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all about the rocker

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

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.

Hockey stick

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.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/SUPinsider/

For hacks, friendly advice and non judgmental guidance join the SUP hacks community on facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/SUPhacks/

 

Progressive rocker. The sign of a quality iSUP
How to spot a poor quality iSUP #1
How to spot a poor quality iSUP #1

 

 

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SUP hacks

Why don’t you join our facebook group SUP hacks?  This is a moderated and curated group of the best of the best on the internet and the best from the SUP hacks community.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/SUPhacks/

Designed to share the very best hacks, advice, guidance.  And our motto is ‘there’s no such thing as a silly question’.  Elitist or cliquey replies are not tolerated.  Just friendly advice!

And if you want to find out more about the paddleboard industry, why not join our SUP insider group.  Competitions, gossip, intrigue and dastardly goings-on are all exposed in SUP insider

https://www.facebook.com/groups/SUPinsider

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Focus on iSUP bags

One of the factors that makes iSUP so attractive to so many people, is the ease of transport.  You don’t need a van or roof bars, and it’s much easier to travel on planes, with the weight of whole packages of top end kit (including paddles) being only 15kg.

But all of this lugging them around leaves them at risk of damage, and can be hard work, so requires a sturdy and easy to use bag.

When we were designing our 2017 kit, the bag was one of the factors that we really focussed on.  So what changes have we made since 2016?

Chunky wheels

Our customers have been taking the boards to some pretty wild places, and the wheels needed beefing up to cope with the rugged terrain.

Comfortable shoulder and hip straps.

And they’ve been being taken to some places where pulling them just wouldn’t work.  Up and down cliff paths, through scrubland, and over hill and dale.  The new bag has very comfortable padded shoulder and hip straps, and chest straps to keep the shoulder straps in place. 

Stowable straps

When pulling the gear, or putting into the hold on planes, you want the straps to be safely stowed away so they don’t get caught under wheels or ripped off by rough handlers.

Easy access.

One of the biggest frustrations with SUP bags is how difficult it is to get the board into the bag.  Trying to manhandle the board into a bag that only opens at the top or that doesn’t open fully is almost as difficult as most men find putting on a duvet cover.  So the entire front of our bag unzips opening up the full compartment.

Front pocket

…for accessories.  This means that the pump and the rest of the accessories don’t take up useful space (for wetsuits, towels, picnics etc) inside the bag.  All standard accessories fit neatly into the front pocket leaving plenty of space for the remainder of your kit.

Coloured zip pulls.

You’re cold, wet and tired.  And the littlest things frustrate you in that mood.  Like trying to find the bloody zippull to open the damn thing…  It’s always the little things!

Paddle storage

The inside front of the bag has an elaticated paddle holder to keep your paddle secure in the bag.  And if you want additional protection your carbon paddle, the McConks CF paddle bag fits inside the bag with the rest of the kit.

Comfortable handles, lots of them

…and just in the right places.  Perfect for manhandling the gear onto conveyor belts, or into the boot of car.  And they’re padded so that don’t cut off all circulation to your fingers!

All of our 2017 range come with these bags as standard.  Head over to our webshop to search our 2017 lineup.

Happy paddling!

 

 

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Is SUP a sport?

Hands up if you think the answer is yes?

By answering yes then maybe you think that stand up paddling has a competitive edge. After all, one of the definitions of the word ‘sport’ according to an online dictionary is:

an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

There are two things within this sentence that may offend your idea of what SUP is. Firstly ‘competing’ may not be (and may never be) on every paddler’s mind. And secondly, participating in an exercise for other’s entertainment couldn’t be further away from what many SUPers are looking to achieve.  Although, let’s be honest, everyone has had their share of moments where their paddling has been entertaining to others.  In fact, most of us have probably had unwitting moments of out and out slapstick comedy:  Embarrasing for us maybe, but great entertainment for anyone lucky enough to be watching from the sidelines. 

SUP racing – coastal

all the fuss is about.

 

As many will be aware there are various competitive stand up paddle events in the UK, across Europe and indeed all around the globe.  Whether they be sprint race, endurance events, Sup bike run, white water or polo  (to name check but a few). The ‘sport’ element of SUP is most definitely covered. And yet, even with stand up events as established as they currently are, we’ve often been contacted by customers who’ve bought our kit who are wondering ‘what next’?

Marketing execs love to push new fads, suggesting the latest thing is ‘the best ever’, ‘a way to enhance your life’, and encouraging you to ‘live healthy’ ‘achieve your dreams, and ‘be the best you can be’.  Of course, seasoned paddlers will know the benefits of SUP, but if you’ve bought into the whole stand up hobby off the back of media hype you may end up wondering what all the fuss is about.

 

Inflatable stand up paddle boards are absolutely the go to gear for anyone wanting to swing a paddle on a board for the first time. But having enjoyed a fun, albeit brief, spell in the summer sun we’ve heard sad stories of a lot of this kit ending up unloved in garages and sheds, getting dusty, being eaten by mice, and only seeing the light of day during family trips to the beach. And this is particularly true for people who’ve been seduced by low quality cheap gear.  Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. (Well the being eaten by mice is. TIP: Don’t keep any inflatable gear at ground level in outhouses unless you are rodent free and rodent proof).  People are free to do as they please. But yet, it’s a shame that many of these new recruits haven’t had the info needed to inspire them and see the huge opportunities SUP has.

Media outlets, blogs such as this, social media groups and information portals do their best to promote stand up paddling and its potential. Unfortunately if you’re not looking for this kind of thing, i.e. performance, then it won’t pop upon your timelines (for want of a better term).

So how do we combat this?

As with many new ‘products’ stand up needs its podium moment, or time in the sun. And articles in the Waitrose magazine, and stories on countryfile are all good exposure, but it’s not the massive explosion of interest it would get from becoming an Olympic discipline for example.

SUP media broadcasting during prime times across multiple platforms would also help. No longer is this TV’s sole domain. ‘On demand’ content is now taking over from scheduled TV listings as the way that most people now get their content.  And maybe the collaboration of brands, mags, event organisers and practitioners to create a single ‘go to channel’ that aggregates the best of the content is needed.  But this requires corporate egos to be abandoned, which is no easy hurdle to cross.

If we look at the sport of cycling as an example.  Cycling has been around for ever, or so it seems.  You’ve probably seen photos of your grandparents or great grandparents cycling to work.  Or of family holidays on bicycles.  But for many years the bicycle was just a means of transport.  And in many developing countries it is still that.  But in the UK and the developed world, cycling is now big business.  It’s one of the UKs biggest and most successful sports, with nearly two million regular cyclists.  Yet only two decades ago it was a minority sport, neglected by the masses and in terminal decline.  It took a concerted effort by two individuals, Peter Keen and David Brailsford to gain UK Olympic success and success in the landmark event for road racing, the Tour De France to raise the profile of road racing.  And two decades later the rest is history.

Unfortunately there’s no real landmark event for SUP to help gain that mass market appeal. There’s the newly formed APP World Tour (previously the Stand UP World Tour/Stand Up World Series), encompassing paddle surfing and racing, but this is a fledgling venture and in the past has been marred by issues. Which is not to say the event organisers are doing a bad job, it’s simply a really difficult job getting financial support and sponsors, and getting the message out in a new sport and new event.  Unless advertisers know that people are going to be watching, they don’t want to invest, and unless the event has the support of advertisers and sponsors, the message doesn’t get out.  And financial support, and a streamlining of the competitive side of SUP is one thing that’s needed.  Not more events necessarily, but better coordinated, organised and supported events.

But this would come at a cost for some paddlers.  Some enthusiasts are drawn to SUP because they see their activity as non-

SUP yoga for the soul
SUP yoga for the soul

competitive, because it’s social and friendly, because it’s different.  Many sports when they’ve become mainstream have had challenges as well as success.  Drugs in cycling being a case in point.  And the increasing tension between drivers and cyclists with more and more of our two wheeled friends on the road.  So mass market success may not be to everyone’s tastes. 

 

SUP is still in its infancy compared to cycling and compared to watersports in general, and the number of paddlers is increasing every day. As everyday paddling skills improve ridall types of physical activity that people do to keep healthy or for enjoyment:ers will look to step up progressively naturally, taking on surf for instance, or longer distance routes. And as the sport grows, it will become easier for new practitioners to find inspiration from their peers. In tandem stoke will spread and permeate organically through social groups, mainly by word of mouth but also through social media. Albeit in a slow burn manner, Joe Public will hear the siren call of SUP (hopefully), buy that quality SUP and paddle, and know what he/she is meant to do with it.

We can all do our part as ambassadors for the sport. We’re always amazed with just how many people stop us and ask about SUP, about our boards, about whether it’s safe for kids,  about how difficult easy it is, about how cool it looks, about how happy our boys look.  And we often lose many hours at the start or end of paddles just chatting away.  But these hours aren’t lost.  They’re all in aid of promoting the sport.

And being the happy friendly community that SUP is, I’m sure the rest of you are all doing your bit at your local put-ins, and in your social lives.

And if you’re the type of paddler who sees SUP entirely as a fun, social, low impact way of enjoying the environment and the pleasures and health benefits of simply spending time on water, does that mean that you’re not partaking in a sport?  No, there’s an alternative definition of sport according to the Cambridge dictionary:

a game, competition, or activity needing physical effort and skill that is played or done according to rules, for enjoyment and/or as a job: a game, competition, or activity needing physical effort and skill that is played or done according to rules, for enjoyment and/or as a job: a game, competition, or activity needing physical effort and skill that is played or done according to rules, for enjoyment and/or as a ja game, a competition, or activity needing physical effort and skill that is played or done according to rules, for entertainment, and/or as a job.”

or

“All types of physical activity that people do to keep healthy or for enjoyment

So, to answer our original question, is SUP a sport? Absolutely yes. Even if you don’t compete.

(1)  http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/sport

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Whitstable SUP & McConks

Whitstable SUP
Whitstable SUP

They say you can you choose your friends but not your family.  So the friends you choose say more about who you are than your family do.  And as a SUP brand, although anyone can buy and use our products, its the companies that we choose to call our partners that say a lot about us as a brand.

And on that note, we’re totally excited and thrilled to say that Whitstable SUP is our latest partner.  Like McConks, Whitstable SUP is a small, young company filled with a passion for SUP and sustainability.  For who. having satisfied customers, and enjoying time on the water is more important than more mundane things like making money.  Based, (unsurprisingly) in the beautiful Kentish coastal town of Whitstable, the company provide instruction and guided tours on the Swale and the River Stour.  Both locations, being protected by the Isle of Sheppey are perfectly safe environments for beginners to learn SUP.  And stunningly beautiful.

Lucy Boutwood, the founder of Whitstable SUP, is a qualified SUP instructor, and is often seen on the water with Elmo, her trusty Daschund.  When Lucy was looking for a new SUP provider in 2017, McConks were one of a few possible brands to consider.  After a test paddle on a wet and very windy February day on the River Thames, it became apparent that McConks and Whitstable SUP were a partnership made in heaven.

What does our partnership mean?

Well for Lucy and Whitstable SUP, a fleet of new boards allowing more people to learn to SUP and to explore the beautiful environs of Whitstable.

For Lucy’s customers – great learning and development platforms and paddles.  And a refund of the instruction fee if they buy a board from McConks

For McConks the knowledge that we’re working with a great company that we admire. And of course, the chance for more people to get to try our boards.

Find out more about Whitstable SUP here.

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SUP hack: separating a stuck stick

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.

Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly
Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly

We’ve just been listening to the back catalogue of an old friend of McConks.  Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.

Not a friend as in someone we know personally, but a friend in the sense of someone who we’ve known for a very long time, whose advice we admire, and who makes us smile whenever we experience them.  Sam Duckworth, the brains behind Get Cape now goes by the name Recreations, and the music is just as great.  But we’ve been following and listening to Sam for many, many years, and some of the early stuff really brings back memories.

And really makes us think.  One song that really chimes with us is the eponymous song Get Cape. Wear Cape.  Fly.  And this lyric sums it up:

“Open your eyes and you don’t need to buy.  You don’t need to be a coathanger for a corporation in a market that’s lost the plot”.

Consumerism can be the enemy of the environment, of social justice, of equality.  Especially if companies are driving change for change sake – changing fashions, changing colours and pushing consumers to buy a new product every year.  When this year’s product is exactly the same as last years, just a slightly different colour or style.  Or when products are made to fail at the end of their warranty period.  Or with cheap products that companies know are not good enough quality, and most people will only use for a short period of time before buying a product that actually works.

All of these things are rife in the world of SUP.   And that’s what different about McConks.

Our boards and paddles are designed with the very best of every component, and made to last for year after year.

We only make products where we offer something different.  So we know that no other company makes packages and paddles of the same quality as us, at the same price point, and with the same ethics.  It’s why we don’t for example make branded t-shirts.  We couldn’t do anything that’s different in price, ethics or quality to what’s already on the market.  And it’s why we don’t, for example, put free car stickers in our products.  Only a small number of them would ever be used, some of them would become litter or be fly posted,  and most would go to landfill.

Ethical products

We only use suppliers who have demonstrated their environmental and worker welfare credentials to us.

But we’d like your thoughts on changing colours and designs.  For 2017 we have kept our great board shape, but have improved our components and manufacturing process as technology improves.  And in doing so we took advantage to change our colours and cosmetics as we weren’t happy with the design of our 2016 lineup.

Were already looking forward to 2018 and what our 2018 lineup will look like, and we’re thinking we should keep our styling, colours etc the same.   That will help break the constant upgrade cycle that other brands rely on, and will reduce our impact on the environment.  We will be bringing new products into the lineup, but this will be about sizes and types, and innovation, not just colours and cosmetics.

But what you think?  Is it important to change colours and style to keep things fresh? Or are our instincts to keep styles the same correct?

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Focus on… McConks Carbon SUP paddle

Carbon SUP paddle | Bamboo SUP paddle | 3 piece adjustable SUP paddle

In an ideal world, every paddler would have a whole plethora of paddles.

mcconks inflatable white water sup
Whitewater paddling

One for racing, one for surf, one for whitewater, one for training, one for travelling etc.  And each would have different size and shape blades, different angles of attack, different amounts of flex in the shaft, and different length shafts.

 

We’ve already told you how important the paddle is in a previous article.  It’s your SUP engine, and critical to your performance.

 

Surf SUP paddling

However, most paddlers can’t afford a multitude of paddles, and either need to stick with the one that was bundled with their SUP package (normally a heavy aluminium or alloy thing without much going for it!), or, supplement it with a specialist stick that is tailored to their most frequent type of paddling.

But, you don’t need to do that with McConks. Our 3 piece adjustable 100% carbon fibre paddle packs an awful lot of performance and versatility into a low price of just £150 delivered to your door.

To put this into perspective, equivalent paddles with the same versatility from the big brands are at least 50% more expensive, and aren’t as light as our 100% carbon fibre paddle. For example:

  • Red Paddle’s equivalent paddle is heavier, has a less streamlined connection between the blade and stick, and racks up at £229.
  • Fanatic’s equivalent (at 80% carbon) is heavier and comes at an eye watering price of £309.

So if you’re after versatility, a one paddle for all environments performance paddle, and you don’t want to break the bank, you should buy McConks.

Paddle features

Versatility

The best thing about this paddle is its versatility. The design allows it to be used for flat-water touring, taking on choppy ocean water, whitewater or surf.   The lightweight nature makes it easier to pick up a faster cadence and that will improve your glide and speed.  It will also allow you paddle for longer without fatigue and reduce your risk of injury or aches.

protective SUP paddle bag

Being 3 piece, it fits into your iSUP bag, and is great for overseas adventures. The super light paddle reduces your overall carrying weight, and the heat resistant padded protective carrybag (which also fits inside the McConks iSUP sac) protects your pride and joy from all sorts of nasties.  In fact, our McConks 12’8 Go Explore package (our biggest and heaviest board) is only 16kg for the whole package if you opt for the carbon fibre paddle.

 

The adjustable handle allows you to optimise stick length for your paddling environment; shorter for surfing, longer for race etc.

And the perma grip clasp system means no slip or twist when paddling.SUP paddle

Size

The precision engineered blade is a single size medium cadence blade. The blade shape is slightly longer and slightly narrower than many of our competitors.  The differences are tiny but really improve performance. In particular the shape allows it to enter and release from the water faster and more smoothly than others, but still deliver the same amount of drive.  And the slight dihedral on the power face reduces paddle flutter to make the drive force more efficient.

And the 9.2 degree blade angle is a perfect compromise across the range of paddling environments.

The medium cadence shape has been selected to cover the widest possible range of paddlers and environments. If you’re 6’8 and wanting to stand on the podium, you probably need a larger blade, but for most paddlers, most of the time, this is ideal.

Weight

At under 650 grams this is one of the lightest paddles in its class, and definitely the lightest at the great price of only £150. Which makes it a very affordable premium paddle.

Shaft

The 100% 3k carbon shaft is light and strong. It’s a simple radial cross section to give maximum strength and stiffness.

The handle is also 100% carbon fibre, and is ergonomically moulded for comfort over long and powerful paddles. In fact most people who have used more expensive padded handles have commented that the shape of the grip is just as comfortable as the padded grips, if not more.

The length of the paddle is adjustable from 170cm to 220cm. This makes it highly versatile and can be shared with family and friends.  And you know those really difficult upwind, upcurrent paddles where you end up kneeling just to make headway?  Well you can shorten the handle to a perfect length for kneeling.  This has been a really popular feature for serious expedition paddlers.

Don’t think you can afford an elite performance carbon SUP paddle?  You can with a McConks.  You get all of this for just £150.

If you don’t believe us, then maybe you’ll believe others.

Check out our reviews…

…on Amazon

…from experts

…in Standup Paddle Magazine UK

or from our customers

If  you’re still not sure, then you’ll be able to try our paddles and our boards at our demo centres from April onwards.

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“Going training”: SUP speak for paddlers

 

People have been using slang, jargon and colloquialisms for many years to reinforce identity and exclude outsiders.  And it still goes on now.  You know that feeling when you listen to a politician or Chief Exec on the news, and despite hearing all the words you still can’t quite understand what they’re saying?  Or when you hear teenagers using words that you know, but with a totally different meaning? That’s because it’s designed to only mean something to an exclusive group of people ‘in the know’.

Are we any different as SUP’ers?

Since SUP’s inception there have been many people happy to play fast and loose with the English language.  And there are a bunch of words of phrases now (too widely) used. Often out of context or incorrectly and in the wrong setting.

‘Waterman’ (should that be waterperson?) is a perfect example.  The term is bandied around willy nilly, suggesting anyone attributed with the tag is a larger than life superhero willing to put their own mortality on the line; charging head long into extreme oceanic situations that will leave many running for cover. Simply paddling around on flat water doesn’t really cut the mustard.

Watermen?

You might get away with being classed as an enthusiast, but definitely not a waterman.  And it doesn’t matter what your tee slogan says.

Another word we’re hearing used incorrectly a lot of late is ‘training’. You might have done it yourself:

‘Bye love, I’m just heading out for some SUP training. Back for dinner’  when actually you were just going for an evening paddle.

If you’re fortunate to SUP in an area where there are other stand up paddlers in abundance you’ve probably been asked:

‘What are you training today?’

“Nothing mate.  I’m just having a paddle. And enjoying myself.  Why don’t you do the same rather than taunting me about training.” we often think but never actually say!

There’s also the issue of all the Hawaiianisms.  SUP is a surf sport as much as a paddle sport.  Surf, as we all know, originated in Hawaii, and there is a strong emotional pull towards Hawaii for any surf enthusiast (or should that be waterperson?). And using Hawaiianisms (and being able to play Somwhere over the rainbow on a Ukelele in the style of the giant Israel Kamakawiwo’ole) helps define you as a surfer in the eyes of other surfers, and reinforce that connection.  And maybe make people think that you’ve been to Hawaii.  And maybe even that you’ve surfed at Waimea.

Therefore expect to hear ‘Aloha’,

injected into sentences at any given opportunity.  Throw a hang loose shaka in the mix for maximum effect and hey, ‘it’s all good brah! Aloha’.

Surf speak has been around for aeons. Those gnarly dudes among us have charged sick pits since they learned what a ‘throaty keg’ actually was. And while there will always be characters whose surf lingo sits comfortably with them, the fact is that the vast majority outside of SoCal will probably sound like a cringe worthy try hard.  Cityboys/girls reciting tales of dredging lefts and/or death slabs just doesn’t come across right. Maybe swap the suit first? And ditch the latte – watermen (and women) drink guava juice…

And it’s not only wave heads. ‘What’s your cadence across a mile sprint, dude?‘Hammer (buoy) time!’ Yep, wannabe racers (some of whom might actually be actually non-racers) are guilty too.  SUP certainly has adopted its fair share of surf speak but there’s definitely an added element of broism brought on by swinging a paddle (or should that be SUPisms?).

Photo Credit: supracer.com

Of course, when describing certain elements of stand up, it’s hard not to use certain terminology. And there’s nothing wrong with actively becoming part of a global movement – either through wearing the threads, rocking the kit or whatever. Sometimes though forcing the issue just becomes painful. Plus we’re Brits (or Scots, English, Irish and Welsh), not Hawaiian.

Letting rip with ‘staying loose’ in the pouring rain, gale force winds puffing harshly onto frozen skin (you’ll definitely be wearing boardies if you’re into SUP, come hell or high water) just doesn’t fit the marketed brochure shot pushed hard by those selling the dream.  Hypothermia aside, grey/brown water and temperature readings barely in double digits doesn’t really instil enthusiasm for those not yet indoctrinated. ‘What is it you do again? Gnarly what?’

At McConks we try to dispense with jargon, and to speak in plain English. So if we don’t do that, please call us out; embarrass us on social media.  SUP should be inclusive,  not exclusive.  And we want to be part of the cure from jargon, not the cause.

For now we’ll dispense with trying to promote ourselves as tropical SUP warriors, battle hardened and ready for some serious race training, hanging ten, or ten rounds with Mother Nature in the surf arena. Instead we’ll sip tea, remain stiff upper lipped and enjoy punting around our local lake.

To clarify: if you hadn’t already guessed, much of the above was written with tongue planted very firmly in cheek. Aloha.