Time for a New Surfboard Leash

Last week, we had a few days of fun longboard swell, so I took out my heavier 9’0″ Dewey Weber Performer longboard. When I attached my usual longboard surf leash, I had noticed that the Velcro was beginning to fray badly and the attachment points had become far too supple, almost to the point of tearing. It was time for a new leash, and this one was finished….

Typically for my longboards- which have ranged between 8’6″ and 9’2″- I’ve used a standard 9′ long surf leash. Your leash needs to be about as long as the surfboard you plan to ride. I have a 9′ leash for my longboards, one for funshapes/shortboards that’s 7′ long, and a 5′ leash for my little 4’6″ Beater board.

Surfboard leashes have become an essential safety item to me, since the lineup here in Florida can become crowded quickly with surfers AND swimmers alike. I don’t want to take the chance of a wipeout potentially injuring someone else. I also consider it important in case I become too tired to swim if I lose my board, which was one of the main drivers behind the invention created in the late 1960’s in California (History of the Surfboard Leash).

Pat O’Neill (of O’Neill Surf Company fame, and the son of founder Jack O’Neill) gets the credit for making the “kook cord” popular. Ironically, he lost his eye when his board snapped back in his face due to the initial poor design of the surf leash. Today, better designs make this much less common, but there are some things I still do to prepare my leash before its’ first use.

Once either end of the leash attach points become frayed or loose, spend a little coin and get a new leash. It’s not worth taking the chance over spending $20-30 bucks at least once a year if you surf frequently. More if yer a gnarly ripper, brah. Lawsuits can get pricey. Same goes if the cord comes loose from either end- no gluegunnin’ it here- this is SAFETY equipment. Y’all feelin’ me?

Now, all brand new leashes have the same problem- they’re kinkier than Christian Grey.

Kinky.

Every one of my new leashes gets a turn on a sturdy palm tree to stretch it out a bit. I like having both my eyes, so getting it stretched out a bit keeps it from “snapping” back as much during initial surf sessions. Of course, future wipeouts will help stretch the leash as well. Yikes.

I’m finally getting some strength exercise in…..

Much better than before.

This particular leash I purchased is a “Regular” leash, meaning the cord thickness isn’t too thin, nor too thick for most recreational surf breaks. It’s what is typically found at most surf shops.

Comp” or “Competition” weight leashes have a thinner cord. The concept is that the thinner cord reduces drag when paddling, surfing, and doing tricks. Personally, I really like them because they are light, and more than enough cord thickness for our usual 2-3′ waves here in Cocoa Beach. Comp weight leashes are hard to find in 8’+ lengths at many stores, but I’ve seen them on occasion.

Big Wave” leashes have supa thicky-thick cord. Unless you’re planning on surfing huge Pe’ahi or Cloudbreak with your 10′ elephant gun, OR your name rhymes with “Blaird Blamilton,” you can probably pass on this type of leash. If you ever need it, trust me- you’ll already be in the know then.

Can’t wait to try out my spiffy new leash, but it’s gnar chop city for a few days, so I’ll have to find somewhere else to go…..

Pick A Winner

So I went to another competition this past weekend, and I took my new 7’0″ funshape. I remembered everything I needed- my wax, fins, leashes, leash loops….D’OH! I forgot to string my leash loop through my plug on my board before I left, and I discovered this about 10 minutes before going to surf when I went to put my leash on. Nice.
Then I got reminded how maddening it is to string and pick up a leash loop through a plug, especially when you’re under a time limit. A friend of mine was kind enough to lend me her screwdriver (mine was in my car), and I proceeded to stab the loop into the plug, hoping I wouldn’t miss and put a sweet hole into my new board. As a bonus, this particular leash loop happened to be extra thick, posing even more of a challenge. After lots of cursing, the loop somehow got through, but my nerves were nice and frayed.
A few days after the contest, I was in my local surf shop, and I saw a Freak brand leash. They have this new plastic flexible tool that comes with it that is brilliant. It’s a mini comb, scraper, and LOOP PICKER! Downside- the leash is $25 bucks, and you probably already have a million leashes hanging around somewhere. Like me.
Here’s what I tried instead:
Get a drinking straw (preferably one you picked up off the beach), a pair of scissors, a leash loop, and your board. I used the same super thick leash loop I had at the contest in the pictures and it worked!
Cut a piece about 5″ long off the straw:

Next, flatten the straw down it’s length, then fold it in half down it’s length again. It should look like this on the end:

Keep the fold together on the end and cut a slant backward on the end to make a point:

Use this point to push the middle of the loop through the plug:

The straw will flatten a bit and allow you to scoop the loop underneath the bar:

Then, take the point and pick up the loop keeping the fold tight at the end with your fingers:

Do a lark’s head knot around the bar to secure:

Done!
This tool comes free with my soda at the restaurant, or on the beach after the weekend tourists roll through. Plus, it takes approximately 5 seconds to make with household scissors. And, it doesn’t have the potential to put a gaping hole in my board if I’m in a crazy mood.
Back to training for that next competition- I’ll give ya a little taste….

 

An Easy Way to Hang Up Your Leashes

Lately, I’ve had an issue with my extra leashes getting all tangled on the shelf, or sliding off the pegs I have in the garage. Here’s a simple hack to remedy that problem.
Here’s my peg rack, which is mounted on the wall¬†just a little over 5 feet high:

Now, you might use a hook system, a tie rack, whatever. Anyway, I measured the diameter of my peg at about 7/8″. I estimated the diameter of my leash cord at about 1/8″ average.
Given this, I set out to the hardware store to find a rubber o-ring with a 1″ Inside Diameter (check in the plumbing section). Your o-ring may be smaller since my pegs are honkin’ big.

Once you have your o-ring, roll it (or stretch it) over the end of the leash that attaches to the board.

Once it’s on, the o-ring should slide freely up a down the cord, but not fall off the leash. Slide the ring to the middle of the cord and hook it over the peg or hook.

The friction of the rubber and the tight fit will keep the leash cord from slipping around and falling off, and you can take it right off the peg easily. As a bonus, you never need to remove the o-ring off the leash, since you’ll never even notice it while surfing.
Here’s my organized peg rack now with leashes that don’t slide off:

Problem solved!
Now get back to flailing!