Kiteboarding: glossary is knowledge

Kiteboarding is a relatively new sport with several wind terms and sailing concepts.


The kiteboarding glossary helps all levels of kitesurfer getting a common language for the sport. Discover the vocabulary of kiteboarding and learn new words:

Backing Wind - an anti-clockwise change in wind direction, i.e., North to West
Balance Drag - a controlled downwind facing body drag, holding the kite at the 12 position
Board Retrieval Body Drag - a controlled beam reach body drag, with the kite positioned between 10 and 12
Board Start - the manoeuvre by which the pilot first rises out of the water on the board
Body Dragging - generic term for using kite power to drag the body through the water without the board
Boost - upward movement during a kiteboard jump
Bow Kite - leading edge inflatable kite of shallow curvature flown with the aid of a bridle
Bridle - lines used to support the leading edge of a kite
C-Kite - leading edge inflatable kite with large curvature
Carving Turn - turning within an arc performed at planning speed
Chicken Loop - connection point between the pilot's harness and the control bar
Chop Hop - small jump instigated by a wave rather than the power of the kite
Control Bar - steering bar used to control the kite in flight
Crosswind Body Dragging - powered body drag while flying the kite in a sine wave on one side of wind window to produce power and direction from the kite
Deep-Water Pack-Down - method used to pack up the kiteboarding kit ready to be recovered from the water
Directional Board - an asymmetric board, with a nose and a tail ridden in one direction only and has to be kicked or gybed
Diving - term used to describe downward flight movement of kite to generate power
Downwind - travelling in the same direction as the wind
Downwind Kite Down - action required by the downwind (give way) kiteboarder to avoid a collision with another kiteboarder approaching from the opposite direction
Dump Valve - valve to release air from the kite
Figure-of-Eight - flight pattern for the kite used to generate power in a downwind direction
Goofy Direction - riding with your right foot forward
Gust - momentary increase in wind speed
Heelside Edge - edge of the board where your feet face inward
Hybrid Lite - leading edge inflatable kite that combines the best attributes of the Bow and C-Kite designs
Inflation - valve used to inflate the kite
Intermediate Zone - area of the wind window used to generate controlled power in a given direction
Katabatic Wind - air stream that descends down a hill or mountain
Kite Canopy - the material surface of the kite
Landing Assistant - person designated to help land a kite
Larks Head Knot - attachment used to connect control lines to the kite bridle
Launch Assistant - person designated to help launch a kite
Leading Edge - the front edge of the kite that meets the wind first
Leash - bungee cord used to connect the pilot to the safety line of the kite
Leeward - term describing the downwind side of an object. Opposite to windward
LEI - leading edge inflatable kite
Lull - momentary drop in wind speed
Neutral Zone - area around the edge of the wind window
Pilot - person flying a kite
Pop - small jump created by increasing pressure on the surface of the board
Port Tack - travelling to the left with the wind coming from behind
Power Zone - area within the wind window downwind of the pilot that generates greatest force
Pre-Flight Checks - final checks before putting the kite into the launch position
Rail - leading and trailing longitudinal edges of the board
Regular Direction - riding with your left foot forward
Relaunch - a method of re-launching a LEI kite with a line attached to the centre of its leading edge
Rider - the person piloting the kiteboard
Riding Upwind - travelling towards the wind source
Rigging Up - assembling the equipment ready for a kiteboarding session
Rocker - longitudinal curvature within the board
Safety Pack Down - safe method to pack up the equipment while at sea
Sitting Gybe - a basic turn using a twin tip board
Starboard Tack - travelling to the right with the wind coming from behind
Static Zone - area within the wind window where the kite can remain still
Toeside - edge of the board where your feet face outward. Also describes riding face-to to the wind
Trailing Edge - back edge of the kite
Training Gybe - basic standing turn using a twin tip board
Training Kite - simple foil kite used to introduce basic flying skills
Twin Tip Board - common type of symmetrical kiteboard
Upwind Kite Up - action required by the upwind (right of way) kiteboarder to avoid collision
V - term used to describe the bottom contour shape of a board
Veering Wind - wind changing direction in a clockwise direction, i.e., West to North
Venturi Effect - increase in air speed caused when the wind funnels through a restricted space
Wave Board - directional kiteboard used for riding waves
Wind Compression - increase in air speed caused when the wind rises up over land or objects
Wind Convergence - increase in air speed caused when the wind travels through a restricted space
Wind Direction - wind is described from its point of origin, i.e., a north wind comes from the North and heads South
Wind Force - wind speed measured on the Beaufort scale
Wind Window - area in which a kite can fly in relation to the wind direction
Windward - term describing the upwind side of an object. Opposite to leeward

The glossary of kiteboarding is available in the book "Beginners Guide to Kiteboarding" published by the International Sailing Federation Association (ISAF).

Have we missed a kiteboarding term? Send us a suggestion and exact description to editor [at] surfertoday.com.