Windsurfing Glossary and Terms

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I : J : K : L : M : N : O : P : Q
R : S : T : U : V : W : X : Y : Z


Apparent Wind – Is the wind/breeze felt by a sailor or observer. This is the combination of the true wind and the wind caused by the boat's movement through the water.


Battens – It is one of the several flexible strips or wood, plastic, or tubes placed in pockets in the sail to hold the sail's shape and to keep it flat.

Beam – This is the widest part of a boat. A transverse structural member of a ship's frame, used to support a deck and to brace the sides against stress. It is the point halfway between the bow (front) and stern (rear) of a sailboard.

Beam Reach – This is sailing at 90 degrees to the wind where the wind is coming directly over the beam of the board.

Bear Off – It is another terms used by windsurfers meaning the same as 'falling off.'

Beat – A term meaning to sail to windward.

Boom – A long pole that extends upward at an angle from the mast to support or extend the foot of a sail.

Bow – This is the front section of a ship or boat.

Broad Reach – This is sailing with the wind just behind the beam.


Camber induced sail / Camber inducers – These are plastic devices that hold the sail away from the mast so that there is a smooth flow of air across the mast to the sail on both the windward and leeward sides of the sail.

Center of effort (CE) – This is a point at which all of the force of the wind can be thought to concentrate.

Center of lateral resistance (CLR) – A common used to direct that point at which all of the sideways motion of the board may be thought to be concentrated. On the boards that have centerboards, the CLR is approximately at the centerboard.

Centerboard - A retractable device that, when down, keeps the board from going sideways and also reduces the boat's draft in shallow water. Entry-level boards have centerboards. Those without a centerboard (in the down position) a novice board will not sail up wind. The centerboard will also steady the board and make balance easier.

Clew – The rear corner to which the boom is attached is known as clew.

Close Reach - The point of sail between close-hauled and a beam reach.

Come About, Tack - To change direction so that the sail is flown in the opposite side by turning through the eye of the wind.


Downhaul – Line, a rope, or a set of ropes that is used to pull down the mast or securing a sail or spar. On modern sailboards, correct tension in the downhaul is the most critical sail adjustment.


Eye of the wind – This is the direction from which the wind is blowing.


Fall Off – This doesn't mean jumping off your board. It means to change direction so as to point beyond away from where the wind is coming from.

Fin – see skeg definition.

Foot - The lower edge of a sail.



Head up – The mean to change direction so as to point closer to where the wind is coming from.



Jibe (jibing) - To shift direction so that the sail is flown on the opposite side by turning away from the wind.



Leech - The after side of a fore and aft sail and the edges of a square sail.

Leeward – It is the opposite direction from which the wind is blowing .

Luff - the leading edge of a sail.


Mast - A pole usually going straight up from the deck (height can be tuned for different body weights), used to attach sail and boom.



Outhaul - A line used to tension the foot of a sail, used to maintain proper sail shape.


Planing – A boat rising slightly out of the water so that it is gliding over the water rather than plowing through it.

Port Tack - During normal sailing stance, you would sail a course with the left hand in front. The wind will be coming from the left (port) side of the board. Port tack boat must stay out or give way to the boat on starboard tack.



Rig - The arrangement of masts, spars, and sails on a sailing vessel.

Rotating asymmetrical foil (RAF) sails – These are sail which have battens that project beyond the back aspect of the mast, so that there is a smooth airflow on the leeward side of the sail. They are usually less expensive than camber induced sails.

Rules of the road – Always follow the rules that govern right-of-way when two boats meet (`boats' includes windsurfers).

Running – This is when sailing in the same direction as the wind.


Sheet in – This is an action of pulling the sail in with the back hand. On a boat, the sheet is the line (rope) that controls the sail. Boat sailors control the sail by pulling on the sheet. Windsurfers sheet the sail primarily with their back hand.

Sheet out – This is the opposite of sheet in.

Skeg (also known as fin) - A small, flat piece of wood or plastic attached vertically to the bottom of the shell to help the shell stay on a true course; also known as a "fin".

Starboard Tack – This is where the sailboat sailing on a tack with the wind coming over the starboard side and the boom on the port side of the boat. If two boats under sail are approaching, the one on port tack must give way to the boat on starboard tack.

Stern - The stern is the rear or after part of a ship or boat, technically defined as the area built up over the sternpost, extending upwards from the counter to the taffrail.


Tack - A point of sailing with the wind on one side of the boat (noun); to change the side of the boat from which the winds blows by turning the bow through the wind.


Uphaul - (1) Pull the sail out of the water. (2) The line that sailors use to pull the sail out of the water.

Universal – This is the joint that connects the mast to the board. It can rotate in all directions, hence universal.



Windward - The side or direction from which the wind is coming. The windward side of a ship or boat is the one the wind blows onto. The windward side of an island is next to the lee shore: the wind is blowing onto it, sometimes a dangerous place for a sailing vessel.




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