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Surf Tips

Surf Tip: Preventing Leash Tangles

It’s happened to the best of us.  You’re in perfect position with a beautiful a-frame peak headed straight for you.  You paddle in, leap to your feet, and then realize in horror that your leash is wrapped around your legs like a boa constrictor, eliminating any chance for a clean ride.  It’s happened to every surfer, and although it’s impossible to prevent 100%, here are some tips on stopping the leash from getting wrapped around your ankles and caught between your toes.

  • Don’t wrap your leash around your board.  A lot of people love to do this, and it seems convenient, but wrapping your leash around the tail of your board just above your fins only puts kinks in the leash.  The material the leash is made of has a memory, and this and causes it to want to coil around your leg.  Leave the leash free when you store your board.  It’s not convenient anymore when you’re blowing waves.
  • Make sure your leash is long enough.  Generally it should be as long as your board, rounding up.  If you’ve got a 7’6″ board, get an 8′ leash.  If you’ve got a 6′ shortboard, get a 6′ leash.
  • If you’ve got a leash that does nothing but coil around your leg while you’re in the water, one solution is to pull the leash taut.  Attach one end to a doorknob or other sturdy structure and pull it out, stretching the leash a bit.  Hang the leash uncoiled for a few days to allow it to straighten it out.
  • If your leash is really annoying you and doesn’t seem to straighten out, buy a new one.
  • Wear your leash on your trailing foot (duh!) and make sure that the leash/cuff connection extends out to your side – to the right for regular and to your left for goofy.  Don’t have the leash extend from the cuff towards your back or heel, instead position it so that when you’re standing on your board the leash/cuff connection is pointed towards the tail of your board.
  • Use a comp leash if you’re in average sized, 6 foot and under surf.  You don’t need such a thick leash.  Comp leashes are strong enough and will give you less drag.  They also seem to coil and get tangled a lot less than regular thickness leashes.  And if you’re that worried about your leash breaking you shouldn’t be out there in the first place.
  • Give one of those XM Tangle Free leashes a try.  I can’t endorse this as I haven’t tried it out yet, but it seems like a good idea in theory.
  • Don’t wear a leash.  Ok, maybe I shouldn’t have included this tip, but honestly if you’re in small surf and can hold on to your board, give it a try.  This is NOT suitable for people surfing in areas where there are kids playing in the shorebreak nearby, or if you’re riding in a very crowded lineup.  Sorry, even the best surfers lose their boards.  You don’t want the liability of having your fin go through someone’s eye.  Enough about consequences, though–surfing without a leash is incredibly fun and liberating.  And in small waves you don’t have a leash giving you extra drag.

So hopefully these tips will keep your leash tangle-free and put an end to those horrible wave ruining cases of tanglefoot.  If you’ve got any other ideas or home remedies post a comment below and fill us in!

Hayley Gordon

Hayley Gordon has been surfing for over 20 years. Riding both shortboards and longboards, she's traveled the world to surf but mainly sticks to her two home locations of San Diego and Long Island.

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