Surf skis and leg leashes

Paddle leash ?
It’s been a while since I’ve had a ski, but in windy conditions I used a paddle leash attached to the boat. If I got knocked off all I had to do was hold on to the paddle. If I got pounded I could let go of the paddle. Fortunately I never had to test it. Believe it or not it didn’t get in the way of paddling.

paddle leashes
I know a few people who use a paddle leash instead but most races I’ve done require a body or leg leash. If you let go of your paddle, it may stop your boat from surfing away if the waves are small. The elite guys I’ve talked to all use leg leashes and consider paddle leashes useless and/or dangerous.

Oh! Yeah: Back in 1990
Molokai race, had my 223cm 1st generation Descente Flyte wing paddle leashed to the surfski when a Big wave hit, tossing me out of the ski, in the middle of the Channel. The wave carried the ski 100 ft. downwind and yanking that paddle right out of my hand. Trust me, that wing paddle leashed to the ski didn’t perform well as a “sea anchor.” Fortunately, my escort boat fetched the ski and brought it back to me with the paddle still leashed to the ski.

Sure Wished My Racer Wore One
For this Summer’s Blackburn Challenge. Figured it would be flat again, like previous races. Never know when weather conditions might change and the winds pick up? Wearing a leash from the start, would of prepared paddlers for the unexpected big stuff ahead, and not have to break stride, slowing down, playing it safe to avoid capsize.

When I use a leash
I attach the leash between the paddle and boat and make sure to control the paddle. I don’t like to be tethered directly to anything as a matter of principle.

One advantage of this setup is that the paddle acts like a sea anchor and reduces the rate of drift of the boat. Another is that there is less stress on the leash, perhaps avoiding the failure described in the video.

The leashes I use are coiled like phone cords and are quite flexible. It appears to me that this also reduces overall stress on the leash.

If I feel the need to have the leash, I generally don’t detach it since it is my contact with the boat after a capsize.

Not sure how/if this works as well with a surfski, but it is a configuration that works for me.