Created in the late 1950s by the Frenchman Georges Hennebutte, the leash is an essential accessory for all surfers. It connects the board to the surfer's ankle. In case of a fall, the leash allows you not to lose your board and not to have to swim to the edge of the beach. Or worse, to see it explode against rocks or someone else. For optimal use and maximum safety, it is important to choose the right leash. Discover the different selection criteria!
1) Choose your leash according to your board
This is undoubtedly the first criterion for selecting a leash. Depending on the size of the board used, the leash size should be more or less long. A leash being rather elastic, if it is too short, it could lead to a collision between the board and the surfer. So, here are the leash sizes to choose according to your board:
- For a board between 5′ and 6′ (shortboard or hybrid type) : prefer a 6′ leash
- For a board between 6′ and 7′ ( fish or softboard type): prefer a 7′ leash
- For a board between 7′ and 8′ ( egg type) : prefer an 8′ leash
- For a board between 8′ and 9′ ( longboards and mini-malibu type) : prefer a 9′ leash
2) Choose your leash according to the waves and the spot
Depending on the conditions, it is sometimes necessary to adapt the length of your leash for your own safety and that of other surfers around. In case of big conditions, it is better to use a longer leash. This will avoid, once again, the risk of catching your board in the head. For example, if you are surfing a 5'9 shortboard in big conditions (waves of 2 meters and more), change your usual leash (normally 6′ leash) for a 7 feet leash.
Depending on the type of spot, it may be necessary to choose a different leash. If you are surfing on a reef spot (on a coral or rocky bottom), you will have to choose a shorter leash in order to avoid that it gets stuck in the coral or rocky bottom and puts you in danger.
3) Choose your leash according to your level
The size of the leash should also be adapted to your level. If you are a beginner, we advise you to take a longer leash which will decrease the risk of impact with the board. Conversely, an experienced surfer will choose a shorter leash which will allow him to get more speed on the waves because the leash will offer less resistance and will drag less behind him.
Some tips to maintain your leash
A leash must be maintained regularly to avoid breaking in the middle of a session. The first advice we can give you is to always have a spare one in your trunk in case of breakage. This will allow you to continue surfing even if your leash breaks after the first fall. Secondly, never let your leash get rolled up or knotted. This will weaken it and increase the risk of breakage. Also, do not wrap your leash around the tail of the board when storing it. If the leash gets in the way, detach it from the board instead. This practice not only damages the leash, but also the board's rails.
Can I surf without a leash?
It is indeed possible to surf without a leash. But you must respect some conditions. Firstly, you must be sure that you can manage without your board in case of a fall. Try to catch your board during the wipe-out at all costs to avoid having to go and find it on the shore. Secondly, never surf without a leash if there are people around. This could cause injury to someone and make you angry at other surfers in the water. In any case, if you are a beginner and have not yet mastered all aspects of surfing, do not do it. Surfing without a leash is fun, but in many cases it should be avoided.