If you're a water sports enthusiast who is looking at stand-up paddleboarding as your next sport, you know that accessories can help make any sport safer and more comfortable. However, you'll find that one particular accessory, the board leash, seems to be the source of more controversy than any other accessory. Like surfboard leashes, paddleboard leashes keep the board attached to you so that the board doesn't float away if you fall off. You'll still find people who don't like them due to a couple of issues; however, take a look at the advantages of using a leash before you dismiss it.
One definite advantage is that you'll be able to paddleboard in more areas. Many locations require the use of a leash on surfboards and similar boards like those used in paddleboarding. If you do not use a leash and are spotted by lifeguards, harbor police, or whoever else is in charge of enforcing laws for recreational water use, you could be fined or face some other penalty.
The reasons for laws requiring a leash generally boil down to public safety. If you're paddleboarding and are hit by an unexpected wave, for example, your board could fly away from you -- and right toward another paddleboarder. Leashing the board to your leg restricts how far away the board can go, helping to protect other people in the water.
If you fall off the board and there's any sort of current or wave action, that board is going to start floating away from you quickly. If you're not a fast swimmer, you could end up losing your board because it's not going to automatically float toward shore. If you're paddling in a river, for example, the board could take off downstream with the current. If you can't catch up, you have no more board. The leash prevents the board from moving more than a few feet away from you.
When you choose a leash, look for one that has a secure but soft cuff. If you plan to use the leash while wearing a regular swimsuit and not a wetsuit, the cuff will be against your skin and can possibly chafe. That's one issue people have with leashes. Another is the risk of drag in the water if the leash ends up literally dragging along. Leashes tend to be a little longer than the board, so that can leave non-coiled leashes pretty much lying on the board as you paddle along (so you have part leading up to your leg and part attached to the board, and then the rest is left sitting there, fairly loose).
If the bulk of the leash falls in the water, that could create some drag if you're trying to go quickly. However, for most paddleboarders, drag isn't much of an issue because you're not really going for a speed record. And if you're really concerned, many leashes come with a coiled section, like an old stretchy telephone cord, that keeps the bulk in a rather tight bundle.
If you have more questions about why using a leash is a better idea, contact a paddleboard accessories company. There are several different types of leashes, and you'll be able to see which one suits you best.