Warning for paddleboarders to use correct leash on anniversary of Cheltenham teacher's death

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The friend of a Cheltenham teacher who drowned in a freak paddleboarding accident on holiday in Cornwall is urging makers of the boards to improve their safety.

Sam Foyle is calling for all manufacturers to include a waist belt leashes as well as the standard ankle leash after his best friend Simon Flynn drowned after becoming trapped.

Sam, an experienced paddleboarder, lent his board to his friend to use on the Camel Estuary near Rock on August 31 last year.

But when the current knocked Simon off his board, his ankle leash trapped him under water as he and the board went on opposite sides of moored boat.

In the fast flowing water the 42-year-old was unable to reach his ankle and subsequently drowned.

Sam says what he saw made him determined to educate people about paddleboard leashes.

"When you see something as horrific as your best friend drowning because he can't release himself from his ankle is very very harrowing."

A year on from Simon's death, Sam says manufacturers are slow to update their paddleboard kits and explain the importance of each type of leash.

"It's really frustrating because you want to grab everyone and say you should be wearing a quick release waist belt - but I understand it, the education hasn't been there."

British Canoing recently updated their guidance on leashes for different water conditions Credit: British Canoeing

British Canoeing say a leash is a key source of safety when paddleboarding.

They say: "It is essential to choose the right kind of leash for the environment and conditions you are paddling in. Failure to do so could put your safety at risk".

This demonstration by Barry Hughes Paddlesport shows how difficult it is to reach your ankle if you fall off in fast flowing water.

The popularity of paddleboarding has rocketed over the past few years, especially with staycationers, but people have not been as quick to learn all the safety information around the sport.

Susan Bailey the director at Polkerris Watersports Centre says they are "massive advocates" for the sport but have concerns around people who are in the "intermediate stage".

She said: "People that need to be most mindful are those who are starting to venue out and get further away from land."

Susan says they need to assess the conditions closer including the wind, the weather, any specific hazards like rocks and tidal flow and what kit they're taking with them.

  • Chief instructor Poppy Burns has shared her top advice for people new to paddleboarding.