Surfing has come a long way in the last half a decade. With the advent of the modern, foam-core surfboard, the sport has evolved faster than ever before. Such evolution includes the introduction of certain accessories aimed not only at improving the way people surf, but also the way the live their lives as a surfer. The leash, surf wax and board bags are three great examples of how surfing has progressed – now you can't get by without them!
Credit for the invention of the surf leash goes to Pat O'Neill, son of legendary wetsuit innovator, Jack O'Neill. Until the early 1970s, surfers were detached from their boards completely. This meant that any time they wiped out, riders were forced to swim after their boards before they crashed onto the rocks, got thrashed by the waves, or whizzed into nearby surfers. O'Neill was hoping to change this pattern when he devised the first leash – a surgical cord wrapped around his wrist and attached to his board with a suction cup. At the time, "kook cords" were thought of as lazy and unnecessary, but eventually they caught on.
Now, surfers everywhere wear leashes. The early use of surgical cords was eventually replaced by more modern materials and technology. Urethane cords of varying thicknesses are now strapped around the ankle with Velcro attachments. Urethane, while elastic, does not spring back as quickly as the earlier leashes did, lessening the danger to the wearer. The leash attaches to the board by slipping into a plug on the tail end of the deck, which is laminated into place during the glassing process.
While some critics maintain that the widespread use of leashes has made surfers lazier overall, most people recognize that they allow riders to up the ante and take their tricks to the next level. Without the fear of losing an expensive board, surfers can now go big over and over again until they get it right. As a result, surfing as a sport has progressed and leashes are here to stay.
Before surf wax came about, surfers were slipping and sliding all over their board. This made paddling, popping up and riding much more difficult than it is now. Surf wax arrived on the market in the 1960s, giving surfers the traction they needed to do their thing. The major surf wax distributors are still led by the pioneers at Wax Research, whose purple Waxmate set off the widespread use of wax we see today (now they market their wax under the name Sticky Bumps). Other big companies include Mr. Zog's Sex Wax, One Ball Jay and Mrs. Palmer's.
The technology behind surf wax has come leaps and bounds. Waxes for every kind of water temperature are now available, as are corresponding tools like the wax comb to rough up the layers of wax already on your board. The trick is knowing when you need to scrape off the old stuff and apply a brand new coat. Basically, when your board starts to feel noticeably heavier than usual, it's a good indication that you need a clean slate.
Applying surf wax is incredibly easy: start off by removing the cake of wax from the plastic wrapper, rub it in circular or crosshatch patterns across the part of the board where you stand, then get in the water and ride. Simple as that.
One of the greatest parts about being a surfer is packing your bags and embarking on a stellar surf trip. Waves all over the world provide surfers with idyllic destination vacations, and at some point you'll find yourself unable to stay away.
Traveling with a board can be tricky business. The surface of the average surfboard is waxy and dirty, not to mention the load is awkward to carry and position. Board bags are designed with your ease of travel in mind. Some come with wheels, while others sport straps for carrying over your shoulder.
Industry giants such as DaKine, Rip Curl and FCS all market their own take on the board bag, with several key components in common. They are usually padded in one way or another, they tend to have zipper closures that wrap around the outer edges of the bag, and they are designed for a specific length of board
Other than those major design elements, board bags are pretty diverse. Some bags feature a quiver-holder – padded slots capable of storing as many as five or more fin-less surfboards. Others have foam embedded into the walls of the bag to reinforce its strength and shape. Because board bags are often exposed to the sun, UV protection is built into the outer material of some. Nose guards, wheels, fin slots (for permanent, glassed-on fins) and stash pockets round out some other common features found in board bags.
Of course, the more tech the bag, the higher the price. However, depending on the type and frequency of your travels it may be worth it to protect your board (and sanity!) while on the road.