You've purchased your first surfboard and are eager to get into the surf, but do you really need to attach a leash to your board? Well, if you don't mind doing a whole lot of swimming to retrieve it, I would say the answer to that question is a resounding "Yes".
History of the surfboard leash
In the early days of surfing, surfboard leashes didn't exist. In fact when they were first introduced they weren't very popular and were given the disparaging nickname of "kook cords". People shunned using them and thought they were only for "wimps". However when the surfing community began to realise they helped the surfer to catch more waves it became a standard piece of equipment.
Initially the first surfboard leashes were made from surgical tubing. However this was not a good material for the job and caused Jack O'Neill (O'Neill Wetsuits) to lose his eye as the tubing snapped back violently while he experimented with a survival tube leash. As technology progressed the leashes were made from urethane - which holds it's stretch - and that is the standard today.
Types of surfboard leashes
There are several different types of surfboard leash.
You need to use the right kind of leash depending on your board and the conditions in which it will be used. Both the diameter and the length of the cord play an important part. You can get the leashes in lengths from 6ft to 12ft and in thicknesses of 5mm, 7mm and 10mm.
Which leash you need is dictated by the length of your board - so if your board is 8 ft long you will need the 8 ft leash. But if your board is 8'6" long then you will probably go for the 9 ft leash. Now the thinner the diameter of the leash the weaker it is going to be - but there is also less drag. As the diameter increases, so does the strength but also the drag. Therefore if you are going to be surfing in small waves then the thinner leash is fine, but if you are tackling the big boys you are going to need a thicker leash.
Surfboard leashes are categorized as the following:
Comp leashes (competition)
- thinnest diameter
- medium diameter, for the slightly larger boards and medium waves
Big Wave leashes
- thickest diameter, for - you guessed it - big wave surfing.
Choosing a leash
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you make a surfboard leash decision:
1. How long is my surfboard?
If it's an 8ft board I need an 8ft leash.
If it's an 8ft 6inch board I might want to go with a 9ft leash
2. How big are the waves I will be using with the surfboard?
A good rule of thumb is the bigger the waves the thicker the diameter leash you will want. Comp Leashes for small waves, Regular Leashes for medium sized waves, Big Wave Leashes for Big Waves.
If you keep these few things in mind you will have no trouble choosing the right leash to use with your surfboard - but if you have any questions you should ask the people whom you bought your surfboard from.
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