to the theory, if you’ve ever gotten a mint with your bill at a restaurant, you’ve been the victim of reciprocity. The strength of reciprocity has been tested in numerous experiments, and where the restaurant only met the norm – providing one mint – the tip jumps 3.3%. When the exceed expectations by providing two expense mints per customer, the tip jumps by 20%.
So when you see a freebie – don’t get overexcited. It’s probably not free but actually loaded into the price point, and it’s only there to make you buy.
I’m sure that everyone is aware of the power of social media marketing these days. But brands rely heavily on the power of ‘social proof’. That is the theory that people will adopt the believes and actions of others. You’ve probably noticed this if you’ve holidayed in a location with lots of restaurants / tavernas. One night, ‘restaurant A’ might be really busy and ‘restaurant B’ is totally dead. Despite you knowing full well that the food on offer is equally good, and the menu and prices similar. And yet later in the week, ‘restaurant B’ is full to the which restaurant got the first customers that night. Once a restaurant has customers, then it is more likely to attract customers. And have you noticed that you no longer get offered window seats in restaurants, and you used to be offered them regularly? These are prime marketing material for restaurants, and they try to fill them with hip and attractive 20 something couples.
In the watersports branding world, shares, likes, reposts are all important demonstrations of social proof. So make sure you’re really only giving your social proofing to brands that you’re actually to recommend to your friends!
Oh, and if you do like a brand page and / or share their content just to enter their competition (and who hasn’t), but you’d rather not give that brand your props in the future, you can always go back after the comp to unlike the page or post!
This is the art of generating artificial price points to make the most expensive (or the highest margin to the retailer) seem most attractive. The example below shows how this works.
The lesson here is that those savings aren’t ‘real’, and if you ever did want to buy a board only package, you might that if you talk to the retailer, as the decoy price of £750 is a starting point for a negotiation!
Ever gone back to a product that you looked at yesterday, and which now suddenly says ‘Only 3 left at this price’?
Did you know that some only stores can record your visits and change the message they give you to generate the of scarcity? Admittedly, that’s a whole level of coding and design that most watersports sellers do not stoop to, but it is theoretically possible. But many do employ the scarcity tactic generally “make sure you buy now because this discounted price will only last for the three we have in stock”. And the aim is to make you buy there and then. Beafore you find out that there are better deals out there elsewhere, or alternatively, before they discount the price even more in the week before Christmas because they really need to shift that stock!
Ever wondered why it’s so hard to resist a sale at your favourite SUP retailer?
Often, it has to do with anchoring – people base decisions on the first piece of information they receive. So if your favourite store typically retails this year’s boards for £900, but you find them on sale on Black Friday or at the end of the season for £650, you’ll be over the moon. And using the power of social proof, you will also tell of your friends what a great deal you got. But if your friend has already got as good a board for £600, they won’t be nearly as impressed. That original price has two purposes. Firstly taking money from the early adopters and fashionistas who just can’t wait for the right price, and just have to have the new kit (even if it’s no different to what they already ride). And secondly, it’s a decoy – to act as an anchor to make the discount price seem so attractive.
And going back to a point made earlier, this is why retailers will state the initial price of the product (this is “setting” the anchor), and then display the sale price right next to it, even with a % reduction just to make it totally option.
Some brands contract their retailers to only sell at the RRP until a certain date in the year, at which point they can sell at a discounted price. This is all to do with ‘anchoring’ that price point, and getting that price point widely understood, and making sure that the ‘price means quality’ principle is firmly established.
They’re everywhere these days
Ever first noticed a new brand, and then start seeing it everywhere you look? You can thank the The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. It starts happening after you encounter something for the first time, and then you start noticing it cropping up in everyday life. Suddenly you see friends using the kit that you hadn’t spotted before, and then it appears all over your facebook feed, and in your google search products, and on insta.
It’s weird right?
This phenomenon (also called “the frequency illusion”) is caused by two processes. The first, selective attention, kicks in when you first notice something. You subconsciously look for it in the future, and as a result find it surprisingly often. Secondly, confirmation bias reassures you that each sighting is further proof of your impression that the thing has gained overnight omnipresence.
And this effect is really important to brands. Many adopt something called retargeting, which involves their ads being served up to you tie and time again if you have clicked on their website. And if you have liked something on facebook or insta for example, the algorithms will make sure you see more of the content from that brand in the future. The conbinatin of this effect, plus targeted emails from those brands you signed up to, reconfirms the bias in your mind that they must be reliable companies if they are so ubiquitous!
According to a study by Poppenk, Joanisse, Danckert, and Köhler, people are more likely to remember the gist of what someone said, not the specific details. And in these days of information overload, this is especially true. Brand marketers know this and structure their content in such a way that allows future recall of headlines or throwaway items.
So the content that gets shared the most on social media is short, snappy, and has a snappy headline. Unlike this article. Long reads are definitely out of fashion.
So content these days is designed to search and sharing friendly, and headlines will describe what’s in the article by using a snappy or catchy phrase. This way, when people are looking for more information on a given topic, they’ll think of that one helpful article they read a while ago and Google the topic to find it again.
Hopefully now you’ll be a little bit better equipped to withstand the many ways that retailers try to extract your money from you over the next 4 weeks.
Want to buy the very best and newest kit in 2018? Want new kit that not only helps you SUP better, but actually be a better person, feel happier, and live a more fulfilled life?
Scroll down to find out more...
Have you been looking longingly at new boards, colour schemes and designs?
Does your old trusty board suddenly look a bit dated and faded? You might already be thinking that you can sell your old board and buy a new board with the proceeds. That means that the new board you’ve got your eye on for £900 will actually only cost you £450 - bargain. And this is OK, because your old board will go to a new home – someone who can’t afford a brand new board – so you’re giving something back to the SUP community. Sweet. Everyone’s a winner.
Or maybe you're not going to sell it, and keep it as a spare board, so you can go paddling with friends who don’t have a board, and share the stoke?
But here's the reality for many of us. That board gets used once a year if you’re lucky, and ends up rotting in your shed or back garden, where it becomes your own little guilty memorial to consumerism and marketing. And we can say this from guilty experience. We’ve got sheds full of rotting bikes and bike parts, windsurf kit and surfboards that are our guilty conscience. And even if you do sell it on, somewhere at the end of the chain is an old unloved board rotting away, at best ‘stored’ at a local sailing club or beach, and at worst it will be fly tipped, incinerated or landfilled.
The only certainty for this board is that won’t be recycled at the end of its life.
We’re not shy about shouting about our great kit at McConks. We know that you can’t get premium quality SUP at our prices anywhere else in the western world. You can get kit at the same price, but not at premium quality. Or you can get premium kit at a few hundred pounds more than our RRP. But no-one else offers the same quality at the same price. Fact.
But we REALLY LOVE IT when one of our amazing customers emails us a review like this. And for a sentimental old sod like me, getting a review like this brought a tear to my eyes. To know we have made such a difference to one person is awesome!
Thanks Funky – we love this review, and keep on living the dream!
Why buy a McConks paddleboard?
I don’t normally write reviews or words of thanks but for this company I really wanted to. Ok so I wanted to buy a paddle board last yr 2016 , as a complete beginner and because I never buy on a whim I wanted to find out as much as possible about then and what paddle boarding was all about. I had only seen pics or short video clip. So I searched the web found out loads about all the different boards and what the companies were offering or why they thought there boards were the best or better than some other companies boards out there. I had decided a Pump up board was the way for me to go as this would work better for me and my needs as I wanted it for traveling to Spain and for storage over the winter months.
The info out there was a bit patchy but this company McConks kept coming up when I started googling Qs about paddle boards, as offering advice on what type of paddle board or more about the different type of boards and what may or may not suit my needs as a complete beginner.
I emailed a magazine that done a big review on all the boards out there, and they told me they had heard good things about McConks and their boards, but had not yet done a full feature yet (It turns out that McConks had refused to pay for the review, and everyone else included in the review had paid for the ‘independent’ review!)
And I emailed McConks a ton of questions over a period of around two months; they were always helpful answered ever Q politely and honestly. I could tell Andy was passionate about not only his company but paddle boarding as a whole.
Time ticked on and, although I didn’t commit, I had more or less made my mind up to buy a McConks board. But McConks said that they were bringing out another longer touring type board in late 2016. I was interested is this type of board more as I would be mainly using it for the big lake near where we holiday in Spain. I felt bad not committing but wanted to wait, so unless a great deal came up on Ebay etc I wasn’t sure. But the cheap ebay deals never happened, and the ones for sale were cheap and had rubbish reviews or the “ Second hand boards from ‘named brands’ were just as much if not more than McConks brand new ones ???
Time rolled on to 2017. The new McConks touring board was out and had some great reviews (like all their boards). I contacted the company again inquiring more and asking even more Qs , once again he was so helpful and never pressured me just offered open honest advice.
I took the plunge and brought a McConks board early 2017 , It arrived in a great bag really big and loads bigger than I expected you could easily get a lot of extra gear in there if this is the only bag you wanted to take on holiday. Booked the bag on to the flight as a sports bag, all easy.
Now the review on the McConks board: It did take a fair bit of time to pump it up to the pressure required not ages but you still knew you were pumping it up. This was not a problem and the pump was really good and solid feel to it just took a bit of time; once up it felt really solid. Now being a complete beginner I have nothing to compare it to and I have never been that great with balancing stuff. It felt a bit unstable first of and paddled a bit on my knees , the carbon paddle felt really solid and strong and I’m glad I upgraded to this.
After a few minutes I felt ready to stand up; the lake I’m on is big and deep and there is a fair bit of current from the wind. Yes I did fall in a few times but managed to get back on it without having to swim to the edge. When I got used to it a bit more, I have to say I felt great on it and I am so so happy I went for a McConks board , it seemed to glide really nicely and I’m sure once I get better at it will feel so at ease on it.
Like I say I don’t have any experience on any other board but what I do know is that when I was out on that lake for the first time, I felt so happy that I had chosen to buy this board from this company. Andy had always made me feel like a customer and just wanted to make sure I got the right board for me and what I wanted it for. He never gave me hard sell, yet was sure I would love his boards whatever one I went for. I am sure that as I improve with practice, I will love this board even more than I do now, but to know in my heart how happy I was out there on the water completely at peace and free was worth every penny.
So to sum up I just wanted to say thank you, you never pressured me but you delivered on a product that I’m sure will give me hrs and hrs and yrs of fun and happiness.
Thousands of people search for ‘inflatable SUP’ on Google every day. Many of you are probably looking for advice on the best inflatable SUP to buy. Some common google queries are: What size SUP do you need? Should you get an inflatable SUP or a hard SUP? What are the best inflatable SUP brands? What’s the best SUP for beginners? What’s the best SUP shop?
When you search for these terms, most of the first page of results are review sites, which, at first glance appear authoritative and independent. And there are many more sponsored links on google that are also review sites.
The big question is can you trust them? Here are the top three tricks websites use to trick and influence you. Hopefully armed with the knowledge in this article you won’t spend lots of money on a stinker. Or even worse, a sinker!
1. They’re only there to promote the target board.
There are a number of sites like this, whose sole purpose is to promote a single inflatable SUP board. They can be well written, seem authoritative, and because they review the target board against a number of different well-known brands and makes, seem genuine. The modus operandi is to surround the target board with high quality well known brands (decoys). The target board gets glowing reviews, much better than the decoys. And because the decoys are selected from the higher end of the price bracket, the target board appears to be much better value.
How to spot them: Any SUP review website that concludes with an unknown brand as the star buy, surrounded by lots of well known SUP names is likely to fall into this category. Although since we first published this article in January 2017, a number of sites like this now also include a number of additional small no name brands to counter this claim. Often they’re sponsored ads rather than appearing in the organic search results. But they do often make it into the organic search results because the content seems authoritative and is well written.
Also, check who the author is. If they don’t tell you who they are and what their credentials are, then treat them with caution. In the example below, the domain is registered to an address which has over 500 registered companies operating from it. Nothing dodgy about that is there?
2. They’re paid for clicks or sales by the retailer.
There are a number of review websites that only exist to attract you to their site based on their ‘impartial reviews’, and then direct you to the seller’s site. Amazon, for example, pay review websites handsomely for directing potential buyers to their site. In the Amazon example, these sites will only review inflatable paddleboards sold on Amazon.com, and are therefore not selecting which boards to review on performance or quality, but based on what’s for sale on Amazon. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with this if it’s declared up front, and if the review is declared as a review of boards available on Amazon. Sadly, our experience is that most don’t declare the conflict of interest.
These sites typically use ‘scrape and spin’ techniques to scrape the content for their review from the product webpage, and then respin them so that they’re not identical to the original text (which is viewed negatively by google and so affects whether they appear in google searches). This is normally an automated process, or carried out by cheap labour in Asia, and can often be identified by the bad writing.
Hot to spot them: Are all reviewed products available for sale on the same website? Are they badly written?
And the other way you can spot them, is if they are being open about the fact that the review site makes money from referrals. The text below is taken from one such example. But not all review sites are this honest!
AndysBestSUPReviews.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates.”
3. Magazine reviews with strings attached
You would think you can trust a magazine review right? Well, maybe. Some mags prioritise kit from the brands that advertise with them. Again, it’s all about money. The brands that spend the most money on advertising get the most reviews in some magazines, and also get editorial or advertorial content on how good their kit is. At McConks we’ve had numerous contacts from magazines offering reviews for our iSUP and SUP paddles to be reviewed in ‘free, independent review articles’. The only catch? We must take out advertising with the magazine ‘to be fair to those brands who do pay for advertising’. Now we’re not claiming that the review articles themselves are not objective when they’re published – they might be. But they are incomplete. If the article only reviews boards from big brands who can afford many thousands of pounds in advertising over a year, they are not a review of the best boards available.
One SUP magazine we can guarantee that does not do this is standup paddle mag uk. We’re not saying they’re the only one, but SUP mag uk contacted McConks when we were just starting out, and wanted to try our kit for a truly independent review. All the other magazines that have contacted McConks, or that we have contacted asking for a review, have only offered reviews as part of an advertising package.
Standup paddle boarding is the fastest growing sport in the world right now, and there are many people trying to cash in and make a quick buck on the back of dodgy tactics. We don’t think that’s right, and like to call it out when we see it.
Hopefully now that you’ve read this article you’ll be a little less likely to fall for the dirty tricks used by some.
We’ve said time and again that spotting good from mediocre, or telling bad from outright dangerous, is a little difficult for those new to the sport.
So lot’s of people turn to local shops for advice, which is normally a good choice. However, some retailers might be more interested in the margin that they make on certain kit, or promoting the brand that gives them the most free merchandise, rather than actually providing honest advice. And the one thing most retailers won’t do is recommend you to a direct sales brand like McConks, no matter how good the gear is.
So it’s in our interest to help you make good decisions, and help you spot good from dangerous. And one give away of a cheap lay up is a hockey stick rocker on the nose of the board. Let us explain….
Rocker is the term used to describe the amount of curvature in the longitudinal contour of a boat or surfboard. It comes from the curved bars of metal or wood that rocking chairs used to sit on, which are also known as rockers. The rocker has a really strong impact on performance, and affects stability, speed and turning performance.
On prone surfboards, rocker design is an art, and the terminology quickly gets very complex. Although we often say the devil is in the detail, for the purposes of this article, you don’t need to know the detail. But if you want to know more about types of rocker and the impact on surf performance, this page is a good introduction.
On rigid SUP, rocker is just as important for prone SUP, but the shaper has normally got different objectives / outcomes to a prone SUP. And one important factor starts to come into play that is not so important for prone surfing; windage. SUP riders will nearly always want to travel more on a standup paddleboard that on a prone board. Even those who are into the sport purely for wave riding will want to travel on their SUP occasionally when there’s no swell. And therefore the nose rocker, or the amount the board turns up at the nose becomes really important for travelling upwind. Too much, and you won’t beat the wind, too little and you run the risk of sinking the nose and stalling that upwind glide you’ve battled so hard to get going.
On an iSUP, finely tuned rockers are much more difficult to achieve because of the manufacturing process and materials. You will never get the finely honed shape that a rigid board delivers, and that’s one reason why a rigid board is still the best option for some riders. So when you hear phrases like “sculpted balance flow”, be sceptical. Especially when accompanied by a board that costs less than £500.
Not ‘jolly hockey sticks’, but ice hockey sticks.
And a hockey stick rocker is one that has a significant upturn at the nose. Why is this a bad thing?
It’s symptomatic of poor manufacturing process and poor design. This is the easiest and cheapest type of rocker to provide on an iSUP. Quite simply cutting the top layer of the drop stitch shorter than the bottom layer drives this upturn into the nose. It’s very low tech, cheap and easy to do, but difficult to control. To get a progressive rocker into the iSUP requires more technology, time and prototypes. Therefore a good rocker is more expensive, and not found on cheap boards.
It degrades performance, particularly upwind. Despite what the cheaper brands might say to convince you (“cuts through the chop better”, “well-defined nose rocker enhances the up-wind performance”), none of this is true. If it looks like a hockey stick, you’re going to have a horrible time paddling upwind or cross wind, and the increased windage is going to really affect your stability and progress. As for cutting through the chop better, the upturned nose is just going to get buffeted and bashed, reducing your stability and speed.
So there you have it. If you’re worried about the pennies, and are in the market for lower cost iSUP, try to avoid those with hockey stick rockers!
And make sure you have a look at McConks SUP. Progressive rocker, fibreglass shaft paddle, and all of the other features synonymous with top notch quality, all for just £595.
For more SUP insider knowledge, come and join the SUP insider community on facebook.
For hacks, friendly advice and non judgmental guidance join the SUP hacks community on facebook