Glossary Print


Kiteboarding Dictionary / Kitesurfing Glossary/ Kiteboarding Terminology and Definitions

Click photos for larger images, Click videos to play.



3 - Short for 360

360 - A rotation of 360 degrees.  Generally, this consists of the control bar being passed behind the kiteboarder's back.  However, a less than vertical roll can be called a 360.


Aerial - Existing, happening, or operating in the air. 

Airfoil (Aerofoil) - A shape that provides lift when air moves over it.

Airtime (Hangtime) - The time spent in the air while jumping.

Anemometer - A wind gauge used to measure wind speed.

Average scale - A modest way of describing wave heights.  Measured in: Below average, average, and above average.  It changes based on location.

Agro - A short word for agressive.  As in, "That was so agro dude!"


Back 360 - A 360 in which the kiteboarder initiates the rotation by turning their shoulders upwind, toward their riding direction, and turning their back away from their riding direction.  Their heelside edge is leading the board through the rotation as the kiteboarder turns towards their leading shoulder upwind.

Back Loop (Kiteloop) - 1. Another name for a kite loop, meaning the kite loops away from the board's direction of movement when initiated.  2. A Backroll and a kite loop at the same time.

Back Roll - An inverted (more vertical) back 360, lifting the front of your board off the water first and continuing a spin in that direction.

Backside - When the kiteboarder turns their shoulders downwind, and turns their back towards their direction of movement or riding object, like a slider.  When added to a trick, it means the initiation of their rotation started with their back turning toward their direction of movement.

Bar – The control bar that steers the kite and which the kite lines are attached to.

Batten - A stiff rod of fiberglass or carbon fiber that is used in some parts, of some kites, to provide rigidity or shape where needed.

Beaufort Scale - Measures wind speed in ranges, a 0-10 scale.

  • 0 - Calm 0 knots
  • 1 - Light Air  1-3 knots
  • 2 - Light Breeze 4-6 knots, Foils kites will fly, maybe.
  • 3 - Gentle Breeze 7-10 knots, Foil kites fly better, inflatable kites will fly maybe.
  • 4 - Moderate Breeze 11-16 knots, best conditions for learning inflatable kites
  • 5 -Fresh Breeze 17-21 knots, novice pilots only
  • 6 - Strong Breeze 22-27 knots, intermediate only
  • 7 - Moderate Gale 28-33 knots, advanced only
  • 8 - Fresh Gale 34-40 knots, expert only
  • 9 - Strong Gale 41-47 knots, extreme danger
  • 10 - Whole Gale 48-55 knots, suicidal
  • 11 - Storm 56-63 knots
  • 12 - Hurricane 64+ knots


Bladder - The inflated part of the kite that holds air and that the valves are attached to.

Blasted - When you get pulled very hard by the kite and blasts of water obscure the kiteboarder from onlookers momentarily.

Blind - a term used to describe riding in a direction that does not allow you to see your kiteor where you are going easily.

Board Leash - A leash that connects a kiteboarder to their board and a bad idea.  If you can't drag back to your board you have no business trying to ride it.  Directional dragging back to the board is easy, if you can't do it yet, figure it out then work on riding the board.  Many people have been severely injured when the board leash shot the board back at their body at high speed.  A helmet is not enough protection, what about your face, eyes, and everything else!! 

Body Dragging (Body Surfing) - Allowing the kite to pull you without using a board.

Bow Kite - A kite shape that Bruno and Dominique Legaignoux invented in 2002.  The name is based on the shape of the kite when inflated, which is a bow shape, as in bow and arrow.

Bridle - Lines of the kite that distribute pressure evenly across the canopy.  The bridle lines come together at the pig tails, and the kite lines attach to the pig tails.  Foil kites use many bridle lines, inflatable kites use less.  Shown in the photo on the right as the blue lines attached to the green kite.

Butter (Glass) - Smooth water




Chicken bone - What you call your Donkey Dick when you are in a family or professional situation.  Shown in the Picture on right as the straight, black tube going through, and below the circular loop.

Chicken Loop
- The loop at the end of the depower strap that hooks under your spreader bar hook. Also called a Trim Loop, this loop got its name when 4-line kites were first released, indicating the rider was "chicken" of the kite's full power.  Primarily, it's used to depower the kite while the kite is flying, but it serves several other purposes. It's the circular black loop in photo, above right.

Chord - The width of the kite at it's widest point; usually the center strut length.

Close to the Wind - Near the maximum angle that you can ride into the wind.

Cock Block - When a rider isn't following the right away rules and forces other riders avoid him or her.

Control Bar - The bar that the pilot uses to steer the kite. 




Dacron - Proprietary fabric that is used in the leading edge, struts and wing tips of inflatable kites.

Deadman - An aerial maneuver where the kiteboarder lets go of the bar, swings their feet above their head, and hangs their arms toward the ground.

Depower - To change the pitch angle of the kite so the kite doesn't have as much lift and provides less power.

Directional Board - A kiteboard that is designed to be ridden in one direction. Foot placement must be changed to turn and tack back and forth.

Donkey Dick - The plastic tubing that keeps your chicken loop fixed to your harness hook.

Down Loop -  A kite maneuver in which the kite is tuned down toward the water, then in the opposite direction of the riding direction, and then completed with the kite finishing the loop at its original position.

Downwind - 1. The area that the wind occupies after passing the kiteboarder's perpendicular to the wind direction.  2. The direction the wind is traveling.

- A fun kiteboarding journey, in which the kiteboarder intentionally finishes downwind of their starting point.

Dyneema (Spectra) -A proprietary, light weight, low stretch, synthetic fiber, registered under the trademark of Royal DSM N.V. (The Netherlands).  Generally used for kite lines, chicken loop lines, leader lines, and bridle inserts.




Edge of the (Wind) Window - Shown in Blue in the picture below.  Area of the wind window with the lowest power.





Fifth Line - A 5th line that connects a control bar to a kite.  Generally, kits have four lines.  The fifth line generally connects the center of the leading edge to a special leash system on the control bar, which can make C kites safer and also can make them easier to relaunch.

Fin - A common kiteboard accessory which provides lateral grip and lift.  Fins come in many shapes and sized, and can be constructed from many materials such as: fiberglass, plastic, or carbon fiber.  

Fixed Loop - It is a loop on the control bar which hooks in to the spreader bar of the harness.  The fixed loop allows the kiteboarder to steer the kite while taking the pressure of the kite off of the kiteboarder's arms, however, it offers no depower capability.

Flat 3 -  An aerial 360 where the kiteboarder passes their control bar behind their back, and lands on the same edge of the board they started from.

Flex - Short word for flexible or flexibility

Flying Lines (Fly Lines or Kite Lines) - The lines that connect the leaders lines of the control bar to the pigtails of the kite.  They are between 400-800 lb test lines.

Foil - A type of kite, usually dual-skin, that is held in shape by a bridle with air vents on the leading edge. As the air passes into the kite, the kite fills with air and expands to its full shape.  Much like a flying air mattress, though mattresses would be more comfy than taking a nap on your kite.

Foot Strap - A strap on a kiteboard that holds your feet to the board.

Foot Pad - A cushion on a kiteboard that a kiteboarder stands on while riding.  It's a soft surface on kiteboards used to absorb impact.

Front 360 - An aerial 360 in which the kiteboarder initiates the rotation by turning their shoulders downwind, away from their riding direction, and turning their back towards their riding direction.  The kiteboarder turns their leading shoulder downwind as they release from the water.

Frontside - When the kiteboarder turns their shoulders upwind, and turns their back away from their direction of movement or riding object, like a slider.  When added to a trick, it means the initiation of their rotation started with their back turning away from their direction of movement.




Grab - A jump that includes the kiteboarder grabbing a portion of the board while in the air.

Grab handle - Handle usually mounted in the center of a kiteboard used to carry the board or help put the board on the kiteboarder's feet.

Grommet/Grom - A kiteboarder under the age of 18.  Generally groms have an attitude characterized by their age.

Grunt - The amount of pull generated by a kite when the kite is moving at low speed.



Handle Pass -  Transferring the control bar from one hand to the other  behind your back

Hang Time (Airtime) -  The amount of time you spend in the air

Harness - Is a standard piece of kiteboarding gear used to take the the load or pull of the kite off the arms, if the pilot is hooked into the chicken loop.  See below for various styles.

  • Seat

  • Shorts

  • Waist

  • Vest

Heelside -  1. Edge of a board that runs from tip to tail behind your heels.  2. Riding on the heelside edge of the board.

Hook Knife - A knife in the shape of a hook used in emergency situations such as cutting kite lines.  

Hooked In -  Being attached to the harness loop on the control bar by the harness bar on the harness

- When an inflatable kite stalls, and falls out of the sky leading edge first. 
To relaunch a kite once it's Hindenburged, usually requires extra effort and skill.




IKO - The International Kiteboarding Organization based in Cabrete, Dominican Republic.

Indy -

Inflatable Kite - A kite that gets its shape from inflated struts and an inflated leading edge.




Jellyfishing -  When a kite's wingtips move in and out like a jellyfish.  Usually, a structural design "flaw."

Jibe (Gybe) - Another name for tacking in kiteboarding.  Technically, all tacks in kiteboarding are jibes.



Kite - An device that stays airborne using wind power and has one or more lines attached to it.

Kiteboard - The board used in for kiteboarding.  A device usually strapped to one's feet, or the roof of a car. Experienced device owners can use said kiteboard to boost big air and tricks impressing the women sunning themselves on the beach. Inexperienced kiteboard owners should wear foot protection against inadvertent ankle-stubbing, and beach-butt-chafe.

Kite Leash - Another name for a safety leash.  A secondary attachment running from the control bar to the harness or to the wrist.  Used in self rescue, self landing and emergencies when the safety realease on the chicken loop is pulled.

Kiteloop -  When a kite loops away from the board's direction of movement when initiated, completes an aerial circle, and finishes with the leading edge of the kite pointed where it started.

Kitemare - 1. A scary incident that has occurred during kiteboarding.  2. A scary kiteboarding story where a kiteboarder, could have or did get injured or killed, while kiteboarding. 



Landboard (Mountainboard) - An off-road skateboard that snowboarders originally used to ride down hills without snow.  Kiteboarders use it to ride on any hard, flat surface.

Lark's Head - The knot used to connect the kite lines to the pig tails of the kite.  This knot has many names; in this case, it's named because one could say the shape of the knot resembles the head shape of the bird, the lark.

Leading Edge - The front edge of a kite. The part of a kite that the wind touches first. On inflatable kites, this edge is defined by a large inflatable tube. For foil kites, there is usually a series of vents or openings defining this edge.

Leader Lines - The thicker lines that connect the control bar to the kite lines.  Usually made of a thicker Dyneema than the kite lines.

Leak - A hole in a kite bladder.

Leeward - The downwind side.

Lift - A metric used to describe how efficient a kite is in getting you into the air and keeping you there.

Linking - A kiteboarders or kitesurfers ability to land and/or perform a trick or move and immediately initiate and second trick (heaven-forbid a third or your get'n nasty!!) 

Lit - Short for "lit on fire."  At the edge of comprehensible control.

Lofted - When a kite lifts you off the ground unexpectedly.








Neutral Edge - Not edging upwind and not edging downwind.  Riding perpendicular to the wind. 

Nose Bone -




Off Shore - 1. A location in a body of water, not attached to land.  2. The wind direction when the wind is blowing away from shore in any direction.  3. The wind direction when the wind is blowing away from the shore at a 90 degree angle to the shoreline.

Ollie -

On Shore - 1. A location on land
.  2. The wind direction when the wind is blowing toward shore in any direction.  3. The wind direction when the wind is blowing toward shore at a 90 degree angle to the shoreline.




PKRA - Professional Kiteboard Riders Association.  One of the major, international, competitive kiteboarding tours for the different disciplines of kiteboarding, such as freestyle, wave riding, boardercross, hang time and more

Pig Tail -  A short line extension that can be attached to the kite, or the end of the fly line.

Planing - When a board or object partially rises out of the water and glides along the surface of the water.

Port - 1. A small, circular window.  2. To the left.  3. The left side of a nautical vessel if you are facing forward (the color defining port is red).  For kitesurfing, this is left-hand-forward riding. Left-hand-forward kitesurfers do not have right of way over starboard riders or vessels. Right does not mean red, guys!

- A move made with the kite in order to generate more power or pull from the kite.  The kite is steered down and/or up, remaining on the same side of the wind window.  The length and angle of a power stroke can be varied to create more or less power.  The strongest power strokes are created when the kite is steered straight up and straight down.

Power Zone - The relative area of the wind window that provides power to the kite.  The area of the wind window other than the neutral zone.

Pressure Gauge - A device to measure pressure in a contained space.  Some kite pumps can have attached pressure gauges for the kiteboarders to know how much pressure is in each of thier kite bladders as they pump.

Profile -

Projected Area -

Pump Leash -  A line attached to a kite pump, which can be hooked to a kite during inflation to secure the kite so it wont blow away while its being inflated.

Pull the Trigger -  a phrase used to describe steering the kite aggressively, usually to initiate a jump with the kite.

Pump - 1. To inject.  2. A device used to insert air, or another medium, into an object.  3. A powerstroke with the kite.  4. An exercise kitesurfers ritually perform to "warm up" prior to getting wet.




Quad - 1. Four of something, generally referring to a surfboard that has four fins.

Quick Release -  A mechanism designed to detach or separate a rider from his equipment as quickly and easily as possible.  Quick releases are usually built into kite control bars at the harness loop, at the kite leash, and sometimes on the kite harness.



Rail - 1. he edge of a board.  2. Narrow obstacle designed to be slid across, resembling a hand rail along a stairway or walkway

Railey (Raley) - An aerial maneuver in which the rider extends his body horizontally in mid air, traveling head first with his feet behind.  The riders feet are at a height even with, or slightly above head height.

ReDonkulous - A ridiculous with a donkey in the middle.  Often used to describe over built things, over sized, huge air, etc. . .

Right of Way
- The system defined to maintain order and prevent chaos out there!  Right-hand-forward riders typically have right of way rights. All other riders and vessels should yield. But don't expect some weekender with a cooler of beer in his cigarette boat to know this. Steer clear of Crockett and Tubbs, and any other dangers.

Roast Beef (Grab) -

Roll - An inverted, aerial maneuver in which the rider's board is at least as high as his head during the rotation.

Rocker - The curvature of a kiteboard running from nose to tail, describing the height of the nose and tail in relation to the center of the kiteboard when the kiteboard is laying flat on the ground.  Rockers can be continuous or constant, meaning the nose and tail are equally higher than the center of the board. The curvature is modeled after a portion of the circumference of a single circle (arc), or multi-stage in which the curvature is greater in some areas and less in others, meaning multiple arcs were used in the shaping of the kiteboard.  In the picture to the right the front kiteboard has little or no rocker, while the rear white kiteboard has noticably more rocker.

Rollers - Large waves out to sea that do not form an apex and crash. Nice for popping airs in the open water.



Self Rescue - A self rescue is any procedure that gets the rider from a position of flying a powered kite at the control bar, to a position where the rider’s kite is disabled, the rider is out of the water, and safe from kiteboarding related harm.

Send (Sent) the Kite - Changing the kite's direction abruptly to generate a sudden rise in power to boost big.  Example: "I sent it back hard, and the next thing I knew, I was superman!"

Surge -  

Shackle -

Sheeting Strap (Trim Strap) -  Used to adjust the power of the kite.


Sheeting In - When referring to the Trim Strap or Sheeting Strap, this refers to depowering the kite.  When referring to the control bar, this refers to pulling the bar in and maximizing the power of the kite.  See video below.


Sheeting Out - When referring to the Trim Strap or Sheeting Strap, this refers to maximizing the power of the kite.  When referring to the control bar, this refers to pushing the bar away and depowering the kite.  See video above.

Side Shore -  The wind direction when the wind is blowing at an angle parallel to the shoreline.

Side On Shore (Side On) - A wind direction blowing on shore at an angle other than 90 degrees to the shoreline

Side Off Shore (Side Off) - The wind direction when the wind is blowing off shore at a 45 degree angle to the shoreline

Sine the Kite - A technique used to generate apparent wind at the kite to deliver more grunt. To sine the kite, the rider steers the kite up and down as he rides to trace a mathematical "sine" wave through the air.  Example: "Today wasn't fun, I had to sine the kite all day."

Skunked - 1. Being sprayed by a skunk, resulting in a lonely immediate future.  2. Showing up at the beach to see flags hugging poles.  Example: "Everytime he shows up, we get skunked!"

Slogging -  a term used to describe sub-planing riding which happens when the power in the kite is not sufficient to get your     board up on top of the water.  Originally a windsurfing term.

SnowKiting -  Kiting across snow covered terrain.  Snowkiters may ride skis, snowboards, or any other snow-riding apparatus.

Span -

Spectra - Very similar to dyneema, high strength low weight line.  Susceptable to UV degradation.


Spin - A move in which the rider rotates but does not pass the control bar behind their back.  Can be initiated from heelside or toeside.

Spinout -

- Lines that are so tangled up they resemble spaghetti. 


Spreader Bar - The stainless steel hook on the front of a kiteboarding harness used to attach the chicken loop to the harness.


Stall -  A phenomenon in which your kite loses lift, and may even fall backwards out of the sky.  A stall is caused by a lack of airflow through the canopy of the kite.  It's frequently caused by too much back line tension in relation to the strength of the wind, not allowing air to pass through the canopy and spill out the trailing edge of the kite.

Starboard - A nautical term indicating the right of a vessel. Right-hand-forward riders are riding starboard in kitesuring and usually have the right of way. Riders should always be alert and give up right-of-way in the pursuit of safety.

Static Loop - Same as fixed loop. 



Stopper Ball - 1.  A small ball with a hole in the middle often used in the rigging on control bars.  See photo right. 



2.  A device that prevents the kite from de-powering, even when the kiteboarder's hands are not on the bar.  See video below.


Straight Off Shore - The wind direction when the wind is blowing away from the shore at a 90 degree angle to the shoreline.

Straight On Shore - The wind direction when the wind is blowing toward shore at a 90 degree angle to the shoreline.

Strut - An inflated batten used to give an inflatable kite part of it's shape.  Shown inflated in photo on right.


Surface 360 - A 360 rotation with out leaving the water or jumping.




TableTop - Being inverted under the kite in the air and straightening your body with the bottom of the board making the top of a table.

Tacking - To ride in a zig-zag pattern upwind at 45 degree angles.

Tea Bagged - When a rider is flopping behind his kite face-down, being pulled without control and trying to recover. It looks like a tea-bag.

Thermal -

Thruster - A three fin configuration at the back of a directional board.  The configuration forms a triangle with a central back fin and to forward rail fins.

Toeside -

Trailing Edge - The rear, or back of the kite.

True wind -

Twin Tip -




Unhooked -  Being detached from the harness loop on the control bar of the kite.

Upwind -  1) a term used to describe a location.  The location is a distance away, in the direction the wind is coming from.  2) a direction of travel; in the direction the wind is coming from.




Valve -




Wakestyle -

Walk of Shame - The unfortunately long distance you must walk to get back to your stuff when still learning to stay upwind. Depending on rider, train or plane rides may be required.

Wind - Air in motion moving around you. A kitesurfer needs typically 8-10 kts of wind to kitesurf.

Wind Meter -

Wind Range -

Windward -

Windmill - When your kitelines get tangled on the kite, or the bar, or some object (another kite) and begins spinning out of control while powered up. You don't want to personally experience this.

Wind Window - The 1/4 sphere that defines the useable wind from a rider's perspective. This window can be determined by standing with your back to the wind and extending your arms outward. The window is defined by the space forward of your arms and straight above you.

Wrist Leash - A version of the safety leash that attaches to your wrist instead of your harness.








Yard Sale -




Zenith - 1. The highest point in the sky directly overhead; Twelve O'clock.  2. The highest point reached during a jump.


©Copyright 2008

How To Kiteboard™