Kiteboarding Lingo for Beginners

is the Dominican Republic safe?

If you’re in Cabarete, a world-famous kiteboarding capital, you should probably get up to speed with some kiting lingo. Whether you’re out on the water or staying dry on the beach.

How else will you be able to understand what all the kiters are talking about?

New to kiteboarding? Let me help you out with some kiting keywords to try out on the beach. That way you won’t be body-dragging socially, as well.

Kiteboarding is a relatively new sport, with the first competitive kiting event held in 1998 in Maui, Hawaii. But in the space of two decades, the sport has spawned a lot of lingo.

Let’s launch right into it.

Kiteboarding Basics

Air time, hang time: the amount of time spent in the air during a jump

body-dragging: being pulled along in the water without your board. You learn to body-drag before kiteboarding to practise flying the kite, and you’ll need this skill to recover a lost board in the water

boost: send the kite up through the power zone to lift the rider into the air

de-power: adjusting the angle of the kite to reduce its power and make it easier to handle

a downwinder: a planned long journey downwind, without attempting to drive upwind. A little forethought is required if you need to transport yourself and your kit back to where you started

edge: tilting the board’s edge into the water to steer or control power in the kite

heel side: the side of the kiteboard where your heels are. ‘Riding heelside’, with heels down, is the standard kiteboarding position

launch: the process of getting your kite up in the air, typically with the help of another person

guinea pig, wind dummy: the kiter who goes out first to test the conditions

relaunch: getting the kite back in the air after it has crashed down onto the water or land

send the kite: move the kite up through the power zone

overpowered: having too much power from the kite, making it unmanageable. You may need to switch to a smaller kite or wait until the wind is less strong.

toe side: the side of the kiteboard where your toes are, opposite to heel side

underpowered: not having enough power for your kite, you may need to switch to a larger kite

unhooked: riding when the chicken loop is not attached to the harness

The Wind

upwind: the direction where the wind is blowing from; into the wind

downwind: the direction the wind is blowing to. Facing downwind, the wind is at your back

side shore: wind blowing parallel to the shore

side onshore: wind blowing between side shore and 45 degrees towards the shore

side offshore: wind blowing between side shore and 45 degrees away from the shore

power zone: part of the wind window that will give you the biggest pull, an arc between 0 and 60 degress from the centre of the downwind direction

wind window: the 120-180 degree arc of the sky downwind of a rider where the kite can be flown. Outside of the wind window, kites will stall and fall out of the sky.

zenith: part of the wind window directly above a rider’s head. Riders position the kite here to stop moving or before a movement, as it is a neutral spot

nuking: extreme wind conditions of around 30-40 knots

Kiteboarding Gear

control bar: the bar you hold to fly the kite

chicken loop: hard rubber loop that attaches the control bar to the harness, so you can use your body weight to fly the kite and not just your arms

chicken bone, chicken finger: hard rubber tongue, attached to the chicken loop, that is fed through the spreader bar hook. Allows you to ride ‘hooked’ rather than ‘unhooked’

directional: surfboard-style kiteboard with one tip that you can only ride in one direction, great for surfing waves while kiting

spreader bar: stainless steel bar that attaches to the harness and holds the chicken loop

twin tip: bi-directional kiteboard with two straps or boots for your feet. You can ride right foot or left foot forward, as the board is symmetrical

Freestyle Kiteboarding Tricks

backroll: a backward 360 rotation in the air

big air: a very high jump

front roll: a forward 360 rotation in the air

handlepass: passing the control bar around behind your back while in the air and unhooked

kiteloop: making the kite do a loop while you are at the apex of your jump. This is advanced stuff and very highly powered

mobe: a backroll with a 360 frontside handlepass. More generally, any trick involving an invert and 360 spin

raley: unhooked jump where legs fly up behind you Superman-style. One of the first unhooked moves riders learn

stomp: to successfully perform a trick

When it all goes wrong

Hindenburg: when a kite stalls and falls out of the sky, a reference to the Hindenburg airship disaster of 1937.

kitemare: a kiting accident or mishap

kook: an overconfident, erratic rider who lacks control and may put others in danger

lofted: being lifted vertically in the air by a strong gust of wind. Can be very dangerous if kiting near the shore or rocks

luff: when the air flow stalls around the kite. A luffing kite will ripple, flap and maybe fall out of the sky

mowing the lawn: uninspiring kiting style, tacking back and forth repeatedly without variation

schlogging: riding severely underpowered, usually bouncing and dragging in the water

tea-bagging: being lifted and dunked into the water, perhaps due to gusts of wind or twisted lines

walk of shame: the walk along the beach upwind to where you launched your kite, due to an inability to drive upwind

yard sale: a spectacular fail at a trick that sends your gear flying around you like items at a yard sale

Now, off to Kite Beach

You’re ready with all the lingo you’ll need to chat to kiters on Kite Beach.

Cabarete is a haven for watersports lovers from all over the world. With consistently perfect wind conditions on 300+ days a year, Cabarete is the destination for your active kiting vacation. At eXtreme, we are positioned right on Kite Beach, so you can be the first on the water when the wind picks up!

Our whole set-up is geared towards making your kiting experience as smooth as possible, and making sure you get the most time out on the water. A grass patch to wash off your kit, safe storage space, and instructors on hand. What more could you ask for?

Surfers, before heading down to Playa Encuentro, check out our lesson in basic Surf Lingo. It might just help you express all the fun you’re having out in the water.

As always, look after the ocean, enjoy it, and stay safe!