To leash or not to leash

New to surfski I thought I only needed a surfski, a pfd (personal flotation device), a paddle and a sense of adventure. Right?

As one progress one tends to pickup a few extra goodies along the way that makes the sport more enjoyable and safe.  For example - a rash vest ads heaps of comfort on a long paddle.

Could this be a lifesaver? 

To say I like reading water sport forums is an understatement.  Lately on the forum there has been a lot of chatter regarding the use of leashes, either paddle or ankle/calf leashes.  Since I am a beginner I usually paddled in nothing more than a light breeze and sure felt that a leash was excessive.

So eventually the good old South Easter hit and I saw the need for a leash of some sort.  So what to get?  A paddle leash? An ankle/calf leash?  Or both?

I normally land right next to my ski when I fall, so first got myself a paddle leash.  Well, after witnessing last week how a paddler's ski got blown over the water like tumble weed, I might change my opinion and ad a ankle leash.

According to the current discussion on forum, there are a few views on paddle leash, ankle/calf leash, both or none at all.  It basically boils down to the weather conditions, surf conditions and the preference & experience of the paddler.

For now, with this South Easter, I would rather get myself an ankle leash too.
 (eerder bang Jan as dooie Jan)


RobM said...

In my opinion...

Even in a relatively light breeze, your ski can be blown away faster than you can swim! So...

I use a light paddle leash permanently on my single ski. I occasionally take it off if, for example, I'm on the back of a double and the leash doesn't connect easily.

The paddle leash at least gives you some security and is likely to work if you come off in light winds.

In light winds too, if you do lose your grip, the paddle will act as a bit of a sea anchor and may slow the boat down enough for you to catch it.

But, when the wind gets up, whitecaps start appearing and you go offshore (as in a Millers Run), it becomes crucial not to lose your ski, and you should use some sort of leash from the boat to your body. Personally I use a belt leash (available from Mockes) because I had a nasty experience with an ankle leash in surf - I ended up with a wrenched knee, bloody sore.

But, in strong winds, you should have either ankle or belt leash. In big conditions I actually use both - I've found it very useful (when helping someone else for example) to be able to let go of the paddle, giving me two hands to use for some other task.

Have fun, be safe!

Smilicus said...

Thanks for the info Rob. I have also started to use a light paddle leash for now.

The belt leash sounds like a great idea, since I have not been to keen on the ankle leash. Will check out them out at the Paddling Centre.

Great paddling everyone