I am not an evangelical proponent of one or the other, though for myself, I have come to preffer one over the other. That preference was made possible by learning strapped first, - though my original intention was only to learn strapped first, then put the straps in the bin and never ride strapped again. In the end, I wound up doing the opposite of the hype that I originally bought into as I was able to experience both and evaluate without hinderance.
I am a proponent of exposing the hype that perpetuates the "strappless is the only real kitesurfing" idea. Should I have not learned strapped first, I may agree with this strapless only mentality. Lucky, a simple choice of "order of operations" saved me from that fate, nothing else. And that lucky choice was the simple plan to learn strapped first, then strapless for the rest of my time in kiteboarding.
Strapless is a valid and fruitful expression of kiteboarding. I do not wish to see it ended - just the hype. And advertising by way of pro-riders DOES follow the hype. So hold off on the false equivalency of "what the pros are doing". I am not a pro. I am not a groupie. I judge for myself. Others judgements are important to me, but those espoused judgements do not steer my thinking by numbers or level of skill of those kiteboarders holding to those ideals.
Should you wish to point out a flaw in my argument, sift through the below comparison for something you disagree with. This lays out positives on both sides without any attempt to shame one or the other.
The positives/arguments FOR being strapless are as follows.
1. Strapless allows you to simulate prone surfing as kitepower is limited by being strapless. Without straps, the rider must focus on limiting the power of the kite, and therefore the wave ride is much more like a prone surfing wave ride without a kite.
2. Strapless allows you to limit impacts to your body as kitepower is limited by being strapless, and high “Boosting” (sending the kite with abandon) jumps are eliminated.
3. Strapless allows you to move your feet around as required on surfboards considered unnecessarily large for kiteboarding. Typically, boards in the range of 6’6” and up are not used in kitesurfing as that extra length is unneeded and actually a hindrance to performance. But if oversized boards are used, they require lots of foot movement that cannot easily be performed with straps.
4. Strapless eliminates the possibility of injury due to one foot coming out of a strap, while the other one is retained. Injuries to foot, lower leg, knee, and hip are frequent when one foot comes out of the strap while the board twists the foot/leg still in the other strap.
The positives/arguments FOR being strapped is as follows.
1. Strapped allows you to maximize the power potential of the kite/kitesurfer/kitesurfboard system. With straps, kite pull, sideloading of the board/fins, and board speed through chop, can be much higher with straps as they provide the last link to make the system solidly connected.
2. Strapped allows you to quickly boost over incoming breaking waves. This means a quicker ride out, less impacts from breaking waves, and less wear and tear on your body (and kite) while stuck on the inside waiting for a way out.
3. Strapped kitesurfboards are typically small enough to not require foot movement on a wave powered or not. The straps also allow upward pressure, higher sideways pressure, and even twisting moments, thus making a smaller board perform with a much wider envelope than it would without the straps.
4. Strapped reduces the likelihood of shallow water foot, ankle, and knee injuries due to being bounced off the board or one foot slipping off and contacting the bottom at speed.