Thu, 10 October 2019

TALKING POINT: You’re not cool, you’re a fool if you refuse to wear a leash while longboarding a busy spot, shouts legrope writer Wera Leishman, who unleashes both barrels at this trend.


STYLE AND SAFETY: A leash doesn't kill the glide, or make you look uncool. Photo Grant Scholtz

Let’s cut to the chase: It’s fucken' dangerous and stupid and you’re only doing it to look cool. I don’t go around juggling lit dynamite sticks and growling chainsaws at your kids’ playground. You probably shouldn’t do similar things in the line-up. Sorry, there’s no debate, no discussion, and no counter-point that isn’t utterly selfish, and plain antisocial. Does this really, actually, need to be explained?

Please. Attach yourself to your board, or attach yourself to land.At a crowded spot - especially the nursery that is Muizenberg - it says nothing more than "my image and the miniscule amount of diminished drag and tiny boost in performance it gives me is more important than everyone's safety". Please. Attach yourself to your board, or attach yourself to land. The only circumstances where it’s acceptable, is if you’re all by yourself at some lonely beach (probably not Cape Town), or there’s a handful of you on a gentle, reliable point (definitely not Cape Town) then by all means, unstrap yourself and get some zen points.

The only place I’ve seen more unleashed surfers than Muizenberg is Puerto Escondido, where the locals go strapless. Raglan is a distant third. Peurto is short rides, short boards, close to the beach, and definitely with no children or rookies milling about in the foamies, and so it’s a lot less hazardous. But, I still couldn’t help wondering if was less about practicality and more about machismo.


WHO IS EXEMPT? Can you be so skilled you definitely don't need a leash? Photo Grant Scholtz

So, be honest with yourself now: is it more the feeling of your completely free feet skipping up and down the board? Or is two bare ankles a signal to other people that you look back to surfing’s golden age for inspiration? Does it well up a feeling of God-fearing adoration when the minions purvey the sublime skill and grace of your witless slide? And you’re so good that you never, ever, like not even once lose control of your board? You’re that good. And you want everyone to know.

Yet, as a surfer of any slight level of competence, part of your skill set is to evaluate the conditions - and that includes other people present, and then make smart decisions accordingly – and that includes everyone’s safety. If you can't do this, you don't belong in the line-up.

You probably think of yourself as gentle and kind and, like, at one with Mother Earth. You see connections between all living things, and probably a few inanimate things too. But for someone so well grounded, you’re not very good at assessing the environment, or imagining the consequences of your own actions. Remember – that 3rd eye is focused on yourself.


JUST CRUISING: Most wear leashes because its always been what you do. Photo Grant Scholtz

We tend to forget that the reasons surfing has rules, such as don't drop in or take your turn to catch the next wave, isn't because we're selfish or greedy – it’s about safety. Leashes might have been invented for convenience, but these days it’s a lot more about not having (nearly literal) loose cannons. It’s not the 60s anymore. Line-ups are busy. Other people are around. You need to consider that. That’s why it’s called ‘being considerate’.

You’re a dick. Or maybe a facial reconstruction surgeon. Possibly both.Disagree? I dare you to justify it without putting yourself at the centre of your view. Yes, you’re entitled to your opinion, but not all opinions are equal in merit. So, tell me about your freedoms, your choices, your rights or whatever. And that’s exactly my point – it’s about you, your ego; not anyone else around you. And do you know what that means? You’re a dick. Or maybe a facial reconstruction surgeon. Possibly both. But definitely a dick. Remember, there was a time, not all that long ago, when you could smash a dozen beers, get your car keys out and wave to your mates as you drove off. It was cool. “Jirre, I don’t remember how I got home after the jol.” Hahaha, what a guy. So, in a public space you deliberately limited the control you had over a potentially lethal craft, and it’s socially acceptable? Let go of the reigns and hoist a middle finger to society. Such a rebel, so carefree.


SINGLE FIN MISSILE: No-one wishes to be speared by a flying nose-rider. Photo Scholtz

‘Chill bro, nothing will happen.’ ‘Don't be so self-righteous’ ‘See, nothing happened, so what’s the problem?’ If that sounds familiar, it’s because the drunk driver churns out the same sounds you pseudo-hippie.

Now, obviously a one-ton-plus car at freeway speeds is a lot more dangerous than a 12kg log in a foamy, but you’re on the same spectrum. You’re not a dick because you’ve hurt someone – you’re a dick because you’re deliberately increasing the potential to.

Ultimately, you probably won’t, but you could. You could also really hurt someone. You could ruin the holiday of a lifetime. You could turn a dream getting into surfing into an actual nightmare. You could scar someone for life. You want to be that guy or girl? Yes? Well, fine then. Fuck you, too.


Wade G
0 #1 MrWade G 2019-10-10 08:22
100% Agree , been a bug bear of mine for years,
Nobody, never falls off... and at a nursery for young surfers like the berg, its just completely ludicrous that this is cool .
Well said !!
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