Kitesurfing terminology: how to talk like a kitesurfer

Even if kitesurfing is a relatively new sport, it has already developed its own form of language.

Therefore, we thought it would be great to sum the most common words into six categories, each representing a specific topic. Starting from the most important words when teaching/learning, to the most common phrases you will hear at the beach.

  1. Teaching
  2. Equipment
  3. Tricks names
  4. Wind & water
  5. Techniques
  6. Kitesurf beach slang

If you have never tried kitesurfing but are willing to, make sure you familiarize yourself with the terminology before you start your course. You will see that learning will be much easier. No matter your level, this list will help you to know kitesurf better.

Below you will find a selection of commonly used kitesurf lingo and their definitions.


Wind Window: The air space in which the kite flies, shaped like a quarter of a sphere.

Body dragging: Can be up-wind and down-wind, is being pulled through the water, usually on a belly, without standing on a board.

De-power: The ability to reduce the kite’s power or pull.

Under powered: The condition of having insufficient power from the kite.

Power zone: The area in the sky where the kite generates the most pull, straight downwind of the kiter.

Zenith: The highest point in the sky directly overhead.

Re-launch: To start the kite flying again.

Water start: is the critical skill to learn when you have mastered controlling your kite and body dragging. It is the move that gets you out of the water.

1,2,3… o’clock:  The position of the kite in the sky.

Safety system: Allows you to deactivate the kite at any moment. When things go wrong, the kitesurfers activate a safety release system that detaches themselves from the kite.

Quick release: Safety system that allows the rider to release from the kite or the leash.

First release: Quick release on the chicken loop.

Final release: Quick release on the leash.

Self-Rescue: A technique by which a rider with a downed kite manipulates the kite in the water to assist in swimming back to shore.


Chicken loop: Loop that connects the rider to the harness hook on a bar control system.

Chicken finger/ donkey dick: Hard rubber “tongue” attached to the chicken loop which the rider feeds through the spreader bar hook to prevent the rider from becoming “unhooked”.

Kite Canopy: The material surface of the kite.

Harness: A “belt” that kiteboarder wears around the waist, with a hook. It connects the rider to the kite control system.

De-power: To reduce the kite’s power (pull), generally by adjusting the trim line.

Bladder: An inflatable inner tube in a kite used to give the kite shape and flotation.

Strut: Part that keeps the profile of the inflatable kite.

Leading edge: Front of the kite where the air flows through first.

LEI, leading edge inflatable: An inflatable kite where the leading edge of the kite has an inflated bladder.

Trailing edge: Rear edge of the kite.

Wing tip: Each edge of the kite.

Trim line or de-power line: Can be adjusted to either give the kite more or less power, depending on how you set it.  It’s located near the bar and is always within reach when you are riding.

Twin Tip Board: Common type of symmetrical kiteboard.

Wave Board: Directional kiteboard used for riding waves.

Foilboard or hydrofoil board: A surfboard with a hydrofoil that extends below the board into the water. This design causes the board to leave the surface of the water at various speeds.

Bridles: Lines that maintain the shape of the kite.

(Control) Bar: Steering solid metal stick which is attached to the kite via lines and with which you control the kite.

Fin: A small piece of rigid material on the bottom of a kiteboard that tends to guide the board in a forward direction. Kiteboards usually have 4 or more fins.

Foil kite: Kite that have no inflatable bladders but instead has air pockets (air cells) to provide it with lift and a fixed bridle to maintain the kite’s arc-shape, similar to paragliding.

Foot straps: Are attached on the board and allows to put your feet in and avoid losing the board.

Kite leash: Strap that connects the rider to a safety system on the kite.

Line set (Flying Lines): made of a very strong material, frequently ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene, in order to handle the dynamic load in unpredictable wind while maintaining a small cross-sectional profile to minimize drag. Lines come generally in lengths between 7 and 33 meters.

Strut: Part that keeps the profile of the inflatable kite.


Back/ front roll: A trick where kitesurfer rotates their body 360 degrees in the air: back roll- clockwise, front roll- counter clockwise.

Handle Pass: A trick where the kite control bar is passed from one hand to the other behind the kiters back in the air.

Kite loop: The kite rotation 360 degrees in the sky. A kiteloop can be either clockwise or counter clockwise.

Railey: A trick where a kiteboarder jumps in the air and extends their body and swings the board behind them up over the level of their head.


Windguru/ Windfinder: Wind and weather forecasts for windsurfing, kitesurfing and other wind related sports. Forecasts for almost any location on planet Earth.

Downwind: The direction toward which the wind is blowing.

Upwind: Against the wind or the direction from which wind is blowing.

Off-shore: When the wind is blowing from the shore towards the water.

On-shore wind: When the wind is blowing from the water towards the shore.

Side-Shore: When the wind is blowing parallel to the shore line (along the beach).

Knot: A unit of speed equal to one nautical mile (1.852 km) per hour ≈1.151 mph. 1 knot- 0.514 m/s.

Thermal wind: The basic principle is that it occurs when there is a difference in temperature between the land and the sea.

Apparent wind: The kite’s speed relative to the surrounding air.

Rip currents: are powerful channeled streams of water moving away from a coast.


Edge: To tilt the board on its edge into the water and ride it that way. Used to control the direction of travel (essential to ride upwind) and regulating power in the kite.

Heel: The side of a board on the edge where your heels are (opposite of toe-side).

Unhooked: The control bar is not connected to the harness; the rider is holding the full force of the kite with his arms.

Right-of-way: The rule that determine the actions that kitesurfers should take to prevent the collisions

Toe-side: Riding toe side is riding with your toes facing the water.


Spot: A place where people go kitesurfing.

Pump up the kite: Means inflating the kite using a pump or air compressor.

Can you launch me?  Means assisting someone when he/she wants to launch the kite.

Untangle lines: When kite lines get tangled (loops and knots) then you need to untangle lines.

Pack your kite: Means detaching kite lines from the kite, deflating kite and folding the kite to fit it to the kite bag.

It’s very gusty: Means that wind is very unstable- speed is going up and down.

Have we missed a kitesurfing term, name or expression? Send us a message and we will add your suggestion to our list!