Leashes, how to choose best for Stand Up Paddle Board Surfing and
Which Leash is best for Paddle-board?
What to consider when choosing a leash for your Stand Up Paddle Board.
Note: Practice removing your leash from your body without looking. Leashes can be caught against submerged objects, trapping the wearer. If you have practiced fast removal then this should not be an issue for you.
What' is the best leash length for Stand Up Paddle Boarding?
Paddle-boards are much heavier (as much as 5 or 6 times) than a traditional short board surfboard. Therefore a regular surf leash is not strong enough for surf use with SUP. If you have a small light construction board, then you can probably get away with using a long regular surf leash. Otherwise look for a leash that is rated for SUP. An SUP rated leash will have a much thicker Urethane cord, the longer the leash, the less likely it is to break.
When a board is taken by a wave without the rider, it travels away at great speed then suddenly stops as it pulls up short against the rider attached to the other end. All that force must be carried by the leash, the shorter the leash, the more force per inch it must absorb. Leashes are designed to stretch a little to soften this "impact"(absorbing energy) and reduce the effect of the board "bouncing" right back at you. A shorter leash must therefore absorb more force and be thicker and stronger as a result.
Surf Leash for Waves.
Stand Up Paddle Boards are pretty big, incase you did not notice :) If you are using it on a beach where people are swimming or playing near the shore, you should use a leash to avoid the board washing in and hitting a fellow un-suspecting nature lover.
As a general rule: your leash should be as long as your board. This is to provide a safe distance between you and your board when you wipe out. When your leash is shorter there is more chance of getting hit with the board. Personally I like to use a leash that is short so that I can quickly get back to my feet and paddling. I like it to be long enough to get the nose of the board for dangling the digits however, (nose riding).
Most experienced Surfers like to use a shorter leash, as they like to keep the board close to them. They are prepared to accept the added risk, they usually have the odd scar and missing fur on the head to prove it too. Always try to stay aware of where your board and paddle are as you wipe out. Keep an arm close to your head, and if the board does come towards you it is better to deflect it at an angle rather than trying to stop it dead with a straight arm. As you deflect it, roll with the impact, be like the reed in the storm grasshopper. Remember a shorter leash will absorb less of the rebound effect, so the board is more likely to come back to you at speed fin first. A shorter leash will also need to be stronger.
It pays to let the board pull you along with little resistance initially, this reduces the violence of the "tug" and reduces the re-bound effect.
Read more about which SUP is best for waves
Surf Leash for Flat Water.
In fresh water we do not float so well. Also your board will travel faster on the current than you will, (this applies in the ocean also). So wearing a leash can save you a lot of swimming or maybe even save your life. That is why we recommend wearing a life jacket or buoyancy aid. If you are using the board in calm waters an ordinary surf leash will be fine.
Read more about which SUP is best for flat water
Do you need Swivel's for a Stand Up Paddle Board Leash?
Swivels is a device that allows the end of the leash to spin freely of the leash cord. This prevents the leash from twisting into big loops that can trap your feet and legs. The more the board or you rotate, the more the swivels will be useful. Most modern leashes have a swivel at each end. Every added feature is a potential weakness, however swivels originated from fishing tackle and are generally trouble free.
I have noticed that Leashes are annoying no matter how many features they have. I often use a thick no-nonsense leash without coils, stand off, or swivels and have found that if I wear it just below the knee, it works as well as anything else I have tried.
What is a Stand-Off on a Surf Leash?
A stand of is a molded part that holds the leash 90 degrees out from the cuff, helping to prevent the leash from catching around your feet. It does make the leash feel a little "heavier" but is worth it. Stand-offs, unlike Swivels are definitely a potential weak point, I have seen cheap leashes break at this point within just a few uses. Especially when used with SUP's which put more load on a leash than regular surf boards do.
Coiled Verses Uncoiled Surf Leash
Leashes are usually made from UV resistant Urethane. if a leash is dragging in the water it will slow you down. This is hard to avoid. A "Stand-Off" can help minimise this a little. Some surfers use Bi-cep or Upper leg attachment "Cuffs" to help keep more of the leash out of the water. The Coiled leash, like an old telephone cord, also helps to minimise drag. These expand when you fall to provide clearance, they tend to be less easy to get tangled up in also. Coiled leashes tend to come with Swivels.
Where to wear your leash for SUP riding
This will come down to personal taste and how comfortable a particular leash feels and grips when you wear it in different ways. The ankle is the most common. When using your SUP in surf, you will notice that the board pulls quite strongly on your body when it gets taken away from you by a wave. If it is tugged on your ankle it can easily pull you off your feet or drag you along feet first.
I prefer to wear the leash just under my knee on the leg that is most often in the back foot riding stance. This helps to keep it clear of my feet and also keeps the "re-bound" force close to the centre of my body where it is much easier to control. It is much easier to pull someone over from their foot than from their thigh, (the Quadriceps, and Hamstring groups of upper leg muscles are the most powerful in the body).
I have also noticed that the soft pad of the leash attachment gives me something soft to kneel on as I get back onto the board. (it sits beneath the knee but is still usable as a shin pad). It also grips well to the board.
Key Pockets on Surf Leashes
What can I say, it's a good idea, soon we are heading into the territory of desperately looking for ways to differentiate products for marketing, rather than provide really useful features, but the key pocket is good.
Learn more about the construction of your SUP