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Choosing the right Surfboard Leash

Everything you need to know about choosing the right Surfboard Leash

When it comes to choosing the right surfboard leash for your board, it can be pretty overwhelming. Especially when you don't know what exactly you need to look for. There are so many different sizes, shapes, lengths and styles of leg ropes out there. How on earth do you know which one is right for you and your board?!
This blog aims to break down that mystery for you and get you out on the water safe, comfortable and shredding (Sorry no promises on the shredding).
Nat Young

GETTING STARTED

LEASH PARTS

Here's a diagram of the basic parts that make up your leash. Its good to familiarise yourself with the terms so you don't sound like a kook when you're talking to your local surf shop guru.
Surfboard Leash Tutorial

THE CUFF

The Cuff on a leash is the part that attaches to your leg (or arm if you're a booger). The main thing to look out for here is how comfortable it is and how secure. Surf leashes these days generally have a double wrap-around Velcro cuff which gives you comfort & adds that extra strength / security to your connection. If you can, try a few different ones on to see what you like! Don't settle for a scratchy cheap leash, You'll regret it!
Creatures Leash Cuff

THE SWIVEL

If it doesn't have a swivel, don't go near it! Unless ofcourse you'd like to be battling with leash tangles and tripping up all over the place. Swivels are what allow the leash to spin and twist to avoid tangles and tripping you up while you ride. Without them, they can be a damn pain in the ass. Most leashes come with either a single or double swivel which can sit between the Cuff and cord and also between the Cord and rail saver.
Swivels are a must in our opinion, they not only provide an ease to your surf but eliminate the danger too. Get a double swivel leash if you can.
Leash Stainless Steel Swivels

THE LEASH CORD

The bulk of your leash is made up by the cord. These come in a bunch of lengths and widths and your suitability will depend on the board you're riding and the wave conditions your in. Typically speaking, the thicker the leash cord, the sturdier and stronger it is making it harder to break. However, the thicker the cord, the more drag it will create in the water and slow you down. 
Surfboard Leash Cord

RAIL SAVER & LEASH STRING

The rail saver does 2 things;
1. Attaches your leash to your surfboard (via the leash string). Using a sturdy fabric construction with velcro.
2. Protects your board rail from the leash cord when strain is put on your leash.
Without a railsaver, there's a high chance your leash or string, can crack or even rip right through your surfboard rail. When you take a beating and the leash is pulled tight, it can put too much pressure on the rail and without the padding of the rail saver, rip right through it.
The wider and longer the rail saver, the more it will protection it gives to your board, However, longer and wider rail savers also create more drag.

Leash Railsaver

Note: If your rail saver has a logo on it, make sure the logo is up facing (not rubbing the board rail)
ALSO, make sure your leash string is not too long! Your Rail Saver, needs to sit over your rail to do it's job.

FAQ'S WHEN CHOOSING A LEASH

1. HOW LONG DO I NEED MY LEASH?

General rule: Go as long as your board length.
Leash lengths range from 5ft to 12ft and are not a one fits all solution. The right leash for your board depends on the length of your board and your surfing level. A general rule when choosing your surfboard leash is that it should be the same length (or slightly longer if your board is in-between sizes) as the board its being used on. For example, if your surfboard is 6'0, use a 6'0 leash. If it's 6'6 Surfboard, grab a 7'0 Leash.
Other tips:
Beginners, you may like to ride with a little bit bigger leash just so you're a little further away from your board when taking beatings is more of an occurrence than actually surfing. BUT don't go more than 1ft bigger than your board as your fellow surfers might hate you when they get your board in their teeth. Also, don't go too short, you might get a nice head bruise when you fall off and the board rebounds straight back at you. (If you're an advanced Surfer, it can be nice to go shorter to reduce drag on those smaller days)
Surfing bigger waves? Grab a bigger leash. You want that board as far away from you as possible (without having to haul in an anchor)
- Leashes will stretch so keep an eye on that and replace them as needed. 
Surfboard Leash Lengths

    2. HOW THICK DO I NEED MY LEASH?

    Basically, the thicker your leash, the stronger it is but the more drag you will incur.
    The smaller the wave you are surfing, the thinner you can go with your leash. If you're a small wave or competition surfer, a thin leash (5-6mm) will provide less drag and ease of catching waves. Riding this same leash in large waves however, will most likely result in you treading water out the back while your board hangs in the safety of the shore - be prepared for a snapped leash. Needless to say, go thicker when your surfing bigger or more heavy waves so you're not left hung out to drown without your board.
    Regular and Large Wave leashes range from 7-9mm in Thickness. Although they do create more drag than a lite or competition leash at 5-6mm, they'll be a lot less likely to snap when it comes to frequent bails or taking poundings in bigger, powerful waves. We recommend these thicker leashes for beginners and bigger wave riders.
    If you're surfing NZ's east coast such as Te Arai or Mount Manuganui, because of their more mellow waves, you can use a 5-7mm leash, if your surfing somewhere Piha, grab a 7mm + leash.

    3. ANKLE LEASH OR CALF/KNEE LEASH?

    ANKLE:
    The ankle leash is your most common cuff attachment. It's the most comfortable and convenient when it comes to pulling back your board in the midst of a tumbling. It does have a higher chance of tangling that a knee leash.
    Mick Fanning Ankle Leash Snapper Rocks
    CALF / KNEE:
    Calf or knee leash is generally best for the long boarder or Stand Up Paddler. Because of the higher attachment point, surfers are able to walk their board with minimal chance of tripping over their leash. There are less tangles and less drag in the water. They are however less comfortable and not as easy to pull back your board on. 
    Surfboard Knee Leash

    4. COILED OR STRAIGHT LEASH?

    Coiled leashes are for Paddle boarders and Boadyboarders. The compact coil provides less drag in the water enabling faster paddling while also reducing the chance of coiling around your feet and tripping over (If your a SUPer). The coil leash is the ultimate flatwater paddle leash while your Straight leash on the other hand is a win for Stand Up Paddle Surfing. 

    SUP Straight vs Coiled Leash