Safety Elijah Mack / Bjoern R. Lob

Published on January 2nd, 2014 | by Elijah

Photo by Elijah Mack / Bjoern R. Lob |  2

Elijah Speaking Up on Safety

Hello Fellow River Surfers Around The World!

River surfing has grown so much in the past 5 years. I love the sport and I really want everyone to have fun and be safe! When I founded the WRSA (World River Surfing Association) back in 2002, I was driven to share my stoke and my river surfing knowledge. One of the very first pages I built for the WRSA website was dedicated to safety. I listed many issues, but the main concern I had was the use of leashes. It has been about 5 years since I have really involved myself with the promotion of river surfing and I have not been vocal about the direction of the sport.

Now with the explosion of our sport I must speak out: LEASHES SHOULD NEVER BE WORN ON A RIVER! I have so much to share but I do not want to share anything else at this time other than: LEASHES SHOULD NEVER BE WORN ON A RIVER!

 Any kind of rope on a river is a death trap.

When I started river surfing there were no other river surfers for me to surf with. All my earliest river peers were kayakers and raft guides. One of the first lessons I learned, was that any kind of rope on a river is a death trap. Now even many of my old friends from the kayak world who are river surfers now, are breaking this rule. In the future it is very likely there will be a fatality if this trend continues.

The only place I have ever worn a leash is Skookumchcuk Narrows. I did not wear a leash when I surfed Rapid #11 of the Zambezi river. I did take a 30 second hold down at Rapid #11 and ended up a solid 200ft down stream before I surfaced. But the risk of having a leash hang up on a rock was just to great. I would rather take a 30 second hold down than take a trip to the morgue.

So my question is this … Why would you wear a leash on a small wave with no dangers similar to what Skookumchuck Narrows presents? The answer is … you wouldn’t.

If you own a surfshop that caters to river surfing, if you are a leader in your river surfing community or if your just a river surfer who cares about the safety of others on the river, please speak up. From Munich to Missoula the time has come to make sure there are no leashes on rivers!

Please see Negs article on this subject for a more critical analysis of leashes on rivers.

Aloha
Mack

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Elijah

As one of the founding fathers of the sport, Eli has long been a huge inspiration for many river surfers around the world. His travels brought him to the remotest corners of the Earth. Having surfed over 200 river waves, Eli is kind of the godfather of river surfing. He is also the founder of the WRSA (World River Surfing Association).



  • Kevin Ludwig

    Thanks for pouring out such an important fact of river surfing. When Eli sold me two surfboards, the first boards I ever owned, he reiterated that I do not wear a leash in the river. Thanks to his concern for my future and my background in swimming I learned to be patient after crashing. River eddies: chair lifts.

  • Eli Edelkind

    Has anyone looked at the possibility of buidling a standing wave on the San Diego river in San Diego?

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