In the past 10 years, there have been a number of threads on KF on the
subject of "board leashes"... each one more and more enlightening that
the preceding one. Here is a link to the most recent discussion.
why bother with a board leash?
Here is a copy of a bunch of comments posted on other kite forums. A
lot of ideas are presented here, and hopefully, some of them will be
of value in helping you to realize why board leashes are used, and to
help those contemplating a decision about …if…when…and where to use a
Here they are:
“One could make a case for other "health safety" issues, related to
body dragging in various waters concerning:
(1) Pollution: I know of one popular kitesurfing location, just
downstream of a sewage treatment plant..
(2) Allergens: For example, a lot of kiters get "River Nose" from
dragging in the Columbia River in the Gorge...probably related to the
various pollens floating on the surface of the water.
(3) Hypersalinity: Shallow 'Bays' or 'Sounds' tend to concentrate the
salt in the water, resulting in solutions, that are highly irritable
to a kiter's eyes.
(4) Jellyfish or Portuguese Man of War: Your lycra top or wetsuit may
protect you from the trailing stinging "nematocysts", but just wait
until you get a string of the stuff across your face or into your
(5) Time of day: Lets leave it off here, and not start talking about
what a couple of fast gliding bare feet, look like to a shark, in the
fading light of day.
(6) Extremely cold water
(7) Use as a tourniquet: shark bite --lost arm--stop bleeding:
In this article a Surf board leash is used as tourniquet for daughters
shark bitten lost arm:
(8) It is the LAW:
Here is a typical ordinance (law) from Bogue Inlet Pier, North Carolina:
ec. 5-54. Leashes on surfboards required. No person shall use or
operate a surfboard or other similar device in the Atlantic Ocean
unless a rope or leash having a minimum length of four (4) feet is
physically attached to the surface of the surfboard and the opposite
end of the leash or rope is looped so that the leash may be placed
around the person's ankle or wrist for control of the surfboard or
other similar device while in operation or use in the Atlantic
Ocean.(Ord. of 2-10-09, § 2)Sec. 5-55. Penalty. Violation of any of
the provisions of this article shall constitute an infraction
punishable in accordance with section 1-6.
I don't think that we have seen the last of board leashes. Why?
Because it seems that a major trend in kiteboarding is toward wave
surfing, and the requisite kite-surf-board, complete with its sharp
pointy nose and big knifey looking fin.
Let's face it, real surfers don't want us in their breaks, and when
access problems occur, and then the attendant meetings and
negotiations start occurring, in an attempt to prohibit the banning of
kitesurfers, by the authorities...Do you think that the legitimate
surfers are going to support us, when they find out that, even though,
they themselves, as surfers are required by local ordinances to wear
leashes,...that we kitesurfers feel that we have a God-given right to
be exempt from restraining our surfboards, because "they might hurt
(9) Use with strapless boards, whether they be surfboards, skim
boards, wake skates or the soon to be popular (IMHO) Alaia. I see a
lot of strapless riders putting leashes on their boards, after a
couple of sessions in the waves, where they get to kite for about 2
minutes and then spend 20 to 30 minutes looking for their boards.
(10) Use with the up and coming discipline of kiteboard racing, where
the rider can not afford the loss of race time body-dragging for a
lost board. In the future we may see rules put forth by race
committees, who determine that loose race boards are a hazard to other
participants, and therefore board leashes may be required…A precedence
has been set in the required use of kite leashes, and a case could be
made that obligatory board leashes should follow this example.
(11) Use in areas where shallow water over reefs make body dragging
for a lost board more hazardous that using properly designed leash.
(12) Use during “ultra-low-wind” sessions, where a lot of boards are
lost, during the situation where the lack of the resistance, by not
having a board on the feet, prevents the rider from relaunching the
kite…as the rider gets slowly dragged further and further downwind,
until the board is out of sight and lost.
(13): ... If a kiter wished to make the case for the "flotation" of
the board, substituting as a "flotation device", he would have a tough
time doing so... unless he was using a "board leash". Once again, this
emphasizes the need for the development of a "safe" board leash...and
I would view this lack of interest, by the kiteboard industry, as a
(14) Retrieving someone elses board...The other day, I was kiting in
just horrible conditions with a friend who was using the kind of
leash, that has been previously described, which has an automatic
release disconnect, triggered by a 70 pound force. He went flying in a
40 MPH gust and his board leash automatically released, as it was
designed to do, and his board got loose. A huge lull then prevented
him from relaunching his kite and the current took him into a big wind
shadow... as his board disappeared down stream. I was able to easily
retrieve his board, by just reaching down and grabbing the remains of
the one meter leash, and then dragging the board to safety. The wind
conditions were horrible with long lulls at about 10 MPH and then
giant gusts to about 40MPH... and I would not have dared to try to
pick up and carry his board, in the conventional manner... it would
have been very dangerous for me.