A pretty cool thing about being in a SUP company is you meet loads of great folks from all over the world. And after spending a week together, a bond and trust forms that leads to friendships and connections to a diverse collection of SUP communities. Another element of this is we respond to loads of questions people have as they both get into and progress as a SUP athlete.
A recent question we fielded via email from a repeat SUP camp guest was, for shorter SUPs, what size of leash are we recommending for SUP surfing. Unfortunately the sudden interest stemmed from a leash-related injury where the paddler's leash became wrapped around his upper calf and tightened as he was drug through an oncoming set. The result was a strained muscle and a couple weeks of rest.
While we are in the water and waves probably no less than 300 days a year, we're not here to make any definitive scientific claims and we like to think our approach includes a constant state of learning. So for the moment, here's our understanding on leash length for SUP surfing a smaller SUP.
As you start surfing a smaller SUP, it's natural that the leash should also get smaller. Part of this is you develop different techniques to more quickly recover your board in the surf zone, punch through oncoming sets, eliminate as much drag as possible (small SUPs glide less) and prevent tangling up. At this point as a SUP athlete you should be comfortable and cognizant in the ocean with a solid sense of awareness. I think a leash about a foot shorter than your board is fine. Our entire team SUP surfs sub-8' boards and our leash sizes are all between 6' and 7' long. And stay as far away from a coiled leash as you can, unless you're SUP racing or cruising.