Surfers reminded to use a board leash

Surfers are being reminded to wear a board leash when out on the water this summer, in the wake of increasing incidents.

A 9-year-old boy in Sumner recently required hospital treatment for a head injury, after being hit by a loose board.

Part of global ‘surfer’s code’

Under the Canterbury Navigation and Safety Bylaw, stand-up paddleboarders are required to wear a leash whilst surfing, but it’s not currently mandatory for surfers.

Deputy Harbourmaster Guy Harris said that whilst it’s not explicitly stated, it’s part of the global ‘surfer’s code’.

“Surfing is a sport of very few rules, but wearing a leash is one of them.”

Harris said that during his time surfing, he has noticed a small minority of surfers who don’t feel the need to wear a leash. This has been highlighted by several recent accidents with people getting hit by a loose board.

“I’ve been surfing for nearly 40 years in many different conditions and I’ve never felt the need to surf without a leash. Over this time, most of the serious incidents I’ve come across have been due to surfboards hitting people. These types of accidents can be drastically reduced with the use of leashes,” he said.

Surfboard leashes hassle-free

With summer here and the sea warming up, more people are taking to the surf.

Harris wants to remind surfers that leashes are cheap and hardly noticeable when worn.

“They have practically zero effect on your surfing – perhaps other than to give you some confidence that you won’t lose your board and potentially ruin someone’s day - or even their life,” he said.