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16 October 2014
Wales Surfing

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Learning to surf

Surfing Accessories

A guide to buying board leashes and board bags by wounded gull.

Leashes There are different views about using a leash if you're learning. Some instructors think you're better off not using one to begin with as you're close to the beach, usually in a couple feet of water and will be falling off regularly.

The leash can cause the board to fly back at you quickly and hit you so it can be quite dangerous if you're not used to it.

There is also the possibility that you'll start to rely on your leash too much and not correct the bad parts of your surfing. If every mistake means a swim to the beach, you'll quickly learn to become a better surfer and swimmer.

Others think that having a leash means you can retrieve your board quicker and therefore catch more waves - learning faster.

It probably depends on how keen you are, where you are going to learn to surf, and how long you want to spend in the water.

Wear a leash

Once you have mastered the basics or plan to surf at more crowded beaches, a legrope is definitely necessary to avoid long swims and injuring other surfers with your board.

There are many brands of legrope on the market, and they vary in cost from £15 to £30. A padded ankle strap for comfort and a swivel to help prevent tangles is useful, especially if you fall regularly. Da Kine, FCS, Bulldog, Creatures of Leisure and Full Bore are all popular brands of leash.

If you're learning on a long board remember to buy the correct length of leash as you'll find a shortboard leash will cause the board to fly back at you with some speed. The leashes are generally alot longer, around 7-8ft and will attach to the knee. Shortboard leashes are normally around 6ft in length and attach to the ankle.

Never ever abandon your board as a wave approaches. This is known as 'bailing' and can cause serious injury to anyone paddling out behind you, who will be hit by your board. Your leash may also snap, leaving you with a swim so always try to hang onto your board and duck dive the wave as best you can. Don't rely on it, they all snap eventually. I've heard it said that you should buy a new leash with every new board.

Board Bags If the board you purchase is in good condition, then a board cover of some sort is a worthwhile investment. It will help protect the board's condition and therefore its re-sale value.

Prices vary from £30 to £70+ depending on the degree of protection and features and length of bag required. Cheaper covers i.e. 'board socks' prevent most scratches and damage from sunlight. If you're going for the board sock, buy one with nose padding.

More expensive board bags will have padded noses, carrying straps and be up to 20mm thick. These will protect boards from just about anything particularly if travelling by plane or bus. You can also buy plastic coffins offfering total protection. some bags will also come with wheels on for ease of transportation should you wish to travel with a quiver of boards.

Double board bags or board coffins which will take two boards and fit most of your clothes and equipment in, which can be very handy if you travel regularly. Board bags are also great to sleep in should the need arise.

Many surfers over the years have slept in a board bag underneath the stars waiting for first light at the beach. It's not so good in colder countries though.

A coffin/ travel bag

Buy a board bag that suits your needs and budget. You can often pick up a good quality board bag with a second hand board purchase, as people tend to sell both as a package.

Remember to check the dimensions of your board before purchasing a new bag. You can always order a custom one to suit your own board at little extra cost. If you're buying a new board, see if the shop will give you some discount on a bag while you're there.

If you're planning to travel, opt for a bag with 'fragile - top load only' written on it in as many different languages as you can find. It might just save your board one day.

Try and get one with a decent shoulder strap too as you might find you have to walk a while to reach your destination surf spot and carrying boards can be uncomfortable. Metal zips rust due to salt water so you might want to consider getting a bag with plastic zips. They're not as strong but won't get jammed up with salt.

Always check your board at the airport after transit. If it's damaged, report it to the relevant airline desk immediately and get a claim number from them and some sort of written confirmation if possible, quoting the date and damage sustained. This will help you claim back money from the airline for a repair or new board.

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