Thoughts on leashes for paddlesurfing…
Like most people, I started out using the longest leash possible on my paddleboard when in the waves, thinking along the same lines as with surfing: have a leash about the same length as your board.
However, I really can’t see that it makes much sense to have long leashes on paddleboards, for the following reasons:
Most seriously, it increases your ‘kill radius’ quite significantly – if you’ve got a 10′ leash on a 10′ board, then that means you can maim any other water users within a 25′ radius of your head. Which, while an extremely effective technique for clearing the speedbumps out of the way, is really not advisable for long term health or indeed the best interests of the sport in general.
As I understood it, the general surfer thinking was that you wanted a leash longer than the board so that you could keep decent separation between yourself and your fiberglass when going through the rinse. However, as any paddlesurfer knows, the much greater buoyancy and width of a paddleboard tends to mean that it behaves very differently inside the white water – it stays high, and at the front of the foam, towing you behind it. I’ve never been tumbled and remained in close quarters with my board – have you?
Then there’s the sheer irritation of having yards of leash trailing behind you (occasionally tempting other water users to grab it when you’re least expecting…).
The only good argument for having a long leash is that it allows you to get toes to the nose. So if you’re on a 10′ noserider and you can hang ten, then you’re going to need a 10′ leash!
Other than that scenario though, long leashes don’t seem to have much going for them. So what’s the alternative? I am certainly not a fan of the coiled leashes – there was a horror story recently on supsurfmag.com regarding one that had parted under strain, and the metal end recoiled with such force that it had embedded itself an inch into the deck of the board. How far it might have penetrated one’s skull, one can only imagine! But quite apart from that grim thought, they simply don’t work well – they coil back on themselves and get into an awful tangle.
So my feeling is that actually, all that is needed is a decent strong leash, somewhere in the 7-8′ range. Ideally, it’d be a calf leash, but these don’t seem to be made in sizes less than 9′. (Am I wrong on this, can anyone point me towards a decent short calf leash?)
Note: These thoughts are about leashes for paddlesurfing. For flat water cruising I don’t wear a leash, and for downwinders I will definitely wear a short leash.