My first leash experience
by Corky Carroll
One of the questions I get asked a lot is about surf leashes. There are many longboarders who do not use them due to the fact that the cord always wants to get tangled around your legs and feet when you walk the nose. But there are also many people who think that everybody should use them for the safety of everybody else. It’s a good discussion and I have talked about it here before, and probably will again. But today I wanted to share with you a story of what happened to me one day surfing the Huntington Beach Pier and how the surf leash came into play.
This was back in the 1990’s and there had just been a couple of lawsuits against surf leash companies because they had got tangled around one thing or another and a guy drowned because of one of those instances. The claim was that they were too hard to get off underwater, especially when getting churned by a wave at the same time. So, they came out with a safety release pin surf leash. It had a little pin with a ring on it that you could pull and it would release the leash from your leg. A friend of mine who owned one of the big leash companies came to me when he had a prototype and asked me to give it a try and see how I thought it worked.
So I used it for about a week and never had a situation come up to try it out. But then one day I paddled out at the Pier in Huntington Beach when a big south swell was running. Big lefts were coming up the beach on the south side and raging through the pier full bore. I had ridden a couple waves successfully and was on one of the bigger ones and entered the pier with the plan to make it out the other side without having to go around any pilings. To do this you have to enter just inside the first piling and have a ton of speed. IF you play it just right you can get out the other side in the same gap between the lines of pilings. But it didn’t go that way. As I was tucked into the wave and fully committed to blasting out the other side, in the same line, I realized that I was not going to make it and it was too late to straighten out to go around the piling that was right in front of me, looming large and full of razor sharp barnacles. So, doing the wise thing, I dove off into the face of the wave. Thankfully I got washed out the other side without hitting anything. And my board did too. The bad part was that my board had gone around that last piling and now it was hung up by the surf leash.
A huge wave was coming and I was getting drug away from the pier by the current, but my board was struck hanging from the piling, the leash stuck on the top of the barnacles as the water sucked out for the oncoming wave. In short, I was in a jam. But then I remembered I had on the pin release and I reached down and pulled it. Voila, it came free and my board dropped from the piling. As it did the nose hit the water first and sprung the board directly at me, the fin making it turn sideways just as it got to me. This made it perfect for me to climb on and paddle as fast as I could to just make it over the upcoming crusher wave that was about to cream me.
As I got over the wave and let out a happy “whew,” there was a guy sitting there on his board that had seen this whole thing happen. He looked at me and commented admirably, “Wow, you REALLY know what you are doing!!!”
All I could do was laugh and say, “Yeah, that stuff happens to me all the time.”
The dude paddled away and I think he thought that I was being serious.