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!

Recycling Bread Tags as Leash Tags

We go through a lot of bread at our house, and like the mini hoarder I am, I’ve been collecting those plastic bread tags used to close up the bag since I knew there’s got to be other uses for them.

Plastic Bread Tags

I’ve been using them as tags on electrical cords, but I thought these could work to tag my leashes too with the length of the leash, kind of like I did in another similar project.
I used a basic sharpie pen to mark the foot length on the bread tag:

That’s all you need, but of course, I had to jazz it up a bit:

I clipped my tag close to the ankle cuff, but it does slide up and down the leash, but doesn’t get in the way. I tested it on some kooky wipeouts (yeah, I did those on purpose…sure), and the tag held on fine. I think these work better on Comp weight leashes as opposed to Big Wave weight leashes, which the tag may not fit around. These may not be for you if you’re surfing Jaws or Cloudbreak regularly, but they’re Festivus for the rest of us, you know?

Tag on the leash

Tag! You’re it!

Easy DIY Leash Keepers

One of the most annoying experiences in surfing is paddling for a wave and looking back only to realize that you went out with a knot in your leash. Ok, that might be just me, but I suspect that’s happened to you once in a while, Mr. Pro.
I needed a quick way to keep my leash coiled in my bag so it wouldn’t come apart and get tangled. I tried using the Velcro ankle strap to wrap around the leash coil bundle, but the bundle just came apart using the bulky ankle strap, causing a bigger mess.
I picked up some of these Velcro cable ties at the hardware store I thought might work. They comes in bright colors, so I can keep my leashes labeled separately, and I can easily see my leash wrap:

Less than 5 bucks.

These cord wraps are fuzzy on one side and have micro catch hooks on the other, but are not scratchy like regular Velcro.



 
Fuzzy side

Catch side

I simply put the cord wrap on by wrapping the tie around the leash and threading the tie through itself through the slit provided:

The Velcro attached to itself
 to hold the tie on the cord

Next, I can make a neat coil of the leash, similar to coiling rope, and tightly wrap the long end around the top of the bundle.

Tie securing the bundle

When I go to surf, I just wrap the tie around itself and it freely moves up and down the leash cord, but since the fuzzy side is out, is doesn’t catch or hang up on anything.

Tie not in use while using the leash surfing

If you believe that this little Velcro piece is going to impede your mad surfing skills, let me be the first to tell you how precious you are, Princess Pea.
As a bonus to not getting tangled in my bag, I can now hang up my leash coil on my organizer using cord keepers that I can mount using adhesive. The cord just snaps in, and done!

Cord clip organizers
Clip placed under the edge of my wall organizer
Leash neatly hung up

The nice thing about these clips is that I can mount them directly to a smooth surfaced wall, under a shelf, etc. They don’t mount well to a stuccoed wall.
So, now that your leash is unknotted, you’ll lose an excuse to blame your flailing on- sorry ’bout that.



Surfin’ Daddy Goody Pail

Father’s Day is around the corner, and many of us around here know of more than one Dad who is good at being a father and may surf OK too.
Here’s a little idea to get him something he may appreciate for his other love.
First, I picked up a clear craft paint can at the craft store. Sometimes they sell these at the hardware store, but they’re about the same price, really, and I like the clear ones better for gifts. The top opens up just like an actual paint can, so you can use a paint can opener or just a quarter (this one is pretty lightweight):

Clear craft paint can (you can paint on the clear plastic!)

Inside, I’m going to put a nice surfboard leash- if you don’t know what size to get, estimate around a 7′ leash, that’s pretty average.

Take the cardboard sleeve off of the leash

Next, with the cardboard sleeve off the leash, I’m going to coil the leash around the inside of the can, leaving space in the middle:

Leash in the can….

Since I’ve got some space in the middle, I can put other things, like a set of Proteck safety fins (hey, gotta keep the old man safe, right?), some sunscreen (very important!), and, of course, some wax. If you have extra space, instead of buying that shredded paper crap, get some wrapped candies he likes to fill in the space- it looks nice and serves a purpose! Doesn’t someone make tequila flavored Jolly Ranchers?

Fill ‘er up!

Put the top back on, and I used some sticker paper to print out a neat clip art pic on my printer to make the gift look a bit more professional. You can paint the outside too, but using sticker paper is faster and can look better depending on your artistic level- hey, but if your name rhymes with Spew Trophy, give the painting thing a go.

Done!

This is a fun project for the kids and Moms to make together for the Dads. Throwing in a “Anytime Surf Pass to cash in When Needed” in there probably wouldn’t hurt either….

Surf Equipment Wall Organizer

I can’t take credit for this one- this was a surprise present by my Husband while I was horribly sick with the flu and couldn’t surf. 😦
Meet my new garage wall organizer!

Schweet.

He took a scrap piece of plywood, about 1″ thick and used PVC pipes to make pegs and even holders for our SUP paddles. The PVC pegs look to be around 3/4″ ID, and he drilled a hole into the wood, and epoxy’d them in place to ensure a solid hold. These can be used to hold my wetsuits in the winter, vests in the summer, towels, leashes, etc. They are long enough to hold quite a few things on hangers, as you can see.

Next, between the pegs, he cut some short pieces of larger ID PVC pipe, turned them vertically, and cut a notch large enough for the paddle shafts to lay into so they wouldn’t fall over. These were secured into the wood with two screws, one on top of the other:

SUP Paddle Holder

From the above picture, to the right of the paddle holder, you can see the blue concrete screw, one of a few he used to mount the rack in the garage to maintain a strong hold.
I hope I don’t get the flu again, but being married to another crafter sure has it’s rewards! 😉