Kitesurfing has a lot of specific terms to describe gear and aspects of the sport. Some that are particularly relevant to be newcomers are listed here.


  • APPARENT WIND: the kite's speed relative to the surrounding air. When you turn or dive the kite fast you increase the apparent wind and therefore the power produced by the kite.


  • BODY DRAGGING: using the kite to pull you through the water without a board. This is an early step in the learning process, and is recommended before trying the board.

  • BOOST: to suddenly become airborne


  • CHICKEN-LOOP: a hard plastic loop attached to the end of the middle lines below the control bar. Used to attach the control bar to the harness so the kitesurfer can produce tension in the lines using their entire bodyweight rather then relying on arm strength.


  • DE-POWER: to reduce the kite's power, generally by adjusting the angle of attack of the kite. Achieved by either pushing out the bar or releasing your safety to transfer tension from the back lines to the front lines.

  • DE-POWER CONTROL: mechanism for partially de-powering the kite. Can be located above or below the control bar. Knowing how to use this increases your safety.

  • DEATH LOOP: a kite looping out of control that can pull you hard through the water, usually caused by lines and/or bridle tangle. No control of the kite is possible. Its best to release the kite completely if you can't regain control rapidly.

  • DONKEY DICK: Short length of stiff plastic that you thread through the chicken loop and the harness hook to prevent the kite unhooking from your harness.

  • DOWNWIND: the direction the wind is blowing towards; to leeward. When you are facing downwind the wind is at your back.

  • DOWNWINDER: a kitesurfing tour where you travel downwind of your original position. This allows you to focus on technique, or just cruise and have a look around. Use a car shuffle or a bus/train to travel back to your starting point.


  • EDGE: tilting the board with its edge into the water. This is a fundamental skill important for controlling your direction of travel and for staying upwind. The entire edge of the board acts as a keel. Surfboards and windsurf boards use fins for this.


  • HEELSIDE: the side of a board on the edge where your heels are. "Riding heelside" with your heels down is the normal and most comfortable riding position.

  • HANDLEPASS: while unhooked, passing the control bar behind your back while in the air (advanced skill)


  • KITELOOP: a 360 degree rotation of the kite that generates big power. Not for beginners.

  • KITEMARE: a kiteboardsurfing accident or dangerous mishap.


  • LOFTED: to get lifted vertically into the air by the kite by a strong gust of wind. This is a very dangerous occurrence that has resulted in several fatalities when kiters on or near land have been dragged into obstacles. Avoid by minimizing time on land with your kite flying directly overhead, and by not kiting in overpowered situations.

  • LUFF: when the air flow stalls around the kite - which happens if you fly the kite to the far edge of the wind window. It may then stall and fall out of the sky. Like sails, a luffing kite will have rippling and flapping panels. When launching the kite, if the kite is luffing, the rider should move farther upwind, or the person holding the kite should move downwind.


  • MOBE: A back loop with a handlepass in the middle, while keeping the kite below 45 degrees.


  • NUKING: wind blowing at great speeds(30-40kts). These conditions are very extreme and dangerous for most riders.

  • NEWBIE: newcomer to the sport


  • OFFSHORE: wind blowing at the water from the shore. Never ride in offshore winds without some means of support, i.e. a boat, or you are on a lake or estuary.

  • ONSHORE: wind blowing directly at the shore from the water. A challenging condition for beginners, especially if waves are present.

  • OVERPOWERED: when you have too much power from the kite to handle safely. Can be caused by an increase in wind, a kite too large for the conditions, incorrect depower adjustment.


  • POWER UP: when the kite's power increases (suddenly), because of wind gusts or the kite's movement.

  • POWER ZONE: is the area in the sky where the kite generates the most power. This is region within the wind window between 0 to 60 degrees arc from the center of the downwind direction.


  • RIDING BLIND: riding backwards


  • SAFETY LEASH: (sometimes also called a "bypass leash" or a "handlepass leash") is used to keep you connected to the kite when you deploy your main safety release or you let go of the control bar while riding unhooked.

  • SEND IT: To move the kite aggressively up through the power zone.

  • SIDE SHORE: Winds blowing parallel to the shore; good for kitesurfing.

  • SIDE ONSHORE: wind blowing between sideshore and onshore, with an angle towards the shore; best for kitesurfing. Also referred to as CROSS SHORE.

  • SINE- WAVE PATTERN: the trace made by a kite flying alternately high and low. Used to generate more power in underpowered conditions.

  • SPREADER BAR: A stainless steel bar that attaches to the rider's harness. It has a hook that holds the"chicken loop" when riding hooked in.


  • TAILGRABS: grab the back of the board

  • TACK: The direction which is being sailed, normally either starboard tack (right shoulder forward) or port tack (left shoulder forward). As per sailing.

  • TEA-BAGGING: getting lifted out of and falling back into the water intermittently due to light or gusty wind, poor flying skills, etc.

  • TOE SIDE: the side of a board on the edge where your toes are (opposite of heel side). "Riding toe side" is riding with your toes down.


  • UNDERPOWERED: having insufficient power from your kite, usually due to insufficient wind, or choosing a kite that is too small for the wind strength. Can also be caused by a small board or a water current in the same direction as the wind.

  • UNHOOKED: a kitesurfer is riding while the chicken loop is not attached to the rider's harness. Generally not a good experience for a beginner.

  • UPWIND: the direction from which the wind is blowing; windward; into the wind.


  • VAS CONDITIONS: Victory at Sea; very rough sea conditions, generally with overhead wind waves causing severe shore break.


  • WIND WINDOW: the three dimensional region of sky downwind of the rider in which the kite can be flown. When facing downwind, the wind window is roughly all the area the you can see. A kite flown out of the window will stall and is likely to fall out of the sky.


  • ZENITH: the location in the wind window directly over the kiter's head. This is a neutral position where you can place the kite to stop moving or prior to movement. Avoid this kite position on the beach or in overpowered conditions.

External links