Fixed board leashes can help you keep your board. They do it all the time. They also can seriously injury riders and there is evidence that leash use may have led to the recent kiteboarder fatality in Belgium. There is another unconfirmed report of a board impact temporarily paralyzing a rider in the Gorge. Both of these riders were wearing helmets. There is NOTHING to indicate that a rebounding board will cooperate and only hit an area protected by a helmet.
Additionally, there are several cases in which a board struck the helmet and pierced it and impacted the riders' skulls. Does this happen all the time? No. Does it happen often enough to bring the use of fixed leashes into question? YES. Helmets should be worn to protect against accidental lofting and dragging however.
Fixed leashes have no place in safe kiteboarding based on the accident experience. There is room for innovation for new leash designs that may be less prone to recoiling and causing injury. For now though the risk posed by fixed leashes as supported by the history of accidents far exceeds the benefit provided by them. Body dragging to recover your board is not that difficult in many cases. If you are concerned about having your runaway board drift into surf and possibly hit bathers, you have a problem. Picking another spot to ride may be one solution.
It is time to ditch the fixed board leashes.
<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: RickI on 2002-11-18 14:17 ]</font>
I fully agree that board leashes are more a pain than a solution.. I also understand that it secures beginners who fear to loose their board.. so the only advise would be learn to bodydrag upwind before go and kiteboarding.. then no more trouble..
Even if I'm sure that I gonna be flamed for that I would like to add that I have the same point of view on kite leash.. to me until we find a really secure system, kiteleashes are potentially also more a pain than a solution...
Funny you should mention that. I left part of a leash, the nylon webbing part, on one of my boards. It does make a very convenient handle. A short landyard or section of strap that isn't prone to tangling may be a good idea.
I definately agree about ditching the leash, when I sued to use one I once got hit in the harness (where it was attached) so hard it hurt through the harness, so imagine what it would have been like if it had hit my body, you just can't control where the board goes and boydraggin upwind back to the board is easy if you paractice.
One thing about helmets, in another thread I read the gath isn't a crash or impact helmet and you say a baord can cut through a helmet so is a helmet like this really gonna do a lot protect your head if you get slammed into something hard?
The Gath is a well made helmet with low drag characteristics. It doesn't have a lot of padding and that MAY limit its effectiveness in some of the more rare, higher speed impacts possible in kiteboarding.
Helmets protect your head in a few ways. First the shell, ideally, should stop piercing of the helmet and in turn your skull. Aside from slingshotting boards, most of the other impacts will likely be with blunt objects, i.e. the beach, pavement, walls, trees, etc. So the piercing potential should be less in many of these types of impacts. Particularly if you fix the main source of piercing impacts by ditching your board leash. There is a good chance that a slingshotting board could pierce many types of helmets.
The second and critical way in which helmets may protect you from impact is to slow down the impact by fractions of a second. The resulting lengthening of the decceleration time, even by hundreths of a second, can potentially reduce injury to your brain through impact against your skull and torquing. The deceleration of a given helmet is a function of the shell material but more critically of the type of absorptive foam and the thickness. Motorcyle and flight helmets have superior impact absorption qualities. Unfortunately, they are totally unsuited for kiteboarding because of many factors, weight, drag on impact with water, poor water drainage characteristics,etc. You need to find a balance between type of padding and thickness, shell resilence, light weight, low drag and protective value.
So, helmets should be worn to try to reduce the degree of injury and improve the odds of survival in a lofting or dragging accident. Of course they can do wonders to fend off the odd wave driven, low speed board impact too. There is NO ASSURANCE that any useable helmet for kiteboarding will spare you from serious injury or death in a severe impact however.
The main thing that will save you from that is to never go there in the first place. That is using proper training, good judgment and safe kiteboarding practices to AVOID the accident in the first place. It is like not driving off of cliffs because once you have there is not much that you can do. All the cure comes in the prevention.
Good to hear that so many can agree that the standard fixed leash should not be used !
When I teach kitesurfing - I tell them NOT to use the leash, and explains why.
Also - that it is way safer to wear a helmet, and IF using a leash - you HAVE to wear a helmet.
But for very beginners (in shallow water, and often with another to assist) and for advanced kiters, no-leashed is the way.
The biggest problem seems to be the intermediate kiters, who wants a leash - because they go far out, without 100% control.
But like you all say - it would be better to learn to bodydrag early in the learning process.
And get used to stay closer to shore, if you are not having 100% control yet.
And IF it happens, that you get a nasty wipeout and looses your board, and at the same time "downs" your kite way to the lee (as an intermediate) - it would be better and safer to drift or relaunch if possible, go ashore, and have someone else help with the board, if it does not drift ashore by itself.
So ditch the "attached" leash and leave a "grab" leash. How long would be too long? 10 feet would help when body dragging by it. What about a float on the end of the leash? Would the leash float upwind or downwind of the board?
A had an 1/8 in. by 8 ft. nylon on a board for a while. It tended to tangle on everything and was a hazard. A thicker, stiffer and shorter line may not be as prone to tangling. The nylon strap that I have on one board is about 6 inches long.