Glossary of windsurfing: the windsurfers' vocabulary 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 get 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 - the 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 backward 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 starting 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 forward off the board by the sail;

Carve Gybe - high wind planing gybe;

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

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

Centerline - imaginary line going through the center 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 - the rear (lower) corner of the 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 - the fitting in the board into which the 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 than 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 the rig too much instead of where you are going;

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

Groundswell - swell in the sea which has traveled a long distance;

Gust - a short and temporary blast of wind;

Gybe/Jibe - 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 the 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 - the international standard for measuring the stiffness of the mast;

Induced Wind - wind created by forward movement of the 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 the sail to power the board forward;

Luff Tube - tube in the leading edge of the sail into which the 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 the phase of the Moon;

No-Go Zone - an area approximately 45° to 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 onto the shore/land;

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

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

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

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

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

Port Tack - a nautical term used to describe the direction in which we are sailing - the 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 the 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 - the specific movement of the rig in gybes;

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

Rule of Twelves - rule relating to variation in water flow as the tide rises and 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 the 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 - when the board slides sideways after the loss of grip;

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

Stance - body position while sailing;

Starboard Tack - a nautical term used to describe the direction in which we are sailing - the 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 - the back of the board;

Tidal Range - vertical movement of water;

Tidal Stream - the movement of water parallel to the coastline;

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

Trade Winds - prevailing winds in the tropics close to the equator;

Transit - position judged by lining up two objects;

Transitions - tacking and gybing;

True Wind - prevailing wind when standing still;

Tuning - adjustment of the rig to find the 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 the direction and strength of the 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 with the exact description to editor [at]

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