With everything I said, I will add this. It most definately, absolutely has MOST to to initially with a tough guy factor. Ill tell you straight up thats why I did it years ago at first. Cause I wanted to go out with the boys on a big day, a half mile out, even on the cliffs where if you lose your board, it will bash against rocks until you get there... I wanted to show them some ol' macho sh**. It is what it is. You make it through a big day with no leash, getting tons of waves, it certainly makes you balls feel much bigger than they probably are... If you read a lot of the SPOT CHECK info on any website, look specifically at Sunset Cliffs, and even on wannasurf and stuff like that, it specifically says, and if you want to fit in the with locals and get a spot in the lineup, don't wear a leash.... its been going on for years, but yeah, its basically letting off a signal as you paddle out that you are about to take a legitimate spot in the lineup whether people like it or not... But its funny, cause the same thing will happen if you paddle out with no leash and you suck, as it goes when you walk down the beach with a used board with sponsor stickers all over it. That is a BOLD statement, and you better be able to back it up, otherwise you are going to have a pretty lame day at the beach...
But yeah, all in all its some ol' tough guy sh**. But leash dragging is a big factor. Its really is no matter the size of the day, and the kelp thing is INSANE. I mean, Ive felt like I was going to drown before getting caught up in the kelp forest because of my leash... It does happen... Not to mention on bigger days, there is nothing worse than getting up on a nice fast as$ big face, and stepping right on your leash, or getting it tangled up between your toes... I can't tell you how many times i have had to pull the old karate kid kic move where you stand on one foot for a split second to get your leash out from under you... it must be pretty funny from the beach. My wife has asked me a couple times, WTF was that you were doing on one leg?
Went sans leash tonight for the second time and after reading this the other night I promised myself I'd go without the cuff next time out. The first time I did it was because of hearing how it makes you more attentive to staying on the board and still being in my "formative" stages, any disciplined imprint I can make on my muscle memory will be valuable and long-lasting.
Granted, the "waves" still completely sucked tonight but at least I was getting takeoffs when a wave would break with the onshores and in nine or ten rides in the hour, I didn't slip or fall off the board once. I felt my foot placement was even more diligent during the pop-up. I liked the overall feel a ton as well as the constant accountability for the board.
It was pretty crowded out there with all other LBs (I was on the retro fish) but I was definitely the safest with my board as it never left my feet, chest or hands the whole time. Speaking of responsibility, two of the riders out there nearly took my head off when I saw them drop in and stayed way out past the flats to let them get their ride. Even though the rides were weak, these guys still could've got down the line but they went towards the beach instead. These were slow rides where they had a long ass time to see where I was and where they were headed. One of the two guys came within a foot of my board and head as I stood there. I let him know that was not the way to go at all.
I grew up learning without a leash, due to tough guy protocol. It definitely helps you become a better waterman and have more control of your board. Lots less drag on small days. When it is sharky however, it gives you a whole new perspective. And during a sharknado event, with a leash the board can tend to slap you around a few times before the sharks get you, kind of like pre tenderizing the meat.
On crowded days, I think it is the responsible thing to do, unless you can blast insane airs and never lose your board. I wear one, unless I am longboarding on a clean day in less crowded conditions. I've snapped a couple duck diving huge sets, which really sucks.
Sometimes you need one. Almost died swimming back in at the Point in Dominical after an ill fated duck dive way outside on a dropping tide trying to make it over a clean up set on a very big day. Body surfing over shallow boulders to get back in was hairball. Should have used a brand new leash that day. Also, I've been tombstoned on big days and pulled myself up with my leash. Once though I unknowingly pulled my self down, then had to push off the bottom with just about no breath left. Same thing that makes you laugh, makes you cry!