Kiteboarding Tech Terms Glossary

Posted on January 1, 2013 by Pete Hardie


Twin Tip: A kiteboard design that is symmetrical on both ends and can be ridden both directions on the heel side edge.

Freeride Board: A board designed to go upwind well and be suitable for a wide range of conditions. Usually these boards have a good amount of flex and not too much rocker. Great for boosting, cruising, mowing the lawn etc.

Freestyle Board: A board designed to load and pop and maintain control in fast landings. These boards are usually stiffer and often lighter than freeride boards.

Wakestyle Board: These boards tend to be ridden a little larger than freestyle boards. Riders often use wakeboard boots or bindings for more control. Wakestyle boards are designed for a style of riding where riders keep their kite low and edge and pop against it (similar to a wakeboard cable park). This requires a board that can handle hard and fast landings. These boards typically have lots of rocker, channels at the tips and less flex than other boards. Wakestyle boards are also used for park features (sliders, kickers and rails).

Rocker: The amount of bend in the board from tip to tip. The less rocker or flatter the board is the better it will do in light wind. The more rocker a board has the smoother it will be through chop. Rocker is usually either continuous (a smooth curve from end to end) or 3 stage (flat sections with more pronounced turning points).

Flex: All twin tips will have some amount of flex to them. A stiffer board is better for advanced riders and a softer flex is better for a beginner. If you go too soft the board will ride like a noodle and constantly be bouncing around.

Bottom Shape: Most boards have some sort of bottom shape that will help break up the chop. The more radical the bottom shape on the board the better the board will rider though chop, but this can also slow a board down.

Concave: The shape of the bottom from side to side. Most boards will have either a single concave (a single smooth curve) or a double concave (two curves that create a ridge down the middle of the board). Concave increases board stability and makes it's easier to edge. Double concave helps with stability when riding the board flat. Freeride boards usually have a single concave while freestyle boards will often have double concave.

Channels: An exaggerated version of double concave. Channeling adds even more control to a board but will speed and planing ability. As a result, manufacturers that use channeling will typically use it only near the tips or next the rails to keep the center of the board smooth. Channels at the tips also allow you to ride without fins (for park riding).

Planing: This is when a board travels on top of the water (instead of ploughing through it). When kiteboarding, you will be planing almost all the time (if not, you are underpowered and won't be able to stay upwind).

Inserts Nuts that are mounted in the board to accept screws allowing you to connect your footstraps or bindings.

Insert Spread: The distance from one insert to another. Spread is measured from the center of one hole to the center of the other and in most boards is now 6 inches.

Handle: Placed in between your feet in the middle of the board. Helpful when starting out to get your board on your feet.


C-Kite: These kites resemble a C shape in the sky and usually have direct connection to the kite (no bridles). C kites have less depower than most kites but make up for it in performance. These kites are most suited to advanced freestyle riders.

Bow Kite: Bow kites have a flat (bow) shape in the sky with a large bridle supporting the leading edge. The advantages to bow kites are: large wind range, good jump hangtime and excellent upwind ability. Their downside is that they can be slower to turn than some other kites.

SLE Kite: This stands for supported leading edge and refers to any kite that uses bridles to connect the lines to the kite itself.

LEI Kite: Leading Edge Inflatable.

Delta Kite: When you lay these kites out flat on the ground they have a straight trailing edge and a curved leading edge. This gives the kite a unique shape when inflated and in the sky. You can often tell a delta kite because the wingtips are very triangular. Delta kites have excellent relaunch and good stability.

Hybrid Kite: As more kites seek to keep everyone happy, the hybrid category has emerged which gathers features from multiple designs to create versatile kites that will please a wide range of riders. Most kites on the market can now be classified as some sort of hybrid.

Bridle: A structured collection of kite line that attaches to the leading of edge of most kites. Bridles support the shape and can have a big effect on the performance of the kites.

Leading Edge: The edge of the kite that is inflated "leads" the kite as it flies through the wind window.

Trailing Edge: The edge of the kite that is not inflated.

Aspect Ratio: Aspect ratio measures the width of the kite (from the leading edge to the trailing edge).

LWR: Light wind relaunch.

Bladders: The internal plastic tubes that are inflated. These resemble the inside of a bike tire but are thinner and clear in color.

Strut: The inflatable ribs that run from leading edge to trailing edge.

One Pump System: Also known as single point inflation.

Smooth Power: A tricky term used to describe the smooth motion of the kite when flying it through the wind window. This term means something different to everyone.

Canopy: The name given to the large open area of the kite (i.e. everything except the leading edge, struts and wingtips.

Ripstop Nylon The lightweight material used for the canopy of kite. This material is specifically designed so that a small tear in the material doesn't rip to create a large area of damage.

Dacron: A reinforced material used to add strength to areas of the kite. Dacron is heavier than ripstop nylon but much stronger so is usually used sparingly - especially on larger kites.

Control Bars:

Line Length: The distance of the lines from the bar to the kite. Longer lines are recommend for larger kites because they increase the size of the wind window and allow you to create more power. Most line lengths fall in the 20m - 27m range.

Front Lines: These are the lines that run from the chicken loop up to the leading edge of the kite. These lines carry the most weight as they are always under load and will typically stretch a little over time. Also called Power Lines or Center Lines.

Steering Lines: The lines that run from the end of the bar up to the trailing edge. Also called Control Lines or Back Lines.

Dyneema An ultra strong hollow core rope used for core parts of the bar (e.g. chicken loop rope).

Chicken Loop: The loop used to connect the bar to your harness hook.

Chicken Loop Rope: The length of rope that runs from the chicken loop up through the bar to the base of the front lines.

Donkey Stick: A stick used to pass through your harness hook and secure the chicken loop in place. Also referred to as the donkey dick or chicken stick.

Flagging Line: A connection point for your kite leash that will flag the kite out on either one or two lines allowing you to self rescue or self land.

Stopper Ball: A sliding piece that lives on the chicken loop rope above the bar allowing to set an optional length of bar throw. This is useful for example when cruising to pull the stopper ball down and give your arms a rest. Almost all stopper balls will slide up if pushed with enough force - for safety reasons.

Depower: An adjustable rope or strap that allows you to adjust the amount of power in the kite. The depower adjustment changes the length of the front lines which changes the amount of power in the kite by default. If you "pull on" depower, you are making the front lines shorter and taking power out of the kite (because the back lines become relatively longer).

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