Had to bring this post back to report on progress. I rode my surfboard strapless as much as possible all this summer. At this point, I ride it fine both directions and I am somewhere between 40 to 60% on my jibes. I rode some very light surf in Pensacola, but as of today I know that didn't count.
Today was my first day in real surf at St. Augustine, and I got my ass handed to me. I felt like I knew what to do, but just couldn't put it all together. Part of the problem may have been that wind was light and I was flying an old Xbow 16m. Many of my falls could have been avoided had I been able to get the kite around quicker to get moving before I got mashed by the next wave.
This was really the first time I really thought I might have wanted straps on the board just to keep a better hold on it mainly on my outbound runs.
As painful as it was, I did make it out a few times and did get that great ride back into shore which let me know why people actually want to kite in the surf
That was a blast.
Guess it is just like every other phase of kiteboarding and kitesurfing. Without taking your lumps, you will not get the reward.