A leash is an essential piece of gear for all stand up paddlers. It will prevent your board from drifting away and out of reach if you fall and easily save your life by keeping you connected to a large flotation device. Wearing a leash will also prevent your board from drifting into boat traffic when paddling in a marina and can be used as a tow line to pull a fellow paddler if there is ever a need to do so.
Coil Leashes vs. Surf Leashes
SUP leashes are divided into two categories: Coil leashes and Surf leashes. Coil leashes are easily recognizable – they are coiled – and are best suited for recreational paddlers and SUP racing. The coil helps keep the leash on your board and prevents it from dragging in the water. They also keep your board very close if you fall. Recreational paddling and SUP racing rely on efficiently gliding over the water at relatively slow speeds and you don’t want to degrade this by dragging a leash through the water. A coil leash will expand and contract as you move around the board and generally stays out of your way while paddling.
Surf leashes do not have a coil and resemble a long strand of pasta. They do not sit neatly on your board and drag through the water behind you. As surfing involves traveling at higher speeds than recreational paddling or racing, the fact your leash is dragging through the water is not an issue. The lack of a coil also allows your board to move a bit further away in a fall (typically 7-9 feet) which provides a greater likelihood you will not be hit by your own board. In contrast, however, your board may hit someone else. Therefore, it is always important to paddle safely and be mindful of other surfers. If needed, grab your leash near where it attaches to your board to maintain control of your gear in the line up.
Paddlers typically attach a SUP leash to either their ankle or calf, depending on personal preference. For most recreational paddlers, attaching a leash to your ankle is the best way to go. Advanced paddlers and SUP racers may choose to attach it to their calf as the increased positive angle of the leash from your board to your body raises the leash off the board which may be a desired attribute during competition or technical maneuvers. SUP leash
See you on the water!