Glossary of Windsurfing: the vocabulary of windsurfer is rich | Photo: NeilPryde

The world of windsurfing has a wide range of technical terms, concepts and definitions.

The windsurfing glossary helps all levels of windsurfers getting a standard language for the sport. Discover the vocabulary of windsurfing and learn new words:

Across Wind - at 90° to the wind direction;

Apparent Wind - combination of true wind and induced wind;

Back Loop - a windsurf trick in which the sailor launches the windsurf board off the wave lip and rotates backwards to land and sail away;

Balance Point - the point where the sail is drawn across the board and feels light;

Battens - stiff, flexible rods providing strength and shape to a sail;

Beach Start - a technique for start sailing away in low water levels, close to the beach;

Beam Reach - a direction approximately 90° away from the direction of the wind;

Bear Away - to steer the board away from where the wind is coming from;

Beaufort Scale - an international scale of wind speed described in numerical forces from 0 (calm) to 12 (a hurricane);

Blasting - moving quickly across the water;

Boom - the "handlebars" of a windsurfer;

Boom Head - the part of the boom where the mast is attached;

Booties - shoes designed especially for water activities;

Broad Reach - a direction approximately 135° away from the direction of the wind;

Buoyancy Aid - foam-filled jacket providing positive buoyancy when immersed;

Butterfly Rescue - a form of rescue where the sail is laid on the back of the board and the sailor paddles;

Buys Ballot's Law - a way to determine positions of high and low pressure systems;

Catapulted - being propelled forwards off the board by the sail;

Carve Gybe - high wind planing gybe;

Centre of Effort - a central point on the sail from where the drive comes from;

Centre of Lateral Resistance - a combination of the fin, dagger board and wetted area of the board that creates directional stability and resists sideways movement;

Centreline - imaginary line going through the centre of the board from nose to tail;

Cleat - a metal or plastic device with teeth located in the mast foot or boom end to prevent a line from slipping;

Clew - rear (lower) corner of sail, which attaches to the end of the boom;

Close Hauled - a direction approximately 45° away from the direction of the wind;

Counter Balance - to oppose the weight of the rig with our body - rig goes one way, body the other;

Cross-Shore - when the wind direction blows directly across the shore/land;

Daggerboard - large flat retractable plate providing the board with sideways resistance;

Deck Plate - fitting in board into which mast foot is secured;

Deck - top of the board;

Downhaul - a rope used to attach the tack of the sail to the mast foot;

Downwind - in a position further away from the wind then you are;

Duck Gybe - carve gybe achieved by "ducking" the sail;

Eye of the Wind - the exact direction of the true wind, that is twelve o'clock;

Fin - curved foil attached to underside and tail of board providing directional stability;

Flagging - a downwind rescue, the sailor, board and rig drift with the wind;

Gear Gazing - Looking at rig too much instead of where you are going;

Goal Point - a point chosen to aim for when sailing;

Groundswell - swell in sea which has travelled a long distance;

Gust - a short and temporary blast of wind;

Gybe - a turn that takes the nose of the board away from the wind;

Harness Lines - lines linking harness to rig;

Harness - equipment to attach the body to the rig;

Head Up - to steer the board closer to where the wind is coming from;

Hooking In - attaching harness to harness lines;

Horizontal Tide - the parallel or sideways motion of the tide along the coastline;

Hull - bottom of the board;

IMCS - Indexed Mast Curve System - international standard for measuring stiffness of mast;

Induced Wind - wind created by forward movement of board;

Isobars - lines of equal atmospheric pressure on weather maps;

Jury Rig - temporary repair to rig enabling self-rescue;

Knots - nautical miles per hour;

Laminar Flow - smooth airflow across sail providing lift;

Laydown Gybe: gybing tightly by "laying" the rig lower on the water;

Leech - trailing edge of sail;

Leeward - a place or side of a board/craft that is away or sheltered from the wind;

Lift - force acting on sail to power the board forward;

Luff Tube - tube in leading edge of sail into which mast is fitted;

Luffing - altering course towards wind;

Mast Extension - an adjustable version of a mast foot;

Mast Track - a recess on the top of the board to attach the rig;

Mast - long tapered pole used to hold the sail up;

mast foot - an attachment joining the board and rig together;

Miles Per Hour - a measurement of speed;

Neap Tide - smaller tide range caused by phase of Moon;

No-Go Zone - an area approximately 45° either side of the wind direction into which it is not possible to sail or windsurf;

Nose Over Toes - stance keeping head above feet;

Nose - front of the board;

NPCG - non-planing carve gybe;

Offshore - when the wind direction blows directly off the shore/land;

Onshore - when the wind direction blows directly on to the shore/land;

Outhaul Rope - used to attach clew of the sail to end of boom;

Outhaul - a rope used to attach the clew of the sail to the end of the boom;

Overfalls - inconsistencies and obstructions on seabed causing tidal flow to be uplifted;

Overpowered - when the sail that is too large for the actual wind conditions;

Planing - where board reaches sufficient speed to travel on the minimal of wetted area or surface of water;

Port Tack - a nautical term used to describe the direction to which we are sailing - left side of our body is furthest forward on the board/craft;

Port - a nautical term - the direction to the left of somebody facing the front of a board/craft;

Rail - edge of board;

Rash Vest - a T-shirt like garment worn either on its own or under a wetsuit to provide protection;

Rig - sail, mast and boom assembly;

Rig Rotator - specific movement of the rig in gybes;

Rotational Sails - sails where battens provide aerofoil shape by being set (rotating) around mast;

Rule of Twelves - rule relating to variation in water flow as tide rises/falls;

Run - a direction approximately 180° away from the direction of the wind;

Sail Quiver - set of different-sized sails;

Sail - the 'engine' of the windsurfer - delivering power to the windsurfer;

Sailing Position - the position we adopt to go windsurfing;

Sea-Breeze - thermal wind generated by temperature difference between land and sea;

Secure Position - a stationary positioning of the board where the sail has no power and the board is directly across the wind;

Sheeting In - pulling the boom in, back and down;

Shifting and Switching - specific footwork movement during a transition;

Spinning Out - board slides sideways after loss of grip;

Spring Tide - larger tide range caused by phase of Moon;

Stance - body position while sailing;

Starboard Tack - a nautical term used to describe the direction to which we are sailing - right side of the body is furthest forward on the board/craft;

Starboard - a nautical term - the direction to the right of somebody facing the front of a board/craft;

Steer - to turn upwind or downwind;

Survival Gybe: gybe used in strong winds using an upwind approach;

Tack - a turn that takes the nose of the board through the wind;

Tail - back of the board;

Tidal Range - vertical movement of water;

Tidal Stream - movement of water parallel to coastline;

Towing Eye - a small hole in the nose of the board used to attached a rope to enable towing;

Trade Winds - prevailing winds in tropics close to equator;

Transit - position judged by lining up two objects;

Transitions - tacking and gybing;

True Wind - prevailing wind when standing still;

Tuning - adjustment of rig to find most efficient set-up;

Turbulent Flow - disturbed airflow over sail;

Turtle Rescue - a form of rescue where the sailor detaches the sail, lays it on the board, climbs inside it and paddles;

Twin-Cam Sails - sails with larger luff tubes accommodating device to hold the batten against the mast;

Universal Joint (UJ) - part of mast foot, allowing flexible movement of the rig;

Uphaul - combined rope and elastic attached to the boom enabling the rig to be pulled out of the water;

Upwind - in a position closer to the wind than you;

Vertical Tide - the effect of tidal rise or fall on the land;

Windswell - wave formation and height caused by direction and strength of wind;

Windward - a place or side of a board/craft that is closer to the wind;

The glossary of windsurfing is available in the books "RYA Start Windsurfing" and "RYA Intermediate Windsurfing" published by the Royal Yachting Association.

Have we missed a windsurfing term? Send us a suggestion and exact description to editor [at]

Surf forecasting is the process or method of predicting the behavior of swells and the breaking of the waves near the coastline.

+ Surfing News

Origami is the ancient art of paper folding. Kites were probably invented in China around 500 BC. Let's blend both crafts and make a simple, high-flying Origami kite.

+ Kiteboarding News

On November 26, 2018, the World Surf League (WSL) suspended the iconic Peahi Challenge, in Maui. Why? There was too much wind, and the conditions were too gnarly for big wave surfing.

+ Windsurfing News