Talking about kitesurfing safety, here’s the most important thing you will ever need to know: AVOID USING ANY TYPE OF KITEBOARD LEASH!
Using a kiteboard leash is a really bad habit still practiced by a good number of beginner (and not only) kitesurfers, and the level of danger it bears is deeply underestimated.
WHY DO KITEBOARD LEASH INJURIES HAPPEN?
When you are kitesurfing, it’s pretty normal to make a wrong maneuver even for an expert, to fall off your kiteboard into the water as a result, and to be dragged by the kite for some meters. What happens with your kiteboard in this situation? You usually will lose the board behind you, it will dive into the water and, if you are connected to it, the leash will work like a bungee and will throw the kiteboard against you with a rough power.
As you might imagine, a 4-5 kg heavy board thrown into your head while flying at a high speed can result in a big trauma. You might think it’s a very rare case that won’t happen to you, but believe me - it’s really common.
HOW TO AVOID KITEBOARD LEASH INJURIES?
During my kitesurfing career I‘ve seen many people get injured by their leashed board, and my close friends were among them. The only solution to this issue is to never permanently attach your kiteboard to yourself with any type of a leash while kitesurfing.
If you aren’t skilled enough to retrieve your board by an upwind body drag, the best thing you can do is to improve your body drag skills by spending two or three hours practicing. It’s a short amount of time to spend to prevent a very bad trauma, and it’s worth it.
CAN MY HELMET PROTECT ME?
You might argue that if you wear a helmet, you will be safe, but keep in mind that a helmet provides protection to your head only, and the kiteboard can be thrown into your face, your neck or any other body part. A friend of mine was hit by a kiteboard on his ankle on his kitesurfing vacation, and the result was a deep 10cm cut, a lot of blood, a very swollen leg and, of course, no kitesurfing for the entire vacation.
ARE REEL LEASHES THE SOLUTION?
Another myth that is spreading through the kitesurfers’ community is that reel leashes are the solution: the idea is that tension-loaded reel outs will extend further, will have a slow reeling back in and prevent the springing-back effect. This is really misleading, because that extra length can even increase the potential power that will propel the kiteboard to bounce back to you. And that’s not even considering the problems that a 4-5 meter-long leash can cause by tangling around your body or the kite bar’s safety systems. The advice remains the same: no board leash while kitesurfing.
AN OLD TRICK TO RETRIEVE YOUR BOARD
If you are afraid to lose your kiteboard or not to be able to body drag upwind to retrieve it, you can use the trick I tested myself when I was a beginner: put children’s floating rubber sleeves on your kiteboard’s handle. It will produce two positive effects: increased board visibility and the function of a small sail that will push the board quicker downwind, helping you to reach it faster.
BOARD RECOVERING TOOL
And what if you feel that children’s rubber sleeves are bad for your image? Well then, you can invest some cash and buy a device designed for kiteboard gear. Look for “Leash-less Board Recovering Tool” online.
Tell me what you think! Can you share your experience with a kiteboard leash? Do you have any other advice not mentioned here?
Post On the easiest way to get injured while kiteboarding: Kiteboard Leash!
Here is described how dangerous is to use a kiteboard leash
Written by: Gabriele Fabrizio Sbalbi
Kitesurf Kiteboarding Kiteboard Leash
Date published: 04/03/2014