Friday, February 22, 2008

I told you so...

I'm being bombarded with tons of "Hey, I've been snapping leashes too!" emails and, "Yeah, which paddles do have a reputation for being tough?" The people want to know, there is interest!

The next paddle that I pick up will have as long a warranty period as I can find. I just have this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I'll snap any paddle within a year. It'd be nice to compile some paddle data over the course of one year. I'd like to determine which paddles make it a year and which are failing. Kind of a "Consumer Reports" style investigation. There's a lot of people who read this site, drop me an email about your paddle and how it's performed, send it to

Want more info? Check out the paddle piece Nate wrote up at for some solid paddle data.

A couple of ways to extend the life of your leash. Kelly sent me these tips for keeping your leash alive, they sounded good to me so I thought I'd pass them on:

"One important thing though is bailing technique, especially when you are simply caught inside and have some control over the situation. You have to line up your body so that it will drag through the water cleanly. Leaving your self sideways (perpendicular to the wave direction) and thus resisting the flow puts greater strain on the leash. I have also heard suggestions that you should get the slack out the leash before the wave hits so that the pressure won’t be so sudden. Do this by pushing your board away or diving deep. One of the worst possible leash strains is probably that more unique to SU situation where you jump over the back and the board gets caught by the wave. Your body is penetrating into the less active part of the wave and not flowing at all shoreward while the board is getting suddenly yanked by the wave. That was how I broke my not very thick 10’ leash that first big day."

Kelly makes a good point earlier in the note too, he writes, "With boards that are in the 20 - 25lb range and lots of buoyancy, breaks are to be expected". I have to agree, we're asking leashes to do a job they weren't really designed to do. But, from examining where my leashes have failed, I think they can be improved considerably.

So answer this question for me: If you've had a leash break, where exactly has it broken? Did your leash actually snap the cord in half, a clean cut? Or did your leash pop off of the cuff where it's melted/glued into the cuff "plug"? Did a swivel fail? I'm trying to compile some data here so I'm going to continue to ask for feed back. Hook me up. Tell me exactly where it broke!

In the words of the infamous Dennis Dragon, "Cords were useless, they snapped like peanut brittle!"


Jim Brewer said...

John-I broke 1 leash in 3 years so I wont be much help in that dept. I have been in BIG surf and never had a problem. When my first leash did break the other day it was from jumping off the wave and my board going over the falls. The leash was as old as dirt so it was time for it to go anyhow.

As for the carbon paddles they are going to break no matter what the make is and how big or small you are. I have been racing road bikes(bicycles) for years and have had many carbon frames, handle bars, wheels, seat posts, stems and other carbon items. The thing about carbon is that you are paying the big bucks for the light weight. Carbon is strong but not strong like a much heaver aluminum paddle. All it takes is a hair line crack and your carbon paddle is toast. If you want a paddle thats not going to break don't get a carbon paddle. I once had a $4,000 dollar carbon bike frame and it fell over and hit a small rock and put a tiny chip in the frame. That was it. The frame was history. Carbon fiber is like fish, "when in doubt throw it out". All that being said my QuickBlade carbon paddle lasted 3 years before I put a crack in it and it snapped.

John Ashley said...

Hey Jim-

That's really valuable information. I and I would suspect many others out there really don't understand "what you get" when you buy carbon.

Honestly, I had no idea- the only other things I had that were carbon were the bars for my kites (kitesurfing). I'm going to tell you something that'll make you cringe- I'd throw, literally toss, my paddle into the bed of my truck! I thought- shoot they make ferraris out of the stuff, must be strong. Evidently not so!

So thank you very much for informing me! Now I've got to rethink how I deal with my 6'3 carbon fiber Stu Kenson fish- if that thing snapped you'd see a grown man cry!

Anonymous said...


I used to break a lot of leashes. And I really do not think it had to do with my technique. I am good about kicking out and "drifting" with the board when there is a big pull.

Every time my leashes broke on me they failed at the adhesive glued connection between the cord and the sleeve, just before the swivel. I was frustrated that they didnt make the "old style" leashes anymore as I never had problems witht them. They still make them but they are the "cheapo" models with crap cuffs and rail savers.

You know the kind I am talking about. Where the cord was just made into a bight (eye) and then bent (sailors bend-type of knot) around a strong piece of small diameter rope and then heat shrinked to keep the whole terminal stream lined?

Well that is how I modify each and every leash now, straight out of the box, before one use. I have never broken a leash when set up this way.

John Ashley said...

Hey Wadadi:

I've been informally polling people on this and the I'm coming to the same conclusion- the cord isn't the weak link it's, as you say, the adhesive connection.

I had one of those cheaper brand hand tied with a like sheet bend (sailor's bend I assume is a similar knot)- the thing was great except the swivel had a sharp edge to it and that sawed through the cord! Bad design.

I do agree, a completely glue free, heavy duty cord, with all hand tied connections, shrinkwrapped with high quality cuffs and saver- that leash would be a much better product. Hmmmm.