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Kiteboarding Lingo

Say What?!

  • Air time: the amount of time spent in the air while jumping. This can be remarkably long; the record is Jesse Richman's 22 second long jump. Five to ten seconds is not unusual.
  • Apparent wind: the kite's speed relative to the surrounding air. When kitesurfing in a straight line, the kite's apparent wind is a combination of the wind speed and the speed of the kite and rider over the surface, but since the kite is highly steerable apparent wind can vary widely depending on how the kite is being flown. Most ways of increasing power from the kite involve giving it a higher apparent wind somehow, i.e. diving the kite, riding faster, or riding at a greater angle into the wind. Any of these raises the kite's apparent wind speed.
  • Big Air: doing a very high jump utilizing the lift of the kite. The jump is often assisted in its initial stage by the rider being catapulted off the lip of a wave.
  • Body dragging: being pulled through the water without standing on a board. This is an early step in the learning process, and is recommended before trying the board after flying a trainer kite.
  • Boost: to jump huge.
  • Chicken loop: a hard rubber loop attached to the middle line which has been fed through the control bar. It is used to attach the control bar to the harness so the kitesurfer can produce tension in the lines using their entire bodyweight instead of using purely arm strength.
  • Chicken bone/chicken finger/donkey dick/keeper: a hard rubber "tongue" attached to the chicken loop which the rider feeds through the spreader bar hook to prevent the rider from becoming "unhooked".
  • De-power: to reduce the kite's power (pull), generally by adjusting the angle of attack of the kite. Most kites and control bars now allow a rider to rig a kite for a number of different power levels before launching, in addition to powering the kite up and down "on the fly" by moving the bar up and down. Depowerability makes a kite safer and easier to handle. Some new kite models, especially "bow" kites, can be de-powered to practically zero power, giving them an enormous wind range.
  • DP: dawn patrol; a very early morning session.
  • downwind: the direction the wind is blowing towards; to leeward. When a rider is facing downwind the wind is at their back.
  • Downwinder: a kitesurfing "trip" (could actually be as short as a few minutes) where the rider starts at one point and ends up at another point downwind of their original position. The Hainey Dowwinder is done without preperation or palanned transporation at the end. This requires sweet talking beachgoers or finding some change for a bus to take you back to point-a. 
  • Edge: tilting the board with its edge into the water. Used to control the direction of travel. Learning to edge properly is critical for learning to tack upwind. Edging is one of the fundamental skills of kitesurfing and is one of the ways kitesurfing is different from windsurfing or wakeboarding. While windsurf boards have daggerboards and/or skegs to steer the board upwind while lift and planing is provided by the board itself, generally kiteboards actually combine both functions and the bottom of the board lifts the rider and steers simultaneously.
  • Fins are generally much smaller and are for keeping the board in the water (see "tea-bagging"), but are not essential. Because kite boards have a small rocker, a deep edge can allow the board to act as a large low drag fin. Edging in wakeboarding is used for steering the board; whereas in kite boarding not only does edging steer the kite board, it is essential for kite control and controlling board speed. Riding downwind towards the kite subtracts massively from the kite's power and helps control board speed as well.
  • Freeride: kiteboarding style. Plain kiteboarding that does not involve tricks or jumping. The main goal is keeping a good edge and ability to traverse upwind. This would normally require a board with little rocker.
  • Freestyle: kiteboarding style. Freestyle involves tricks (or combinations of tricks) where the rider is jumping off the water and experiencing enhanced elevation using lift generated from the kite. Freestyle is, weather-wise, a multi-condition concept and is to some degree equipment-specific. "Big air" is commonly associated with freestyle.
  • Goofy: the foot position of the rider, with the right foot leading.
  • Guinea pig a person who goes out to test if the wind is rideable or not. If it is, others start riding too. Also known as a Wind-dummy.
  • Heel side: the side of a board on the edge where a rider's heels are (opposite of toe side). "Riding heel side" is riding with heels down.
  • Hindenburg: (a reference to the Hindenburg Airship disaster of 1937) a kite stalling and then crashing. Hindenburging can be caused either by lack of wind or by the kite advancing to a position upwind of the kitesurfer in the wind window, also called "overflying the kite".
  • Handlepass: while unhooked, passing the control bar behind a riders back while in the air.
  • Hot Launch: recovering and launching the kite from a position deep inside the wind window so the kite is immediately under maximum power (potentially dangerous).
  • Kiteloop: is a powered group of tricks where a rider loops the kite through the power zone.
  • Kitemare: a kiteboardsurfing accident or dangerous mishap. Kitemares can be deadly.
  • Launch: getting the kite in the air. The kite may be launched assisted or unassisted. An assisted launch is generally safer than an unassisted launch.
  • Lofted: to get lifted vertically into the air by the kite due to a strong gust of wind. A very dangerous occurrence that has resulted in several fatalities when kiters on or near land have been dragged into obstacles. Can be avoided by minimizing time on land with the kite flying directly overhead, and by not kiting in overpowered situations.
  • Luff : when the air flow stalls around the kite. It may then stall and fall out of the sky. Like sails, a luffing kite has 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: this term has two meanings: either a class of wakestyle tricks involving an invert with a 360-degree spin or a specific trick involving a back roll with a frontside 360 handlepass (while keeping the kite below 45 degrees). The former meaning stems from the latter, which was the first type of mobe to ever be landed. Other types of mobes include: mobe 540, mobe 720, slim chance, KGB, crow mobe, moby dick, Pete Rose, blind pete, crow mobe 540, etc.
  • Nuking: wind blowing at great speeds (30-40 knots). These conditions are very extreme and dangerous for most riders.
  • Offshore: wind blowing at the water from the shore. Never ride in offshore winds without some means of recovery, i.e. a chase boat. This is somewhat less important in smaller bodies of water, of course.
  • Onshore: wind blowing perpendicular to and directly at the shore from the water. A challenging condition for beginners, especially if waves are present.
  • Dookie Dive: loss of power during air time resulting in a crash into the water.
  • O-Shit Loop: two loops on either ends of the bar that are attached to the kite lines and run through rings attached to the bar. A standard leash attachment point.
  • Overhead waves: waves two or more meters (6 ft) from trough to crest;
  • Overpowered: the condition of having too much power from the kite. Can be a result of an increase in wind, incorrect kite choice (too large for the conditions), incorrect adjustment, simply going too fast, etc. Interestingly, experienced riders who are overpowered can switch to a smaller board to compensate, to a degree, although it's common to have just one board.
  • Pop: height gained above the water using only the board and tension in the lines to get lift, with the kite usually positioned at 45 degrees. Lower kite angles are possible for more experienced riders. Used as a basis for many tricks and regarded as an essential skill for progressing.
  • Port the left side of a ship, as perceived by a person on board facing the bow (front).
  • 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 lift (pull), this is generally between 0 to 60 degrees arc from the center of the downwind direction.
  • Re-Launch: a general term for getting the kite back up in the air after crashing it (on land or water). A relaunch is unassisted and requires the rider to follow a kite-specific procedure (check the manual). As years of development have gone by, the more recent kites are easier to relaunch.
  • Send it: to move the kite aggressively up through the power zone.
  • Schlogging: this is riding extremely underpowered. A rider has no power to plane and definitely not enough to jump. A rider and their board bounce from planing on the surface to being dragged in the water.
  • SLE: Supported Leading Edge. A C shaped kite with an inflatable leading edge, currently the most advanced kite design available allowing massive de-power.
  • Side offshore: wind blowing between sideshore and at a 45-degree angle away from the shore.
  • Side onshore: wind blowing between sideshore and at a 45-degree angle towards the shore.
  • side shore: winds blowing parallel to the shore. Usually the most desirable direction for kitesurfing.
  • 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.
  • Starboard the right side of a vessel as perceived by a person on board facing the bow (front).
  • Stomp: to successfully perform a trick.
  • Tack: the direction which is being sailed, normally either starboard tack or port tack. In a starboard tack the wind is coming in from the rider's starboard (right-hand) side, similar to sailing a boat. In normal riding, the kitesurfer takes a heading which is as close to into the wind as possible, and in any event leads at some angle slightly upwind, sometimes as much as 45 degrees; jumping or wave riding usually results in traveling downwind, so the net result is to maintain relative position. Alternatively, see "downwinder".
  • Tea-bagging: popping out of and falling back into the water intermittently due to light or gusty wind, poor flying skills, twisted lines etc.
  • Toe side: the side of a board on the edge where a riders toes are (opposite of heel side). "Riding toe side" is riding with toes down.
  • Underpowered: the condition of having insufficient power from the kite. Can be a result of insufficient wind, choosing a kite that is too small for the wind, rigging incorrectly, board too small, water current in the same direction as the wind, not riding fast enough, etc. A rider who is continuously diving the kite and sending it back up in a sine-wave pattern is usually underpowered.
  • Unhooked is when a kitesurfer is riding while the chicken loop is not attached to the rider's harness.
  • 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.
  • Wakestyle: A style of kiteboarding in which the rider usually uses wakeboarding (or kiteboarding) "boots" for their kiteboard (as opposed to straps and pads), ensuring their feet remain firmly attached at all times (hense the term "Wakestyle"). This style is also associated with performing powered tricks with the kite as low to the water as possible (something generally perceived by kiteboarders to be more difficult and stylish).
  • Walk of Shame is the act of walking back upwind to the location where the kite was originally launched.
  • Wind-dummy a person who goes out to test if the wind is rideable or not. If it is, others start riding too. Also known as a Guinea pig.
  • Wind window is the 120- to 180-degree arc of the sky downwind of the rider in which the kite can be flown. Roughly one fourth of a sphere's surface. If the rider is facing downwind on a flat surface, like the ocean, the wind window consists of roughly all the area the rider can see, from the rider's peripheral vision on one side, along the horizon to the other side, and then directly overhead back to the first side. If the rider somehow puts the kite out of the window—for example, by riding downwind very quickly and sending the kite directly overhead and behind—the kite will stall and frequently fall out of the sky.
  • Zenith the location in the wind window directly over the kiter's head. This is the neutral position where kitesurfers can place the kite to stop moving or prior to movement. This places the kite in a more vulnerable to "Hindenburgs" position than any other.