How to Attach a Leash to a Surfboard -

How to Attach a Leash to a Surfboard: A Beginner’s Guide

Surfing is one of the most popular activities to partake in when visiting the beach. It is thought to have been around since ancient times and is an integral part of Hawaiian culture. Its popularity has grown widely, spreading to other parts of the world, like Australia and South Africa, and is a famed cultural influence in the Californian way of life.

To date, it has even become a sporting event, with many championships and competitions held all over the world. It is highly athletic and considered to be a tough sport, used by many as a means to maintain fitness. Through many years of development, the sport, as much as the surfboard, has gone through countless improvements, and it is not uncommon to see modern-day surfers using board leashes.

What is the purpose of a surfboard leash, and why is it such an essential part of the surfboard? Here, we will be discussing the basic principles of wearing a surfboard leash. If you are a new enthusiast and not sure about why a leash is important, then read on to find out.

Why Use a Leash?

A surfboard leash is, most commonly, a urethane cord that is tied to a surfboard and strapped around the ankles of a surfer using Velcro strips. Many consider the leash as an encumbrance, and for unskilled rookies, it can become an obstacle they often struggle with. However, it is vital to wear a leash, both for safety and practical reasons, and getting used to wearing one is an important part of learning how to surf.

The primary reason for a surfboard leash is to keep the board close by whenever you fall off or crash into a wave. This prevents the board from being swept away by the wave-current or floating off to where you cannot find it. Keeping the board from floating away not only provides you with the ability to get back on quicker, but it also prevents it from becoming a hazardous object that could pose a danger for other swimmers and surfers. It also helps lifeguards to quickly find you if you possibly wipe out as you may sustain a serious injury.

Lifeguards would then have to simply search for the colorful appearance of your surfboard, rather than search to find your body, which could likely be somewhere underwater. Leashes range in varying designs, all depending on the type of board and waves you plan on surfing. As a beginner, you would likely need the aid of an instructor to help you choose the correct size and type.

How To Attach a Leash To a Surfboard

Here is the process.

Preparing The Cord

The surfboard leash is attached to the surfboard by tying it to the leash rope, which in turn is tied to the provided plug at the rear end of the surfboard. Most new designs will include this plug in the creation of the surfboard, and no matter what board you have, it should have a leash plug.

The first step would be to tie the leash rope to the plug. It should be noted that the rope has to be only long enough to allow the leash’s velcro to pass through. Any longer than the recommended length and it will damage the board during a wipeout, and it will be a hindrance to the surfer. If you have a sewn loop leash, a common variant to the easier Velcro type, you will have to tie the rope first to the leash before tying to the surfboard plug.

You can use plenty of knots to attach the rope to the surfboard, but the one described here will be most effective. To create the knot, follow these steps:

  1. Fold the cord or rope in half, holding the ends together with the fingers of one hand.
  2. Create a loop in the center of the cord or rope so that it looks like a ribbon bow.
  3. Pass the untied ends through the loop.
  4. Pulling towards the loose ends of the rope tightens the knot. Leave a bit of the untied ends open, so it does not loosen when hitting the water. You should now have a noose with a knot on the other end of the rope. If you have a sewn loop leash, it should have been threaded through the loop before the knot is tied.

Tying It Down To The Surfboard

With the knot in place, you can move on to tying it down to the surfboard. Follow these steps and it will be easier.

  1. Straighten the cord or rope and pinch the end opposite the knot together.
  2. Thread it through the surfboard’s plug by allowing the pinched end to pass under the provided pin.
  3. Now you would need to attach the leash; pass the Velcro belt through both ends of loops that you have made. This will ensure the tightest possible tie-down. Once threaded, secure the Velcro as tight as possible.
  4. If you have a sewn loop leash, you will be required to pass the cord’s front loop through the rear loop.
  5. Now pass the leg attachment through the remaining loop and pull the leash all the way through and tighten.

Proper Methods of Wearing a Surfboard Leash

A few safety precautions are always worth checking before going out onto the waters. When strapping the leash to your ankle, always ensure it is tightly strapped down. It should always be strapped to your back leg or the leg that is closest to the rear end of the surfboard. Ensure there are no knots in the cord, as this could cause it to snap under high pressure.

It should also be strapped down as far as possible down your ankle. If it is too high or strapped too loosely, it could spin and cause you to wipe out. The leash cord should always be facing outward and towards the back. This is all for the best convenience and safety while surfing.


That is all the basics of wearing and fixing a leash to your surfboard. Always remember to wear sunscreen and practice safe surfing. Surfers might be the coolest people on the beach, but remember, you are not the only ones out there. As much as others respect surfers, they also respect the other beach-goers. Don’t surf on crowded waters and always remember to have fun. After all, it's why you are out in the sun.

About the Author Thomas

I suppose you could say I came to surfing later than most. I didn't grow up by the water, but after years working the 9-5 grind I felt its draw and decided it was time to lead a slower life. These days I try and spend time in the water every day and consider the ocean as my living room: a place to relax, have fun, and just enjoy life.

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