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A More Complete Article about Windsurfing Terminology

Novice on the beach

In a previous article (this one) I was telling you that if you decided to take up windsurfing, you need to familiarize yourself with a few windsurfing terms so, you know, don’t look like a complete newbie. If you decided that windsurfing is the sport for you (and why shouldn’t it since it’s fun, easy to learn, and a good way to get some exercise) then you need to familiarize yourself with the windsurfing lingo. I’ve put together a glossary of windsurfing terms. Check them out below:


Air time - The amount of time you spend in the air (off the water) when performing a jump. The same as “hang time”.
Apparent wind - A combination of the wind speed and the speed of the board over the surface of the water (when sailing in a straight line). It is a combination of the true wind and induced wind (the wind created by the board’s motion).


Backwinded – When the wind direction switches sides.
Batten - A length of carbon or plastic that adds stiffness or shape to the sail.
Beach Start – When you launch from a solid platform (usually the beach, hence the name).
Beam Reach – Sailing at a right angle to the wind.
Bear-Off – When you turn downwind. The same as head-off.
Bear-Up – When you turn upwind. The same as head-up.
Bear-Away – When you turn the board away from the direction of the wind. Same as bear-off.
Beat – When you zigzag against the wind so that you can reach a point that’s upwind.
Beaufort Scale – A scale used to measure wind intensity.
Board - The buoyant piece of material you stand on when windsurfing.
Boost – Initiating a big jump.
Bow and Arrow (BAP) – This term refers to a specific windsurfing position: keep your front arm straight and pointing forward; keep your back arm bent and close to your body. If done properly, to the untrained eye it looks as if you are pulling on an invisible bow.
Broad Reach – Sailing away from the wind, but not directly downwind.
Bump and Jump – Sailing in choppy waters, favorable for performing jumps.
Buoyancy aid - Flotation jacket meant to keep you afloat. It is different from a life jacket which is meant to keep your head above water even if you are unconscious.


Center of Effort (CE) – The place in the sail where it seems that the wind concentrates in; the balance point of the sail.
Center of Lateral Resistance (CLR) – The place around the dagger board (in the case of a long board) or around the fin (in the case of a short board).
Centerboard – a large, retractable fin that offers stability and increased the board’s upwind capabilities. It is regularly found on learning boards.
Centerline – The line (imaginary line) that passes through the middle of your board, lengthwise.
Chop Hop – When you jump using chop as the ramp.
Clew - The corner of the sail farthest from the mast.
Clew First – When the clew is pointing forward because your sail is reversed.
Combination Move – When you perform several moves in a row but it looks like one big move.
Cross Shore or Side Shore - The wind that blows parallel to the shore.


Dawn Patrol (DP) – This is when you go riding very early in the morning.
Downhaul – The rope that pulls the sail down onto the mast; the rope is attached to the mast base.
Downwind – When the wind is blowing forwards. May also refer to a the board’s path of travel relative to the wind.
Drop-In – Cutting off another windsurfer when in fact he has the right to be on that wave.


Eye of the Wind - the direction from which the wind is blowing; the exact direction of the true wind.


Fat – Pulling of a really impressive maneuver.
Fin - The piece of equipment that is attached to the bottom of the board in order to provide better stability and ensure the board goes in a straight line.
Flex - How much the board can bend.
Foot – The sail’s bottom edge.
Foot strap – the piece of equipment that holds your foot; the foot strap is meant to give the rider more board control and allow for foot steering at high speeds.
Freestyle – This term refers to freestyle windsurfing, a technical style of riding, focused on pulling off various tricks.
Free Position – When your feet are not in the foot straps and you are unhooked.
Frontside Riding – You are riding with your front to the wave, downwind.


Going Off – Refers to a sailor that is sailing well.
Grid Construction – Refers to a method of constructing sails, method that uses hybrid materials known for behing very durable.
Groundswell – Due to a distant earthquake or due to a storm, an ocean swell occurs.


Hang Time - The amount of time you spend in the air (off the water) when performing a jump. The same as “air time”.
Harness – The jacket-like piece of equipment you wear on your waist, or the diaper-like piece of equipment that goes on your bottom.
Harness Lines- The lines that are attached to the boom, the lines you use to hook in to the harness.
Head-Up – When you turn upwind. The same as bear-up.
Helicopter – This term refers to a freestyle trick. It involves rotating the sail 360 degrees.
Helmet - Protection equipment that goes on your head and prevents you from sustaining head injuries. It should have a chin strap so that it doesn’t fall off.
HI-HO – short for Hook In and Hang On.


Impact jacket - A special jacket that is meant to absorb the impact when you wipe out. It has little buoyancy.
Indexed Mast Check System (IMCS) – A method of calibrating the stiffness and curve characteristics of windsurfing masts. It is internationally recognized. A certain IMCS will be provided by the manufacturer when you purchase windsurfing gear.
Induced Wind - The wind created by the board’s motion.


Jibing – When the board’s tail passes through the eye of the wind because you are changing the direction of the board. You are turning down wind and then continuing to turn until you are going in the other direction (a 180 º turn).


Kit – The European term for the entire windsurfing gear. Similar to “package”, as in “package deal”.
Kook – someone that should not be out on the open water; an idiot (in terms of windsurfing smarts).


Lip – This term refers to the crest of the wave; the place where the wave breaks.
Liters – The board’s volume is measured in liters.


Mast – The piece of equipment that supports the front edge of the sail.
Mast Foot or Mast Base – The piece of equipment situated at the bottom of the mast, used to attach the rig to the board.
Mast Hand – The hand on the boom that is closest to the mast.
Monofilm – The name of a material that is commonly used in sail construction.


Neoprene - This is a synthetic rubber that is used to make insulating clothes. The neoprene comes in a variety of thicknesses and the clothes made from it have varying degrees of insulating properties.
Nose – This term refers to the front of the board.
Nuking - When the wind is blowing at extreme speeds.


Offshore - The wind that blows away from shore.
Onshore - The wind that blows in towards the shore.
Outhaul – This term refers to the line that connects the back corner of the sail or the clew to the boom.
Oversheet – A maneuver that involves sheeting in the sail across the back of the board.
Over the Falls – When you are thrown over the lip of the wave. Also called “'going through the rinse cycle”


PFD - Short for personal flotation device or lifejacket. It is meant to keep your head above water even if you are unconscious.
Plane – The board is gliding over the water (skimming the surface of the water), not plowing through it. The nose of the board slightly rises out of the water.
Pointing - You are going as upwind as possible.
Port tack – Riding port tack is when you are riding along and your left hand is on the front of the bar, your left hand is forward. Starboard tack has the right of way; port tack yields to starboard tack.


Radical – This term refers to when you attempt to do something extreme, something incredibly dangerous.
Rig – The rig is made up of the sail, mast, mast foot, and boom.
Ripping – When you perform numerous maneuvers on the wave.
Rocker – The board’s bottom which is shaped like an arc. There are differences from brand to brand.
Running – The direction of the wind and the direction in which you are sailing are the same.


Sail Throw – This term refers to when you let go of the boom. By taking both hands off the boom the sail is thrown.
Sick – Pulling off a maneuver perfectly.
Sinker – This term refers to a small board that is used in high winds only.
Slick - Flat, smooth water.
Slog – The wind speed is not high enough so that you could start to plane.
Starboard tack - When you are riding along and your right hand is on the front of the bar. Starboard tack has the right of way; port tack yields to starboard tack.
Stick – This term refers to the windsurfing board.
Stoked – The term describes the feeling of euphoria that you experience when you are riding, and riding well.


Tack - the direction in which you are riding/sailing; to turn the board upwind.
Tail – The board’s back end.
Tight Reaching – When you sail close to the wind.
Transition – This term refers to any method employed for changing from one tack to another.
True Wind – The actual wind speed, measured when you stand still.
Tweaked – when you add a little something extra to a move in order to make that move stand out.


Upwind - The direction from which the wind is blowing; into the wind.
Universal Joint (U-Joint) –The piece of equipment that connects the sail to the board and allows the sail to move in various directions.
Uphaul – A rope that is used to pull the sail up and out of the water; the rope is attached to the rig.


VaS (Victory at Sea) conditions – The term refers to harsh meteorological conditions.
Volume – Measures how much water the board displaces. A board with more volume floats more easily.

Water start – A technique that involves using the sail to lift yourself from the water and onto the board. When using a larger board you can stand on it and uphaul the sail. You can’t do that on a smaller board, so you have to water start.
Wetsuit - insulating suit made of neoprene. It protects from cold water and cold air.
Windward – Towards the wind; in the same direction as the wind.

If I’ve missed a term or if you can provide a better explanation of what a term means, leave a comment below.