Which leg should you wear your leash on? Does it really matter?

Back-foot; “The step-peg that one uses for control and power during sexy manoeuvres.”

It’s funny that I’ve been compelled to write about something that takes only a couple of seconds to explain, but I get asked this question so often that I actually think my response requires a permanent place on the wonderful web.

Your leash is supposed to attach to what is commonly known as your ‘back-foot’. Your back-foot is a term that I know best from surfing and it refers to the foot which is at the back of the board when I am riding a wave. My back-foot enables me to become naturally balanced as I deliver control and power to my manoeuvres and the reason my leash is attached to that foot is so that when I step back to ride the wave and control my board, my leash drags behind me and does not get tangled under my feet. That would happen every time if I were to strap the leash to my front foot thus hindering me from my maximum ability to shred the knar and a wayward leash would definitely cause an unwanted distraction when in the green room (Ha!). Just kidding, but not about the leash getting under your feet.

When most start out stand up paddleboarding they are not riding waves and stepping back to perform manoeuvres that require the leash to be out of the way. They are stood square footed and gently paddling their favourite stretch of water. However, rather than standing square footed (feet parallel) you should all be taught to stand on your board in what we call an engaged stance. That means one foot slightly in front of the other so that you can maintain balance when you rock forwards or backwards off balance. Standing with your feet totally parallel only really gives you lateral stability (side to side) and leaves the tiny muscles in your toes to do all the work of stabilising your forward and back discrepancies. So, it’s still a good idea to know which is your back foot so that you can stand in this correct engaged stance.

So, how do you discover your back foot? Well it’s hard to say but I have a couple of methods that I use on my clients although I’m sure there is a text book method out there. I encourage my guys and girls to initially just put the leash on the ankle that they reach to first as the leg that they first present to the leash is often the leg that they are happiest to control, or in my terms, that would be the leg that delivers the natural balance and control during a manoeuvre. Another test is to stand with both feet together on flat ground and get someone to push you backwards with a little force. The leg that you put backwards to catch your balance is most likely to be your natural back-foot. I stress, this is not an exact science but a method that might help your thirst for back-foot discovery!

With your back-foot potentially being discovered on dry land, you’ll now need to head into the water with your SUP and get stood up. Keep your head up and facing out towards the horizon and without looking down at your feet, take a step back into the ‘engaged stance’. Your leash should be on the ankle that is furthest back on the board. If this is not the case, you have probably not got the leash around your natural foot so come back to the land, take off your leash and swap it to the other ankle. One way or the other, you should feel that the leash is not a distraction. It should feel totally comfortable to wear and should not become tangled under your feet an any time.

I really hope this helps and wish you every success discovering your back-foot!

How’s your watersports experience: Do you even need any to SUP?

SUP Experience; “One’s self-proclaimed paddling ability in multiple scenarios over ‘some’ time.”

Sean White – WeSUP Paddleboard Centre

 

A great question that I am asked often and one that taps right into the fabric of the sports popularity, broad appeal and rapid success. But worryingly it could also stem the foundation of the sports bad press.

Take a look at yourself… Are you a fair weather paddler? I expect so, and rightly so! It takes a rare bread of human to find that certain allure to the water when the wind is howling and the waves are up. But what happens if you find yourself in such a situation when you were not expecting it and quite frankly it’s the last place on earth that you’d wish to be?

It happens and unfortunately it’s happening more and more often in the world of SUP. Lot’s of you will have found your own way to develop your SUP skills which is what’s so awesome about SUP. On a flat lake or calm ocean when the wind is light visibility is good, you can take all you’ve learned from YouTube or what Dave told you and become a happy leisure paddler who’s looking like an absolute boss in his girlfriend’s eyes. But those of you without any professional training trying to paddle in more challenging environments are often easily recognisable as you paddle past with the grace of a drunk man leaving Whetherspoons, stood bolt up-right with a unsteady wobble, whilst using the wrong ratio of 80% arm power and just 20% core power. As well as giving the beach spectators something to giggle at, paddling in this way massively prohibits your ability to paddle efficiently over distance and against the wind. You’ll be burning your arms out and leaving yourself vulnerable to unnecessary fatigue and consequent injury. Most importantly you leave yourself at the mercy of the elements as you lack the technical ability to power through the wind and more challenging elements that often descend on you without warning.

Whilst that all sounds a little blunt, we really, really care about your personal safety and the reputation of our beloved sport. Many people getting into SUP are finding that this is the first watersport they have ever been able to achieve, enjoy and access regularly but the simplicity of the sport at base level is leading people into a false sense of security that the sport is always simple and always safe. The lack of watersports experience presents a natural lack of understanding of the dangers that open water a rapidly changing weather can present.

There are lots of great instructors right across the country that can offer you a fantastic beginners lesson which will at least arm you with the principle understanding of good paddle skill and the effects of paddling into the wind. Advanced lessons such as WeSUP’s Safe Paddler Award is designed to teach you about the things you perhaps have never considered whilst being prepared for the weather and giving you the skills to cope if it all goes wrong.

My advice is to always undertake training from a professional before you venture off into the unknown but in case you think it will never happen to you, please consider the following points,

  • Assess the weather and wind direction for the entire period of time that you intend on paddling. Also, check the weather at your destination as there is a good chance it will be different from where you set off.
  • Always wear your leash and ensure it is in perfect condition.
  • Do your best to not paddle further from the shore line than you can absolutely swim back.
  • If you do paddle far from the shore, ensure you wear a personal floatation device (PFD) that suits you. The Restube is a great option that you wear like a belt and wont hinder your paddling comfort.
  • If you paddle out of ear and eyes shot from help, take a form of communication with you in a waterproof pack so you can call for help or support if required. Calling home for a collection after you got stuck downwind could be a lifesaver.
  • Always let someone know where you are going, when you intend on coming back and most importantly how to get hold of you in case of concern.
  • If you are going on a journey for fitness or adventure, plan for the worst. Pack a waterproof pack with a first aid kit, an extra layer for warmth, some water, and something to eat for energy