This is a widely debated subject in the kiteboarding forums. The debate over which type of leash is better and safer goes back and forth. This often comes about after a leash related accident or injury has occurred. So people want to know what is better, and which system is safer.
Many people have tried different systems, most people have a few leash related kitemare stories to relate as well. So the leash issue has been discussed, and debated, and studied. A top team of the most experienced kiteboarders and trainers, were interviewed and asked to compare the pros and cons of each different type and to compare the risk vs. benefits of each system. Surfboard style urethane leashes and reel type leashes were included and all available systems considered. The study also looked at many reported case studies of injuries and a few leash related deaths. And it was concluded that the best kiteboard leash, is no leash at all. The experts weighed risk benefits of each system evaluated, and ultimately concluded that the sheer number of known risks from using board leashes, far outweighed any of the benefits. Risks of using any board leash include board recoil, severed digits, head trauma, and leash related accidents from entanglements with the control bar and other objects, and death. The study found that the dangers presented by leashes had less to do with their individual design, but more to do with the physics between the board and rider. For example; when the kite loads up extreme force on the board will cause any system to turn a kiteboard into a deadly projectile. The forces on a kiteboarder are different from forces on a surfer. Surfers are usually in the water and are pulled for a relatively short time by the wave action, compared to a kite which can lift a kiteboarder upward and can also pull for an indefinite period of time. Any board leash system puts the board at odds with the rider, so an accident is just waiting to happen. Most people opt not to use a leash at all, and most schools never teach with them. They are for the general kiteboarding community considered unnecessary and obsolete. If you are still tempted to use a leash a quick Google search of leashes will turn up many incidents and case studies of leash related accidents. So the lessons learned from these incidents, is that there are no good kiteboard leashes, and it is better not to use one at all, Instead it is better to learn good board recovery techniques like upwind body dragging from the beginning, and ride with a buddy who can help you recover your board.