After you've built your own kiteboard, you might be tempted to throw on a piece of rope or webbing and bungy cord to make sure it stays close. Don't. Learn how to body drag upwind. Here's why.
WARNING: graphic images of injury on steps 2, 3, and 4.
Step 1: Remove the Board Leash. Great, Now You're Done
If you lose your board, you should already know how to body drag upwind. If not, search the web for the technique and ask someone at the beach to show you some of the finer points. Body dragging upwind has all sorts of advantages besides reclaiming your board and is the sort of thing you should really know if you're going to kitesurf.
Back in April, kiteboarding legend Pete Lynn came to visit and test out some prototypes at Squid Labs. After a great session, he gave me a lecture about how I shouldn't be using a board leash and how the most pain he's ever felt was in direct relation to a board leash. I brushed it off claiming I always wore a helmet and used a length of rope rather than an energy storage device, like a bungy, to attach my board.
Saul wants it to be known that he's been on my case for years to ride without a board leash.
So, Pete's back in town and yesterday it was windy, so we went to beach. Before going out on the water, he gave me another lecture about board leashes and again I acknowledged, but ignored it. It was windy and we had prototypes to test!
If you're the type of person who can learn something without, say, a blow to the head, you're done. Enjoy kiting without a leash. If you're like me, by all means, carry on to the next step!
WARNING: graphic images of injury follow!
Step 2: 1 Hour After
In about 20 knots of wind, I took a big jump, didn't stick the landing, and got separated from my board. The kite was still powered up and dragging me, so when the board popped loose of the water it rocketed right at my head. My helmet took most of the blow protecting the back and side of my head, but the board still managed to connect with my cheek.
When people ask if they should wear a helmet for kiting/biking/sailing/whatever, I always say I've invested too much in my head not to wear a helmet, but the choice is theirs. I think this would have been a lot worse if I hadn't been wearing a helmet.
Step 3: Next Morning
I stayed awake for a few hours under the observation of friends of family to make sure my brain continued to function properly (swelling as a result of head trauma can be fatal if not treated). The next morning all the broken blood vessels made their presence known through a massive black eye, blood in my white of my eye, and loads of blood in my nose.
I've learned my lesson! Hopefully you have too.
Step 4: 48 Hours Afterwards
It only gets worse before it gets better.