The surfboard leash has always been a problematic tool since it was first introduced back in 1971. Not so affectionately coined the "kook cord," the invention of the legrope (or leash) also coincided with the tuberide's rise to prominence in the surfer's reportoire. Surfing's first leashes were not ideal since they were made from surgical tubing and would snap back with dangerous consequences. It wasn't until urethane was used in surfboard leash construction that the modern leash was born.
While few can argue that the leash plays a vital role in keeping surfers and beachgoers safe from the slippery hands and sketchy drops of novice waveriders, purists persist that the leash has sucked out some of the soul and athleticism from surfing.
Even in heavy surf, surfers no longer need to be expert watermen (or women) since the threat of losing your board, getting caught in the rip, and dragging your tired, beaten body to dry sand has been greatly diminished. Therefore, the question remains as to when to stay connected to your board and when to free yourself and go leashless.
There is no doubt that if you are a beginner, you should always wear a leash. It is a matter of safety. A runaway surfboard can become a blade-like projectile when mistakenly shot into action by a fumbling newbie.
With the number of surfers increasing by the day, unleashed, unexperienced surfers have the potential to cause great harm. Also, since new surfers are often young or out-of-shape, a legrope is essential to ensure that no one is left treading water or left bleeding.
However, as a surfer's skill increases, he or she may think twice before tying on that "kook cord." In fact, in small to medium surf , the leash can become a crutch, maybe even a hinderance, to improving skill, technique, and style. When a surfer is connected to his/her board, there is a certain amount of security and a lack of consequence to falling.
There is the understanding that falling is an option. Who cares if you blow an air, get knocked down in a closeout, or nose dive on takeoff since you won't lose your board.Try surfing without a leash. It becomes imperative to make your maneuvers. You may surf with too much caution at first, but with experience comes confidence.