Learning The Ropes: When To Wear a Surfboard Leash

First published on My Life On Board on March 20, 2014.

“Leashes are for dogs,” is the echoing sentiment of so-called hipster surfers who refuse to wear leg ropes in the name of style. Sure enough, such a standpoint attracts both disaster and debate. There are those who insist that your life, and inadvertently, someone else’s life depends on your leash; and then there are experienced surfers who reassure the surfing public that as long as your board-handling skills are top-notch, no leash is no problem.

Arip “Mencos” Nurhidayat from Indonesia. Surfing without leash is like a walk in the park for this professional surfer.

Arip “Mencos” Nurhidayat from Indonesia. Surfing without leash is like a walk in the park for this professional surfer.

Safe is cool

But the trouble doesn’t lie there—it seems that this supposed “new breed” of style-savvy surfers who insist on going leash-less don’t necessarily examine how well they can handle their boards and don’t check whether the conditions are right. Put simply, to them, a leash looks stupid. And that moment you put a premium on looks before proper surf education is the root of all this vanity.

Perhaps the first step to closing this case is to accept that wearing a leash and going rope-free are not mutually exclusive. If you have years of surf experience tucked under your belt, and if you carry that mastery where your board is in sync with your body, then skip the leash to your heart’s content. If you are an intermediate surfer looking to level up your reflexes, and if the waves are small, the break is friendly, and if the lineup is almost empty, then feel free to go without a leash.

But if you are a beginner, and by definition, someone who can’t read waves well enough to know where to position yourself, and someone who has to ditch his board when the inevitable bomb arrives, then please wear a leash. Sporting a kook-induced injury will never be trendy.

The leash-less legacy

Didn’t the ancient Hawaiians all surf without a leash? Yes, and these legends didn’t harvest timeless surf knowledge overnight. Much is known and assumed about the perfected art form of sliding down the face of a wave with grace and control, but little is said about all the wipeouts, the near-drowning incidents, the assortment of injuries, and the long and strenuous paddle after a loose board that is required of this surf mastery.

Surfing without a leash refines your instinct to move with and like water. And the liberty that comes with surfing leash-free teaches you humility. That if you get too confident, you could still get knocked down. Let the water lead, and never get ahead of the wave. Style is patiently revealed only after one conquers the need to be noticed. These are lessons more important than just looks.

Alon Surf Products – Local leash-loving

Not all surf locations are blessed with surf shops and there are local surfers who have no choice but to surf without a leash. On top of that, most foreign leash brands are expensive. Some resort to makeshift ropes that compromise both comfort and safety.

Alon Surf Products recently released a line of surfboard leashes with the local surfer in mind. Each of their leashes are fitted with a high strength urethane cord, a comfy neoprene cuff, a key pocket, and tough double stainless steel swivels, without the budget-breaking price. Colors available are dark gray and white or clear and blue. 

The 8ft. and 9ft. leashes are available online at www.alonsurfproducts.com. Or you can swing by Charlie Does in Baler, Aurora to pick up the leash of your choice. 

Soon to be released are 10ft. leashes perfect for longer and heavier logs, and 6-7ft. leashes for shortboards and mini mals. And in keeping up with high performance requirements, comp leashes made of lighter materials are also scheduled for production.