Straight, Coiled, QR.. What’s What?? SUP Leashes and Safety

The debate rages on and on, so here we go. @StandUpPaddleUK see so much incorrect info being chaffed around the Facebook paddle groups . You know the groups we are talking about. Firstly, leashes aren’t a choice, it’s an obligation as a paddler. Let’s explain What’s What…

StandUpPaddleUK believe it is time for firmer guidance and Manufacturer intervention

There are so many cross over scenarios with leashes and use.. generally a Coiled leash is the most common ‘everyday use’ leash for those we see on inland areas using rivers, canals and lake riders. But there is a valid and just argument for a Quick Release Belt when on any type of water, and we agree – moving bodies and murky waters are dangerous places, you never know when you’ll need a quick release..

The Types:

The Straight Ankle Leash – mainly used for Surf, also useable on flat water. Great for SUP Surf as these won’t allow the board to ping back (like a Coiled). Straight leashes trail in the water and leave the deck pad clear for movement. This is the only leash for SUP Surf.

I often opted for a Straight Leash in my early days, with less information, as it was provided as standard with my board

The Coiled Ankle Leash – Most commonly used, but it’s for flat bodies of water and when racing. The coil sits on deck, clear of the water, which means you have much less chance of snagging it on unseen dangers under water / branches / seaweed / strapping / ropes / moorings. You’ll most often find these provided with SUP packages as they are versatile but that doesn’t mean it is the right leash for every trip. The Coiled Ankle Leash has become the standard leash being sold with boards, probably due to the position they take on the board when in use (not dragged in the water therefore slightly safer but still a risk).

A coiled Leash provided with many Brands of Board

The ‘QR’ Quick Release Belt w/ Coiled Leash – mainly used on white water (referred to as WW), but you will often see the more skilled or informed paddlers using a QR belt and leash on all types of water (Not Surf). The leash can be attached to a QR belt or sometimes your buoyancy aid if it accepts that attachment. When in white water the QR is pivotal, in a moment when you need to get detached from your board very quickly, it is the only option. Dale has done a few IGTV videos on @StandUpPaddleUK. We do suggest investing in a QR and leash for all water types, and always using this option in WW.

Dale with his QR belt and Coiled Leash on a gentle Canal paddle

A Quick Release belt is exactly that, a belt with a quick release buckle and pull cord / release strap (usually velcro with an adjustable resistance). Some brands are selling more of a setup which would be the belt, a split ring and key, a leash (which can be switch between the belt and ankle), and Restube. This link will connect you to a site selling the setups as above, as a belt only and a full setup. Take a look to see the difference.

FYI – a Restube is a safety backup on the water. Due to their small size the restube pocket can be worn around your waist or at your harness. If necessary, pull the trigger and restube inflates within seconds.

We are urging all paddlers to invest in their equipment, buy a QR belt and leash. The beauty of the QR belt is it is very quickly removed and stripped from the body when caught in danger.

When should I use a Leash? Trick question. There isn’t a scenario when a leash isn’t used. There are so many things to consider when getting out on the water, your leash isn’t a choice.

If SUP surfing a minimum is the ankle leash, to stop the board being flung in any direction, hitting others or yourself. *We are not suggesting QR with SUP Surf*.

Many of our followers paddle rivers and canals – murky, dirty and near impossible to see beneath the surface. Unseen dangers lurk! If you are on a fast moving segment of water, for example the River Wye (which also has white water) then really the best option is a QR belt with a Coiled leash. You need to remember, fast moving water places a constant flow against an object – If your leash is caught round, say a branch under water, you’ve past the point of being able to get back to the branch due to the flow. You’d need to Quick Release at this point.

We honestly feel the Quick Release Setup is the safest all round option regardless of water type.

With the exception of SUP Surf
Dale wearing a QR on the Canal in Leicester
  • @StandUpPaddleUK‘s Advice
  • Straight Ankle – only option for SUP surfing. Also Deep Lakes / Sea (if open water and not returning to areas like ports / moorings) Never in White Water.
  • Coiled Ankle – Flat Water, the Sea and when Racing. Never in White Water.
  • QR belt with Coiled Leash – Any type of water, always in WW, but not for SUP Surf. We would also note use on fast moving rivers due to the water speed, even slower canals due to the likelihood of below water dangers. The ability to remove it easily and fast is live saving.

We have a duty of care as paddlers, for ourselves and the ones we are paddling with. Brands have a responsibility of course. They do provide us with nice new leashes when buying a new board, but it is YOUR responsibility as the paddler to assess your needs for EVERY paddle. Assuming your current leash is a ‘one type fits all situations’ is incorrect.

Always assess your paddle route and water quality / clearness before heading out

We see hundreds, yes hundreds of tagged images on @StandUpPaddleUK of people incorrectly wearing leashes, using the incorrect leash for the job and more importantly, not wearing one at all – it is unacceptable, however I do not doubt that is due to lack of information.

We would like to see paddleboard manufacturers to change how they sell boards and what they sell with them. We are suggesting an option on websites when purchasing a board, a simple drop down box that shows leash options; Straight Ankle Leash, Coiled Ankle Leash, or QR Belt with either option + the Ankle strap. This is the best way for manufacturers to promote good practice, choice for the varied paddler and ensure their duty of care.

We are also urging manufacturers to stop providing just an ankle leash – @StandUpPaddleUK are suggesting all brands move to a Quick Release belt with a Coiled Leash, on top of the standard ankle leash. As I am writing this, one British manufacturer has switched up from just selling an ankle leash to providing a QR belt also. I wasn’t going to name names but FatStick, you are setting the bar in the industry.

We are hoping this helps push the industry in the direction it needs to go. Correct information for all levels of paddler, not just a generic image showing standard use of leash types. This hasn’t been not written for likes or kudos. It’s been written because every single person in this industry has a duty of care and obligation to protect paddleboarders.

Brands – WE WANT TO WORK WITH YOU ON THIS. We don’t have allegiances – the only allegiance is to safe SUP. We want you providing the industry with good equipment, the correct safety equipment and informative advice – that’s where we can come in.

We have ideas, and we think we can help. Get in touch.. @StandUpPaddleUK / Darren and Dale

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook

3 Replies to “Straight, Coiled, QR.. What’s What?? SUP Leashes and Safety”

  1. Great advice gents.

    Thanks for the link to our page.

    We also sell the Whetman Water Belt (made in Devon by a small UK company) for those people who who are worried by an emergency velcro release. Who would be worried? Well if you were on a downwinder, you might not want to be released from your board under strain. The Whetman water belt has two different manual emergency release buckles/shackles in easy reach instead of the one velcro, one manual.

    We announced many weeks ago that we were bundling the new version of the HF SUP buddy belt (not yet released) with every board sold in 2021. We had been discussing this through the summer and just wanted to make sure that the numbers added up for us.

    And we have it on good authority that another MAJOR brand are designing their own leash to bundle with their boards next year

    Stay safe out there everyone

    Andy (Team McConks)

    Like

    1. Thanks Andy – it’s a difficult topic mainly due to the grey info, and the lack of info for new paddlers!

      It’s great to hear you’re selling a QR Belt with every 2021 board also!

      Yes I have also heard such a rumour 🙂 and it is great news

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s