It is kind of in the way. Is there a reason why it has to be as long as it is?
It is a very good question - and you got the answer: It is for handle passes and unhooked use
As I ride hooked most of the time, I can and will not use such a long leash - would be a total mess to have "flying around", and in the way.
So I have a very very short leash instead, it actually only has to be 1 or 1½ foot long - much better and not in the way
Apart from the days where I dont use a leash - as at many wavespots it makes no sense and you can choose to ride without the leash (when hooked, and not having a push release - so you dont accidentally unhook)