After surfing for 30 years, I have certainly made my share of mistakes. I didn’t always listen to the more experienced surfers when they made suggestions as to how to improve my surfing or even about the over all general safety aspects of surfing.
I have always recommended that you buy a leash that is at least a foot longer than your surfboard. If you intend on riding large waves buy an even longer leash. It makes sense that if your leash is longer than your surfboard that when you wipe out, your surfboard will have less likely of a chance of hitting you. I have heard some new surfers state that they are not going to wipe out, I do not know any surfers that haven’t wiped out seriously. We all end up on the bottom of the ocean at one time or another. Yes, I have seen Kelly Slater eat it also. It all goes with the territory.
But back to the leashes now, I like to use a surfboard leash that has a rail saver. These days most leashes I have seen, do have a rail saver that prevents the leash from cutting into your surfboard and believe me it will cut your surfboard if you choose not to use one. I like a leash that has several swivels on my surfboard, this will lengthen the life of the leash by not letting it get so wound up on itself.
The thicker the leash the more drag it will put on your surfboard. The more surface area that hits the water the more drag, pretty self explanatory. If you have a big, heavy surfboard use a thicker one though.
The cuff of the leash is the part that goes around your leg. Most of the cuffs I have seen use velcro to attach them to your leg. I prefer a cuff with a key pocket, I have never lost my key, even in Hawaiian surf. I have snapped boards and broken leashes and my cuff has even come undone from old velcro, but the key was still inside when I swam to shore. So as far as I am concerned the key pockets are a safe and reliable way to keep track of your key while surfing.
Surfboard leash care is important, always check your equipment before you go into the water. Have a second leash in your car or easily available. Rinse all your equipment off after you get done surfing. All of your equipment! Get the salt water off of it. If you want your surfboard leashes to last a long time remove them from your surfboard and hang them up by one end. Wrapping them around the surfboard and storing them that way stretches them and many have a memory, so instead of laying in the water nice and straight they can coil up. There is nothing like hopping on a wave and having part or your leash tangled on your leg, this will only have to happen once before you will realize that you need to hang your leash.
Always remember to make safety a priority and you will be able to keep surfing as I have for 30 years. Taking proper care of your equipment and choosing the right leash will not only help you keep safe but enhance your surfing experience too.