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Before the amazing “life saving – board saving” legrope was invented, surfers had to contend with the ocean and sometimes rugged, rocky shorelines and still some how keep board, life and limb all in tact. Early versions of the leg rope were sometimes nothing short of a piece of your mums clothes line pinched and tied to the fin of your board via a hole drilled through the fiberglass.
In the process of evolution of the modern leg rope, many an individual surfer had a story to tell about how their leg rope cut their board in half, after failing to play nice with the rail or tail of their board. Today the modern leg rope has come a long way and now the high tech construction of these little beauties are nice to your board, your body and have contributed to many lives being saved – especially in challenging surf conditions.
History Of The Leg Rope
Early leg ropes were made of nylon cord, sometimes wrapped with a rubber outer layer of tubing, which was shorter than the contained inner length of cord. This acted to make the stretching of the strap and not your leg, when the wave would inevitably put a lot of stress on your leg as the power of the wave washed over your board after a wipeout or slamming from a hideous closeout when paddling out.
In the early 80’s the leg rope came of age with injection molded materials that included poly urethane which added the right amount of stretch without the fly-back-in-your-face effect the rubber/nlyon models were famous for. One of the things that made this safety step was the invention of the leg rope plug. After the drilled hole in the fin progressed to the next step a glassed on rovering loop (usually done with a pencil) – there came the leg rope plug.
Leg Rope Plug
The leg rope plug also had it’s troubles with the centre pin pulling out if hit by the hideous closeout or large wave. The plugs were made of plastic that just was not up to the amount of stress the ocean was placing on the board/plug combination. As all thing evolve like the leg rope, the humble plug has come of age and now is strong enough to cope with waves in the XXL range (20 foot plus). Not that many people are going to find themselves in such a predicament, but it is comforting knowledge to know the leggy plug is going to hang in there and not get ripped out.
The next step in technological advance of the humble “Leggy” came the advent of the rail saver. This device was designed to alleviate the leg rope cutting through your board due to the thinness of the cord cutting into the foam and fiberglass combo. Most modern leg ropes come with a rail saver built in but early models were only provided with a rail saver as an additional feature or device that was added to the leg rope.
High Tech Connections
Lastly the component of the leg rope to get the major overhaul was the connector of the foot strap to the leash component. This gained a swivel device early on in the 80’s versions but it also proved to be the weakest link in the chain. Now it is very uncommon to break a leash at these weak points, it is usually wearing a leash that is not suited to the size of the waves that leads to leg rope failure or breakage.