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or why you shouldn’t be wearing  a leash on a log!

I’m quite opinionated about most things, surfing included.  I think style is important, in the sense that the way you surf a wave and the equipment you choose to ride is a reflection of your personality and that the aesthetics of the lines you draw on a wave are important.

I love longboarding, particularly the traditional style of logging, a pursuit where looking stylish and making the difficult look effortless is part of the point.

I am a firm believer in riding longboards without a leash, unless you’re a beginner, likely to lose your board and kill someone of course. I’d go so far as to say that if it’s big enough to need a leash you should be riding a different board.

Perhaps you agree, perhaps you think that’s controversial. In fact the most recent surfers journal has an opinion piece telling us it shouldn’t matter, but hear me out & see if i can convince you.

For a start they get in the way if you’re cross stepping (as you should be, no shuffling please!) It’s easy to waste a wave because you stepped on your leash or got it caught around your feet or  between your toes. In fact getting back from hanging heels is almost impossible without tripping if you have a leash on
They look ugly (check some photos) they ruin the clean line of someone perched on the nose.
They teach you to surf better. Having to remember to hold onto your board at all times teaches you to surf in control more, forces you to finish your waves properly by kicking out, not just letting your board take care of itself (which in itself can be dangerous) Kicking out adds to the aesthetic of your ride.
If you are riding sixties influenced equipment then you should ride it with a traditional influenced style, leashes weren’t invented until after the shortboard!
Finally there is a liberated feeling that comes when you aren’t connected to your board, a freeness of movement that adds to the experience , for me anyway, that little frisson of added danger heightens your awareness and the satisfaction that comes with a critical noseride or nicely executed drop knee cutback.
Of course there is one major disadvantage – losing your board. It happens to everyone from time to time. There’s nothing quite as frustrating (or scary depending on how long the swim is) as swimming within a fingertips reach of your floating board, only for the next wave to hit it and carry it off. If you’re unlucky, your next view as you surface will be watching your log merrily surfing it’s own way to the sand, to sit, fin up in the shallows, taunting you to come collect it.
To quote Joel Tudor: ” So what if you swim, you get more in shape that way!”

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  • Blackwood

    So true, this story. I also surf longboards but when it get’s crowded i’am happy with my leash.
    I know surfing without feels and looks better… maybe give it another try!
    Thanks for your thoughts Chris!

  • Mister Griffster

    I’d completely agree Chris – the freedom and awareness that comes from being un-leashed teaches you so much more about logging with style, and there is a satisfaction in having the board under control… and yes i ‘ve had that feeling of a board slipping out from my finger-tips after losing it, but i always smile because i get to body-surf the next wave, if you’re lucky you can catch a wave right up to your board and pop up and carry on riding – mind you mine always seems to be fin up so it’s an interesting experience 😉

    This is great on a perfect 3ft day, but there’s a few reasons i wear a leash at other times- firstly i surf a crowded break and on a pushing tide it comes right into a rocky cove… losing an expensive, resin-ated log can be a painful experience if you have to pull it off the rocks… but more than that, when there’s 300 – 400 surfers in the water in an area less than 250 meteres in the summer months it can prove quite painful for others!

    the most worrying thing is some people, especially learners and kids have not been told how to react when in the water and doubly so when the see a loose board – you can get interesting reactions – a lot of guys i know position themselves quite safely, will laugh or smile if they see you swimming, and some will even catch the board for you…. thats the true camaraderie of surfing right there!

    however the inexperienced just freeze if they see a log bouncing toward them in the whitewater, not realising they can just simply sink under the water, results in some worrying reactions…

    but by far the worst reactions seem to be from shortboarders or those who believe they are ‘performance’ and who take themselves too seriously – they just don’t get it even tho they kick their boards in all directions when attempting the 100th unsuccessful arial of the day….

    I’d defend style all the way but there are some instances when worth wearing a leash on a log

  • McMatty

    Style, look better?
    Wow fantastic reasons I mean you want everyone to focus on how great you look after all…

    Having been hit by a twats board that went leashless recently in Bali I find this excuse weak.
    Cut me open I wasn’t happy as that was my session done & out for a couple of days because someone felt like being free of a leash.

  • Howard

    Hmmm, maybe don’t go to Bali then. It’s full of twats.

  • trialofthebrickyard

    i just wear it around my calf. doesn’t get in my way cross stepping, and if i happen to wipe out my board is right there, but hey this was written eight years ago. people change, maybe the writer doesn’t care what people think of how he looks surfing anymore. much more concerned with how i feel surfing than how i look.