Should I use a board leash?
When you first starting kitesurfing and fall off, it can be a job & a half getting back to your board.
It's tempting to grab a rubber leash from your surfboard, and think you'll be right from here on. You'll never lose your board again!
BUT kitesurfing is different. You have an extremely powerful kite attached to your body. The danger occurs when you fall off your board and it "submarines" (heads under water) and your kite powers up. If you've got a leash, you've now got two opposing forces:
The board underwater pulling against the kite overhead - and who's in the middle connected to both?
Somethings gotta give and it's not going to be the kite! Usually the board will eventually find a way out of the water and then propel itself at you with incredible speed. If you're lucky, it might just graze you. It may also knock you out. It can be worse, and people have scars to prove it. One kiter who had his forearm broken when his reflexes put his hand up to protect his face.
The aim of a leash is to save you swimming after, or losing your favourite board. No need to risk life & limb over that!
The solution is easy:
Get the hang of body dragging.
Like many things, it's hard at first, but gets easier quicker. Use your whole body as a rudder - stick your arm out in front of you if necessary, and gently steer the kite towards where you fell in. Rapid kite turns will chew up all the ground you just made. If you need to change direction, redirect the kite gently. (It's also at times like this, when you're looking for your board, that you may regret not getting a board colour that stands out in the water!)
Learning to body drags means take the time to get the hang of it before you need to use it. You don't want to be learning when you don't know where your board is, you're in a strong current, or others aren't around to help.
If you still want a leash, then you need a helmet and an impact vest. You might investigate a "Reel Leash". Sometimes you may have just crashed your kite and your board is still near. Relaunching your kite can be made easier if you don't have to worry about your board constantly drifty away. The idea is that you can connect you leash to the board (whilst not in danger and the board is above water) so you can focus on getting your kite back in the air. Even still, you should only connect the leash to your board temporarily and disconnect when you kite is up.. Although the danger may be less, the danger still remains. If your kite powers up more than you expected, you can still find yourself floating through the air and high speed board looking for your head.
* Learn to body drag
* Avoid board leashes
How to go from Surfing to Kitesurfing
If you've never kitesurfed before, but love your surfing, then read on to see how you can turn those blown-out days into something amazing...
Where to kitesurf in Western Australia (official)
WAKSA (West Aus Kitesurfing Association) list of kiting areas