Joel Tudor is one of the greatest longboarders of all time but can afford not to wear a legrope in competition. Photo: Gleeson/WSL
Joel Tudor is one of the greatest longboarders of all time but can afford not to wear a legrope in competition. Photo: Gleeson/WSL

OPINION: Why it’s not cool surfing with no leg rope

LOOK out, there's a new Surf Nazi on the loose.

It's a hipster wearing a manbun that surfs on a log (old Malibu Longboard) and without a leg rope.

Predominantly male, these throwbacks think they are from imaginary time back in the 60s prior to leg-ropes.

They think it's cool to go surfing without a leash and then lose their board in a crowded line-up with horrible consequences.

From Byron Bay to Noosa they are a plague, a blight on surfing humanity and have no responsibility or care for others. Seriously, they are a deadset worry.

And, quite frankly, shouldn't be allowed to impose this type of negligent, reckless behaviour.

In the last three months, I have had numerous complaints.

Our local Division 14 Councillor Gail O'Neil raised the community concerns at our local stewardship committee for the council's World Surfing Reserve management.

The council's City Beaches department is now working on a dual campaign with Surfing Queensland to encourage the surf safety message that includes wearing a leg rope at all times, especially in an overcrowded location.

I do remember that special time in the 1960s when you only had one board and a wipe-out from out the back would cost you a big swim to the beach.

The locals at Burleigh had the worst looking boards from being punished on the rocks.

Their boards were noticeably discoloured from being waterlogged.

Not sure who was the originator of the cord, but recall how crude the earlier versions were and fatalistic with many casualties resulting in blindness, nasty cuts and in the most extreme cases groin damage.

And not everyone was sold on the idea at first.

The surfing purists were saying that it wasn't real surfing and it was cheating.

I think Gordon Merchant was probably the first to use one made from surgical rubber at Burleigh, that was a couple of years before he established Billabong.

When Russell Hughes, one of the most charismatic, coolest and stylish surfers on the planet, declared in 1971 that leg ropes were magic, the floodgates were open.

It would be funny to observe these nostalgic posers if it weren't for the carnage. Unfortunately, there's nothing stopping them.

The last thing I would like to see is people being fined for not wearing a leg rope.

This type of enforcement would be hard to regulate and to be avoided as a last option. So, what's the answer then?

I would strenuously encourage everyone to be responsible and avoid accidents.

The culprits could be shamed, and I do suggest if you are hit or hurt by an out of control logger that weighs a tonne, I would urge litigation.

The victims should act against the perpetrators, gather witnesses, compile evidence and use your legal right.

Unless you are Longboard genius like Joel Tudor in a World Longboard final, do the right thing, wear a leg-rope and promote surf safety.