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Quick Release Leash on a Whitewater SUP

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VTStrider:
Hey All,

I found myself in a bind when I went to help an inexperienced kayaker that was swimming.  I was paddling a sexy red Stride Airlite HD whitewater board on rapids, for the second time in my life, on the Downriver Race for Tim Gavin on the Shenandoah in Harpers Ferry, WV.  I was decked out with sweet river gear, from my shiny new helmet, Lotus PFD, OíNeil super freak booties(What? im a surf kid), and XM Quick Release coil Stand-Up paddle leash.

Ok, so this story starts at the bottom of the upper stair case (for those of you that actually know where that is), about half way through the race.  This girl that I had been talking to earlier in the day got into trouble, rolled and had to pull her skirt.  I was behind her and watched as popped out of her boat, losing both her boat and paddle just before a drop.  I knew she was going over it, but the current was strong and she wasn't able to get to either piece of equipment.  So in my infinite knowledge of river rescue, which is NONE! I decided to paddle cross current and lend a helping hand.  BAD IDEA, I didn't paddle up stream enough and went right over the drop.

Now eating it over a drop, Iíve done that a few times before, but this time was different.  This time I went right into a large boulder right in the middle of the drop.  It wouldnít have been bad except my inflatable Airlite HD board went one way, and I went the other.  Now remember back to my sweet gear list, I'M WEARING A SURFING LEASH!!  I started over the falls like normal, but instead of flowing over and climbing back on my board; I felt a ton a tension to my ankle...then sucked right into a hole.  The board had got jammed on the other side of the rock and as I went over the falls, the stretch cord fully extended and sucked me down and held me there.  Now my background in all paddle and board sports is in the ocean or on nice calm bays, I am not used to rocks, holes, and water that wonít let you go... And there I was, stuck under water.

As I was getting tossed around under water I thought of two things: 1. I need to get out of here 2. I canít believe I am actually going to test the quick release on this leash.  So within a couple of seconds I reached myself up through the water pressure of the falls and yanked on the yellow quick release tab.  The leash shot off my ankle and I popped right out of the hole, and there was my board floating down river.  I grabbed it, grabbed her boat and paddle and got over into the eddy.  So all in all it worked out well.  I helped her get her gear back, tested out quick release leash, and didnít die... Iím happy with that.
Hope you all enjoyed this post.  I mean it when I say this leash is really important when running whitewater on a stand up paddle board. You need a leash to keep the board with you if you swim, but you need to be able to get away from it in an emergency.  Thanks XM surf leashes for making a bad ass leash.

Never stop exploring, never stop paddling.

Jay 

kwhilden:
Jay,
Very interesting story. I'm glad the quick-release worked  for you!

I think your experience should start a discussion on the need for a leash in SUP whitewater, and the best type of leash to use. I have 20+ years of whitewater kayaking and rescue experience, and the thought of using a leash on a typical whitewater river scares the crap out of me for exactly the situation you  describe. A leash is a built-in foot entrapment waiting to happen. I think you were lucky that the force of the water wasn't so strong to prevent you from reaching the quick-release on  your ankle. In most fatal entrapment situations, the force of the water is too strong for the victim to overcome.

I would love  for Dan Gavere or Corran to chime in on the  best practices for leash use in  whitewater SUP. In Dan's video,  it looks like he is using a leash connected to a quick-release on a rescue-style whitewater PFD.

I  also question  how important a leash is at all... no whitewater kayakers or rafters ever use  a leash, and instead learn how to self-rescue their equipment in the event  of a swim, and/or depend on buddies to rescue their gear.

Kevin

Allan Cheateaux:



--- Quote from: kwhilden on June 29, 2009, 11:13:42 AM ---In Dan's video,  it looks like he is using a leash connected to a quick-release on a rescue-style whitewater PFD.

I  also question  how important a leash is at all... no whitewater kayakers or rafters ever use  a leash, and instead learn how to self-rescue their equipment in the event  of a swim, and/or depend on buddies to rescue their gear.

Kevin

--- End quote ---

That's what we use... I would like to mod the ankle cuff to be a less cumbersome attachment, but it works pretty solid for right now. Just reach for your chest and pull is  a lot easier in entrapment scenarios than bending into your ankle...

But it's nice and out of the way most of the time. Attached to middle back is nice, although a half coil leash would be a benefit and keep it totally out of the way...

kwhilden:
Allan,
How useful is the leash, vs. just grabbing your board as you fall off with no leash?

Allan Cheateaux:
I swim a lot.... I mean A LOT. Most of the times I drag fins I go over pretty good and there have multiple times I was glad to be hooked up slightly while swimming into an eddy. To me, it's one less thing to worry about, unless you have to worry about it, you know?

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