Jose teaching a young girl the basics of sup surf at the tropical surfsup academy in Nosara Costa Rica.

Sup Surfing Tips: SUP Surf Leash & Fins

Leashes & Fins for Paddleboard Surfing

Leashes for Paddleboard Surfing

The leash is arguably the most critical piece of equipment you will have when you learn how to paddleboard surf. Leashes save thousands of lives every year, and you hardly notice. As a Paddleboard surfer, it is your duty on the water to have a good leash. Paddleboard surfboards, as we discussed earlier, can be more extensive, and any fall or wipe-out can be like shooting a missile from the bottom of your feet. Anyone in the path of the board could be in grave danger. A leash is also your life vest. If you take a wipeout without a leash, your board can surf to the shore, and if you are in a rip current, it can be a not so pretty experience. With your leash, you simply pull your board back to you and enjoy the rest of the day. 

Having the right leash makes you a responsible surfer and allows you to enjoy your day of surfing without having to worry about hurting someone else in the water.

  • Materials

    Today’s leashes are made of urethane. Leashes come in different thicknesses and have velcro straps attached to the board and velcro straps attached to your calf or ankle. Each leash also has metal swivels on both ends, preventing the leash from getting tangled.

  • Size & Shape

    The leash thickness will depend on how heavy you are and how heavy your board is. Generally, Paddleboard Surfing leashes are a little thicker because the boards for paddleboard surfing are more massive. A regular surfboard leash is around ¼ inch thick, and for Paddleboard Surfing, you usually don’t want less than 5/16 inch.  The leash length will depend on the size of your board. Most Paddleboard Surfers generally want to have a leash that is as long as their board or even one foot longer.

It is also better to use a straight leash for paddleboard surfing than the more common flatwater leashes that are coiled. Straight leashes are stronger as they do not go through the process of being heated to be coiled. This heating process makes them weaker than the straight leash.

  •  Care 

    • Don’t wrap your leash around the fins of your board.
    • Try and dry and wash with fresh water when you get home, mainly the velcro area.
    • If not surfing soon, then remove leash.
    • Always store as extended as possible with maybe one or two loops; do not roll into a tight ball.


Fins for Paddleboard Surfing

Who knew such a small item could have such a significant effect on how something. I always think of the amount of energy the ocean has with its tides and swells, and with a slight maneuver of our fins, you feel like you can completely dominate a wave.

Fins are a great piece of the quiver. Everyone loves fins. They remind us of dolphins, look cool, and feel how much they matter; you begin to have a whole new respect for them. It’s like you are out on the wave alone, but you know you got these little guys watching your back. Well, assuming you get some quality fins and not ones that will break too easily.

  • Materials 

    • Fiberglass/plastic/resin composites
    • Fiberglass  panels
    • Resin composite over a core material
    • Wood/Bamboo
    • Plastic
  • Size & Shape 

Fins can have a significant effect on your ride. Once you get more time in the water and experiment with different setups and sizes, you will understand. Fins help with different size boards, different ocean conditions, and the overall mechanics of your ride.

The characteristics are pretty impressive, and without diving into the fin-iverse of endless options, we will just go over the basics.

A large fin is going to give you a better grip on larger surf. It will keep your tail from being loose on the back end. On the other hand, a smaller fin is going easier to maneuver, but you will lose some control over the bigger surf.

Other than size, you have different setups in the back. Not all boards do all setups, so this is something to take into consideration when buying. Here are the different setups:

  • Single Fin 
      • creates good speed and less drag. 
      • Great for smooth slow turns. 
      • Hard to do sharp, quick turns.
  • Twin Fin  
      • more stable than a single fin
      • Board feels looser than a single fin
  • Thruster
      • Very stable
      • Able to make a lot of moves and tricks
      • Slows your speed
  • 2+1
      • Save set up as thruster but uses two small fins on the side and one longer fin in middle
      • Has a lot of drag 
      • You have a lot of control
  • Quad
    • More speed than the thruster
    • Feels loose
  • Care 

    • Careful when transporting
    • Remove from the board if you don’t plan on surfing.
    • Wash with fresh water 


Costa Rica Paddleboard Surf Camp

Looking to become an expert in SUPSurf. Learn from the Pros in Nosara, Costa Rica at the Tropical SUPSurf Academy one of Costa Rica’s top Paddleboard Surf Camp

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