Pics: Oli Lane-Peirce.
You mightn’t have heard of Cotswolds based McConks before if you’re not into stand up paddle boarding. If you do paddle then you may have seen the brand’s inflatable range. What you mightn’t also know is McConks actually do a limited line of hard shell stand up paddle boards, one model of which is applicable to windy heads.
Light wind windsurfing continues to be the final frontier of the sport with strong breeze kit pretty doing the job well and all sailors understanding this. With windfoiling, a resurgence of interest in longboard windsurfing and (still) windSUP garnering attention multi-discipline boards such as the McConks Freedom 10’6 reviewed here are what the masses want to know more about (so we’re told).
With another staycation, COVID led summer on the cards in the UK any ‘toy’ that serves additional purposes is always going to be well received. Having a mast track integrated into a paddle mobile is one thing. Actually having a SUP configured for windsurfing, with the ability to paddle, is even more welcome.
The McConks Freedom 10’6 x 32” is an eye catching windSUP that grabs attentions on the beach. The wood veneer showing through, combined with blue rails and hull make it aesthetically pleasing with many a comment made around these traits. The Freedom comes with a 4+1 fin set up which makes it highly tweakable. Riders can swap out the supplied fins for whatever they choose. As an added bonus McConks even sell a windsurf specific freeride fin if you wanted to upgrade.
So what do you actually need from a windSUP? Firstly, it needs to be an efficient light air weapon with plenty of float. The McConks Freedom 10’6 certainly has this. The 160L worth of volume ensures that even when there’s not much breeze about you’ll be perfectly happily perched atop with a rig in hand. Secondly, the board needs to be an upwind machine. During early windSUP years boards would often sneak off downwind requiring the dreaded walk back. Fortunately, the McConks Freedom 10’6 has nifty tucked rails which help with grip when tracking close hauled. Yes, the rider needs to still concentrate on getting where they’re going, but it’s much easier to do so because of the Freedom’s hull contours.
Finally, a windSUP should ideally be a relatively apt performer in waves offering riders the ability to wave sail when it’s not gale force. Whilst we didn’t get to test the McConks Freedom windSUP in sail wave mode we did throw it at some swell in SUP guise. And turn, carve and gouge it did. So we know full well it’ll work as a light breeze wave sailing tool should this be a requirement.
Watersports brands are so much closer interlinked these days – McConks SUP being a case in point with their crossover range of windSUP, wing SUP and windsurf products. We all appreciate the need for equipment versatility as no two days of weather are ever the same in the UK. The McConks Freedom 10’6 is an adept performer in SUP surf mode for anyone who fancies tackling swell alone. With a rig attached it’s a fun light air cruiser that efficiently stays on course and will take riders wherever they want to go. For the whirler and twirler, light wind freestyle brigade it accommodates no issue and will provide a dependable platform for any windsurfer looking to do battle with some windy swell. All in the Freedom’s a lovely board proving there’s no issue with broadening your search criteria when in the market for new, fun watersports toys.