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The wait is finally over. It’s here. Brand new for 2018

New for 2018

Be a happier paddler in 2018

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 try to do things differently at McConks. Find out more here.

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Go with the Flow. Making whitewater SUP easy

Go with the Flow!

We've had an exciting couple of weeks testing our new whitewater SUP.  As everyone surely knows by now, inflatable SUP are the best SUP for whitewater.  Being so rugged and robust, yet also very light, nothing beats inflatable SUP in whitewater.

And just to prove it, here's a vid of Team GB freestyle stuperstar Matt Stephenson using the board at the whitewater centre in Nottingham (Holme Pierrepont, National Watersports Centre).

When we set out designing our whitewater board we gathered a team of whitewater experts, from the kayak, canoe and paddlesport fields, and asked them what was missing from current boards, and how current boards on the market needed to be improved.

And the responses we got then underpinned our design.  The most important features were:

  1. A wide stable platform, with a deckpad that extends all the way from the nose to the tail to allow movement around the board.  Or so they said.  We think the real reason was to provide added protection for the 'transition movements' between standing and swimming.  We've designed our board to be 36" wide and 9'8 long - the length is a compromise between longer length for stability and forward momentum, and shorter length for river surf and manoeuvrability.  The reviews we've had from our prototypers, which range from experts to beginners have confirmed that the width and length provide huge amounts of stability when on whitewater and the design, in particular the rocker profile and the hard edge, allows it to still be really maneuverable.  One tester commented that it had an unprecedented amount of secondary stability for an inflatable board.  Heady stuff!
  2. Handles.  Lots of them.  These serve two purposes.  Firstly, handles in lots of different locations are good for self recovery and protection.  No matter where you are in relation to the board, you need to be able to reach a handle.  And this needs to be true for shorter people and beginners as well - more than one awesome female paddler pointed out that handle placement on all other whitewater boards made recovery more than challenging for them.  And secondly, they need to make it easier to get the board into and out of the water, and up and down steep river banks. Of course, this needs to be balanced against the risk of entrapment, and so the handles need to be reasonably tight to the board to prevent feet getting trapped.
  3. Full length deckpad.  The deckpad covering the whole board is a massive confidence booster giving you somewhere soft to land, whilst enabling you to paddle the board backwards if you get in a real pickle.
  4. Rocker and waterline.  The board has been designed by computer modelling, and then optimised through protoyping to ensure that the board is amazingly responsive but stable no matter where you stand (or are thrown to!) on the board.  Although this board is not a specialist river surf board, the sporty progressive rocker allows riders to drop into waves, and the responsiveness of the board when on a run allows you to get to those waves when you see them.  The stomppad and tail rocker shape means that the tail is responsive and easy to sink despite the board's width.
  5. 4+1 fin boxes and proper river fins.    The centre box is a standard US centre box, meaning you can use pretty much any aftermarket fin you want.  And the side fin boxes are FCS compatible click fit boxes from Kumano.  That means you can use normal FCS fins if you choose.  But why would you want to with the fins that come as standard?  We provide three centre fins, 8", 4.7" and 3" depth fins, all flexi and capable of withstanding significant bumps and scrapes.  We've reduced the depth on the 4.7" and 3" fins to reduce the risk of that 'superman' moment when fins catch a rock.  But we've maintained overall surface area by sweeping the fin behind the fin box.   And the same is true for our 4 x 1" side fins.  These have a very low profile, and large surface area for the depth due the swept back profile.

And we also spoke to riders about paddles, and how paddles could be improved.  And almost universally they said carbon shaft, polypropylene blade.  The carbon shaft for stiffness and the polyprop blade for robustness and damage protection in rocky waters. But they also wanted to be able to have a carbon blade or fibreglass blade for when touring.  So we came up with an interchangeable blade system that allows you to choose what blade you want in your carbon shaft.

And just to prove yet again how easy this all is, here's another vid of Matt Stephenson showing us all how it's done. And a more realistic video of a whitewater SUP noob demonstrating that anyone can have fun on the right boards and right conditions!  In fact, in one of the boards trial runs at the National Watersports Centre, a total SUP noobie (experienced whitewater paddler, but had never stood on a SUP before!) managed to run all of the features but one without swimming.

 

 

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Inflatable SUP paddle board for beginners

SUP noobs

Are you a SUP noob?

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

It’s well known that SUP is great for both physical and mental health. It delivers a full-body workout and has become a popular cross-training activity. In fact, that’s how modern SUP evolved: The great Laird Hamilton was looking for more fun ways to cross train when there was no surf or wind, and modern SUP was born. And compared to other paddlesports, it works the core muscles more rigorously because of the standing position, and you have the benefit of the views that come with a standing position.

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

SUP Gear

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

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

SUP board

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

Paddle

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

PFD (Personal Flotation Device)

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

Proper clothing

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

Leash 

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

Sun protection

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

SUP Techniques on the Water

Getting on the SUP

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

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

Staying on the SUP

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

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

SUP Stroke

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

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Boardin Skool & McConks | McConks SUP

McConks sup Boardin akoo?

We asked a few of our bigger customers (number of boards not weight or height of customer) for a couple of words about McConks – why they choose us, if they were happy with our service, with our kit etc.  We were only really expecting people to complain. After all, it’s a given that the customers most motivated to respond to surveys are those who have an axe to grind. So we were expect lots of comments that would help us to improve our kit and our service.

What we weren’t expecting was the outpouring of, dare we say it, love.  We can’t post all the comments because it just appears self indulgent. And following the “if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably a subject” school of thought, then it probably would be rather self indulgent and boring.

But, this review from the lovely Adam and Jenny of Boardin Skool, was too lovely, and we thought you would allow us to indulge ourselves just once with a self congratulatory pat on our back. Of course, when you’re based in a beautiful part of the world, as Adam and Jenny are, and when you’ve got a dream business making people happy, it’s a lot easier to write positive happy reviews! But it’s fair to say Adam really knows his paddlesports. One of the most qualified British Canoe instructors in the UK (one of the very few level 5 instructors), Adam also sits on the newly inaugurated technical panel for SUP at British Canoeing.

But enough introduction, this is what they had to say:

Hi. My name is Adam Williams and my Wife (Jenny) and I are the proud Directors at Boardin Skool. We are a family run business that grew from passion for the sport of Stand up

Boardin skoolpaddleboarding and a healthy love for windsurfing, and paddle sport too.

Boarding skool has been in full flow for 3 years and we have been sup’in our way around the scene on most boards out there. We have moved from solid based boards, to some other makes of ISUP but found our feet 18 months ago we used our first Mcconks board. We used the 12’8 Go Explore board as a part of our source to sea expedition, which covered over 140 miles of Norfolk Broads, Sea and estuary, on, an out and back expedition. Our boards were loaded for a full 5 days and I had the McConks ISUP on this expedition. The boards were fantastic. it tracked well, effortless paddling with fast releasing rails and stern, and the board turned really well too both loaded and unloaded . We found the board to be extremely well balanced with expedition gear and without. the soft deck panel was substantial enough to manoeuvre around on and !!!! never lost grip however wet the board become.

Equally without being loaded Jenny (the real boss) paddles the McConks boards with our 3 year old on the front with ease and comfort, (even though wriggling around is his favourite past time). From a ladies perspective, they are light to carry, easy to transport, and well balanced for women with and without buoyancy aids on to get back on to.McConks sup Boardin akoo?

This made purchasing our new fleet of 9 boards for boarding skool an easy task back in the summer. I contacted Andy and was greeted with the same passion we share for board sports and an interest of who we were and what we do. Boardin Skool placed an order for 9 boards pre season and we have not been disappointed. The customer service has been quick, reliable and honest, and most important for us was we could talk to McConks on the phone as well as emails. This ensured we had the right product for the right purpose.

The boards have had a HEAVY summer, we have paddled WW, Surfed, countless taster sessions and Hire…. And they McConks supstill look as good as new. We have just taken delivery of the new Windsup and as soon as the wind blows jenny and I cannot wait to get out to give it a thorough blast across Norfolk’s finest coastline and Broads.

We have not been disappointed at all with our fleet, the performance or the durability. Totally proud to be supporting an British based product and excited about the future for our relationship with McConks. There are plenty of boards out there that people ride and have found there own serenity on it. but we have too and thanks McConks for it being your boards. Well done on creating a fantastic brand.

To find out more about Adam, Jen and Boardin Skool, check out their Facebook page.