History of the Surfboard Leash

History of the Surfboard Leash

February 26, 2018 0 Comments

Surfboard Leashes: The urethane cord used to attach a surfer to a surfboard or bodyboard, also called leg ropes.


Surfboard leashes are board retention devices that have only been in existence for a few decades.

It wasn’t until 1971 that Pat O’Neill son of the legendary and recently deceased Jack O’Neill introduced the first surfboard leashes also known as leg ropes to surfing. Pat debuted his surfboard leash during the 1971 Malibu International surf contest. Like many innovations, the surfboard leash was ridiculed by the majority of surfers at the contest, who referred to the devices as, “Kook cords.” However, a few months later the surfboard leash gained enough traction to become an accepted tool of surfing.


Surfboard leashes decrease the danger of flying surfboards, and all but eliminate surfers swimming in the line-up after their surfboards. This increase in water safety, and board retention also allows surfers to catch more waves reducing the time between waves ridden, and repositioning to catch the next wave. Sounds like a win-win, right? So what did the first surfboard leash look like? The first surfboard leash was a surgical cord that was attached to a surfboard with a suction cup. This crude configuration likely had influence on the pushback surfers initially gave. The next innovation of the surfboard leash came from Larry Block of Block Enterprises who used bungee cord that attached the leash to his ankle, and was connected to the surfboard by poking a hole in a surfboard fin. Both of these variants were less than ideal. The surgical tubing first used was responsible for Jack O’Neill losing an eye to the tip of his surfboard, and many surfers from that era carry scars from the bungee cords that cinched around their ankles when tightened. Eventually, urethane coupled with webbing and Velcro was found to be ideal for surfboard leash construction, and is what is commonly used today.


So what’s next for surfboard leash innovation?

Surfboard leashes are safety devices that offer only board retention. Since surfing is inherently dangerous due to the environment it makes sense to incorporate some form of medical capability for surfers. According to the authors of Surf Survival, surfers own surfboards are responsible for 55% of surfing injuries. So what is the most common surfing injury? Lacerations. These lacerations can be from impacts between a surfer and surfboard, surfboard fin cuts, and another 11% are caused by impacts from a surfer with another surfer’s surfboard. Since the ocean environment precludes the use of most medical devices because of water, and not having a place to carry anything even the most relevant tool, a tourniquet is cumbersome to carry, that is until now.


OMNA Inc. has developed the next innovation of the surfboard leash with its Tourniquet Leashes.

By combining a urethane leash with a tourniquet that can be worn as an ankle cuff surfers now have board retention and a tourniquet for medical emergencies in one convenient surf accessory. In addition, while traditional surfboard leashes are made by a handful of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) in Asia, that lack certified quality management systems (QMS). These OEM’s just slap a company’s logo on the leash and packaging. However, since OMNA Tourniquet Leashes are Class 1 medical devices, they are required to have extensive quality management controls for manufacture such as the following:


  1. ISO 9001: Continuous improvement (QMS).
  2. ISO 13485: Medical Devices (QMS) required for international sales.
  3. RoHS 2 Compliance: Does not use harmful chemicals during manufacture.
  4. REACH Compliance: Does not use harmful chemicals during manufacture.
  5. FDA 21 CFR 820 (QMS)
  6. FDA Establishment Registration
  7. CE-Marked
  8. TGA Approved


What does this mean to you? OMNA Tourniquet Leashes are continuously improved upon during manufacture, all components are traceable so if something is found to be defective they can be rapidly recalled and replaced, environmentally conscious, FDA compliant, Certified Europe compliant, TGA approved, etc.



How many of these quality management controls do traditional surfboard leashes have? Zero.

How do traditional surfboard leashes compare to OMNA tourniquet leashes on price? The average retail of a 6’ x 7mm leash made by Dakine, Creatures of Leisure, Ocean & Earth, and FCS is $28.50 USD. An OMNA 6’ x 7mm tourniquet leash retails for $35.50 USD. So for $7.00 USD more you get board retention, and a legitimate commercial pre-hospital tourniquet (The tourniquet can be detached from your leash and taken with you camping, hiking, traveling too).


What do I gain with a tourniquet? A tourniquet is a basis life support device that can be applied to limb that is bleeding profusely to control bleeding so that neither hypovolemic shock nor death develops. This is vital in the event of the most common surfing injury, “Laceration,” which can be caused by marine predators, your surfboard, surfboard fins, collisions, reef, rocks, wipeouts, etc.


What’s something important to remember about tourniquets? Tourniquets are worthless unless they are on you. Having a tourniquet in your car or truck doesn’t do you any good in the water. You have a limited blood supply, and you have to keep as much of that blood in your body as possible. Furthermore, you need a tourniquet that is relevant to your sport, occupation, and environment. For Example:


  • Having to twist a bar is slower than simply lifting the lever of a ratchet. OMNA uses a ratchet to speed your application in the water.
  • As a surfer your tourniquet should be specifically made for the ocean. OMNA tourniquets are made specifically for the ocean with stainless steel hardware, and are wearable for easy carry and use.
  • Quality matters. Not all tourniquets are made the same. OMNA spends extra time and money in production to give you a better tourniquet. We don’t just make the cheapest thing that works, unlike other companies driven by profit.


If you’d like to know or learn more visit our website, read the articles, blog posts, or contact us directly at www.omnainc.com