× Tips and techniques for getting the most out of surfskiing.

Breathing life back into a stretched calf leash

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7 years 5 months ago #22717 by peteski
After a few wipeouts in the surf zone, my Mocke Calf Leash become stretched to the point where I considered replacing the red spiral cord with a bungee cord.

Before destroying it, I thought I would try to "respring the spiral". This turned out to be very successful, so here's what I did:

1. Found a 19mm wooden dowel in the garage
2. Wrapped the red spiral tightly around the dowel
3. Poured about a litre of boiling water over the wrapped up cord
4. Left it for a few hours to reset (not sure if this was necessary, pouring cold water over probably would have had the same effect)
5. Unwrapped the cord to find it was as good as the day it was bought :)

Going forward, I'll try to heed Dawid Mocke's wise words and unclip the leash when going through the surf zone, as I'm not sure how many times this can be repeated without affecting the integrity of the spiral cord.

Fennix Elite S - Carbon Hybrid

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7 years 5 months ago #22719 by Watto
Brave man! Have been caught a couple of times unleashed and no fun in the washing machine with one big boat and two sharp edges.

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7 years 5 months ago #22725 by Ranga
First rule about ski paddling 101, NEVER use leg leash in surf zone! VERY DANGEROUS.

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7 years 5 months ago #22730 by LaPerouseBay
I often have to go through a surf zone full of kids at the end of a run. I set a up a sliding rear leash that clips behind me on my PFD. It allows me to jump out and go to the rear of the boat and remain connected. I've never had to use it (to keep from killing a kid) but it's reassuring to have it there.

I've used it surfing, it works great. It would have been ugly with a calf leash. I also have a quick release on mine if things go bad and I need to get away from the boat.

Another advantage to a rear sliding leash is that it makes it very easy to remount without worrying about that damn leg leash getting tangled up in the cockpit. That used to really bug me. It sucked being a beginner in big downwind conditions! Most of the elite guys here on Maui have quick releases on their calf leashes. They surf in some big waves.

downwind dilettante

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7 years 5 months ago #22737 by owenw
LPB - photo/diagram please as this sounds interesting

Life truly lived is full of risk; to fence out risk is to fence out life itself

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7 years 5 months ago #22775 by epic5253
I had the same problem when I took my V10S for her maiden voyage - did not unclip.... I have replaced my stretched-to-Cairo coil with a Reef 8mm big wave bodyboard coil.... and have stretched it twice in big waves and it's still 100% in shape...

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7 years 5 months ago #22785 by LaPerouseBay

owenw wrote: LPB - photo/diagram please as this sounds interesting


Sorry, I don't have time to post pics or make a diagram of the setup. It's been outstanding downwind conditions here lately and I'm really busy with other stuff too.

It may be for the better that I don't post my exact setup, because my system is good for me, but may not be the best possible. When it comes to a leash setup, you want it to be stout. Mine is, but there may be something better. I got the idea from a sea kayaker that paddles in unbelievably scary stuff. Way offshore in dense fog.

Basically, I have a line of spectra from the rear of the boat to the cargo net, with tension on it to keep it taught. The mounts for this should be stout. It also has a clip so I can undo it and tow someone.

My leash is a Naish kite surfer's leash with a very good quick release mechanism. It has very nice hardware, about a foot long, with some bungee action and a big foam handle that will release under tension. It's great having all that gear behind me, out of the cockpit.

Best of luck if you set one up. I perfected mine over time, as we all do with this type of stuff. It's well worth the effort IMO. Remounting in big seas is a pain in my ass. I practice it when seas are smaller so it's automatic. I suggest the same for newer paddlers. I've seen people struggle to get in and it's ugly. A calf leash only makes it more difficult.

downwind dilettante

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7 years 5 months ago #22786 by Fath2o
Have to agree with Ranga on this one!

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7 years 5 months ago - 7 years 5 months ago #22809 by wrybread
Mind if I ask why you recommend against using a leash in the surf zone?

I paddle pretty much exclusively in the surf zone, as does pretty much everyone I paddle with, and we've all found it really dangerous *not* to use a leash. One big reason is that when your boat gets sent to the shore it often gets damaged by the shorepound. I broke 4 rudders in two months before I started using leashes. That's no fun at $80 each...

But even more important, and where the danger comes in, is the necessity of controlling your boat. I come from a board surfing background, and its really really important in the surf community to never ditch your board, especially if there are other people around. I usually surfski in areas where there aren't surfers around, but sometimes they're way inside of me, and sending my boat their way on a set wave is not only a rookie move, but is also dangerous to them, and makes me a really bad citizen of the surfzone.

I'd never use a paddle leash in waves since it could easily wrap around my neck, but a leash from my calf to the pedals isn't nearly as wild. I've had lots of wipeouts, and other than a couple of broken leashes, no hint of danger.

Anyway, curious on the logic here. Or maybe people were referring to paddle leashes? Or maybe really hard breaking waves, that a surfski couldn't possibly surf anyway? In that case I could definitely see the danger of a surfski damaging your leg. But in soft breaking waves appropriate for a surfski, I've never had my boat pull even as hard as a longboard in hard breaking surf.

And great tip on resetting the leash by the way.
Last edit: 7 years 5 months ago by wrybread.

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7 years 5 months ago - 7 years 5 months ago #22810 by Sifor
I don't use a calf/PFD leash in the surf zone (disconnect it before coming in), but rather a paddle leash so if I fall out I can still hang on to the paddle and maintain some level of control over the ski. Like others have said, it's just far too dangerous and arguably irresponsible to let your ski go uncontrolled in the surf. Not only is the likelihood of damage to your ski increased, but you could take out people downstream.

The paddle leash IMO is the best of both worlds in the surf as it allows you to maintain some control over your ski, but if you get into trouble you can just let the paddle go.
Last edit: 7 years 5 months ago by Sifor.

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7 years 5 months ago - 7 years 5 months ago #22811 by TaffyMick

Sifor wrote: The paddle leash IMO is the best of both worlds in the surf as it allows you to maintain some control over your ski, but if you get into trouble you can just let the paddle go.


Used to think the same thing until I nearly got my arms wrenched out of my sockets once. Mind you it was in about 1.5M of whitewater on a shallow sandbank. Now I just try to come in away from any other paddlers, surfers or swimmers and paddle for dear life :lol:

Stellar SEI, Fenn Bluefin S, Sladecraft Comet Long Rec & Vajda K1
Last edit: 7 years 5 months ago by TaffyMick.

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7 years 5 months ago #22815 by peteski
I think the key here is to assess every situation (size of waves, distance to shore, other people in the water, wind, skill level etc) and make your own decision whether to unclip or not.

It's nice to know that if you get it wrong and stretch your leash, it can be fixed at no cost :-)

Fennix Elite S - Carbon Hybrid

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7 years 5 months ago #22822 by jagter
I've had one of those life flashing before your eyes moments where things seem to go in slow motion, watching my ski pull away from me after I had a swim on a downwind and I couldn't grab the foot strap in time.

The leash stretched to the maximum and started creaking, but it held. If it broke I would be dead. I've broken leashes before, and that one wasn't far from breaking in that moment.

So personally I wouldn't paddle with a compromised leash. Not sure how any heat treatments etc would affect the strength, but rather just buy a new one.

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7 years 5 months ago - 7 years 5 months ago #22823 by Kocho

Ranga wrote: First rule about ski paddling 101, NEVER use leg leash in surf zone! VERY DANGEROUS.


Would like to hear specifics as well. I'm by no means an expert on surf, but there is surf and there is SURF. For small stuff (less than 1-2m wave where it breaks) a leash really seems like a good idea to me. Especially if used with a cord so it is effectively clipped at one end of the ski. I have not skied through such breaks, but have SUP-ed with a 35lb inflatable 12' long SUP there. With a leash I had absolutely no issues controlling it after a wipeout (which I had to do just about on every wave). I have a surf-specific non-coiled leash that has some stretch inherent to it, with break-off points and a velcro-based quick release at the ankle. I use the same in my ski for downwind paddling.

Now, for SURF (big stuff), I can see how a leash would be mostly useless and dangerous. But realistically, how many of us paddle through such bigger surf that is bigger than small shore break?
Last edit: 7 years 5 months ago by Kocho.

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7 years 5 months ago #22824 by peteski
I always use a paddle leash too when conditions are rough, so if the calf leash is compromised, the paddle leash is a good second line of defense. I'll report back here if I ever break the revived calf leash :-)

Fennix Elite S - Carbon Hybrid

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7 years 5 months ago #22825 by Watto
Agree with TaffyMick exactly same experience, I was out of boat unleashed on a bank and as a breaking wave came in grabbed the leash to hold the boat - holy shit nearly tore my palm open and stretched-to-Cairo wrist! A 6 metre plus boat side on in shallowish turbulent water is a big sail to very powerful forces. In deeper water you tend to be corky and move with the boat however in shallower stuff if I was to duck under incoming 1.5metre break, I'm fine and pretty static underwater low down however boat is very dynamic above and will move away at significant speed with significant force.

My own context rarely has kids or others in surf so that not an issue - totally agree about that responsibility, however if no kids and going out or coming in, being leashed just too dangerous in breaking waves much over .5 metre. A one metre break remember has a two metre face, so sit on the floor and look at top of the door - that's some force very ready to separate you from your boat. I'd rather get my timing better or just swim back and cover ski. BTW if 1 km from shore on a reef break, hmm think I'd risk a stretched leash or leg so context does count.

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7 years 5 months ago #22918 by David Grainger
LaPerouseBay wrote:
...
Basically, I have a line of spectra from the rear of the boat to the cargo net[/quote]
...

Could you describe how you attach the line to the rear of the boat?

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7 years 5 months ago #22935 by LaPerouseBay
^ It's a sticky pad with a loop of spectra. The epic rep in Hood River Oregon has some friends at RSI that make the pads a bit larger than their standard size - to fit on skis. I have one on the front too. It may come in handy if the ski ever needs a tow.

Here are some pics of mine and a link to their website.

www.northshoreinc.com/store/pc/viewPrd.a...ct=338&idcategory=93

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downwind dilettante

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7 years 4 months ago #22993 by LaPerouseBay
Well, that NSI sticky pad with the spectra failed today. The stitching holding the spectra to the pad ripped out.

Waves were maybe 1 meter or so, top to bottom. Maybe bigger, who knows. I missed one and ended up in the impact zone. In the blink of an eye, was out of the boat. A more experienced surfer would have looked back and seen the impending doom and done something, but I basically slid out of the bucket - the boat went forward in the white water. I felt a tug and the pop. Boat was easy to swim to, not far away. Tied the string again and surfed another 2 hours. So, that's the weak link in my chain, back to the drawing board.

I'll look back next time. But I wont be grabbing any footstraps with my hand. I've seen pictures of ripped off fingertips that were the result of grabbing surf leashes. Standups set up handles to grab in whitewater. The key is NOT to have anything the fingers can wrap around. They say a finger can get trapped in there and... no more paddling for a while.

I'm very new to ski surfing. I've had people tell me to bear hug the boat, grab the footstraps etc. No thanks, I'm too old for that. If I screw up, I'm out of there. I'll sacrifice a boat rather than risk a rudder in my ear hole.

Someone suggested a backup mount. I've seen that on standups. 2 leash string mounts. One string breaks, the other is a backup. I'll try that with 2 40mm stick it pads in the other thread. I doubt I'll break those. If I do, I'll post it here.

Fun day!

downwind dilettante

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7 years 4 months ago #22995 by David Grainger
Replied by David Grainger on topic NSI Pad Fail
LPB - thanks so much for posting this.
Maybe they will get wind of this and improve it. Reading back in this thread, you said the stretchable part of your system is only a foot long? That doesn't sound like it would give enough cushion to the setup in the scenario you were in, with the boat running away on a wave and the paddler as the sea anchor. Do you think a longer stretchy part would have helped, or is it a design flaw in the NSI pad? Other questions: how old is the pad? How many hours in the sun? any visible UV deterioration? How did the 3M VHB tape hold up - did the pad separate from the deck?

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