Sunday, November 1, 2009

Furry in the puffs- understanding windsurfing slang

The other day someone requested that I do a post on windsurfing lingo. So, here it is. For the sake of brevity I'm leaving out most of the gear terminology and focusing more on words describing windsurfing conditions, action, and enthusiasm. If you're a non-windsurfer or a beginner, maybe this will help you figure out what people are talking about on the beach.

It - The wind and water conditions. "How is it?" "It's windy!"

Launch - Noun; a beach from which you can windsurf. Verb; to put your windsurf in the water.

Walk of Shame - When you are unable to return the to spot on the beach you launched from, and you have to walk back carrying your gear.

Skunked- When you go to the beach to try to windsurf but are thwarted for some reason, usually because there's not enough wind.

Skunk-proof- When you are insured against getting skunked by having equipment that works well in light wind or no wind conditions. E.g., "I always bring my longboard and a paddle so I'm totally skunk-proof."

Yard Sale - A dramatic crash that ends with you and your gear scattered in disarray.

Downwind - The direction the wind is flowing towards. "Larry drifted downwind and had to do the walk of shame."

Upwind - The direction the wind is coming from. "I had to tack and point to get upwind away from the pier."

Point / Pinch - Windsurfing as close to upwind as possible. "Dave beat me to the upwind buoy because he was able to point higher."

Tack - 1: When you change directions by turning the board upwind and switching sides. 2: Your direction of travel; to the right side with your right foot forward is called starboard tack and to the left side with your left foot forward is called port tack.

Carve - When you tilt the board to do a sharp turn. "Sally carved so hard she threw spray, like, 10 feet in the air."

Jibe / Gybe - Carving a turn in the downwind direction while switching sides of the board to change tacks. "I'm having a hard time planing through my jibes."

Planing / On a plane - The high-speed mode of windsurfing where your board is skimming on top of the water, rather than merely floating in it. "I'll never forget my first time planing."

Onshore - Wind that is blowing straight at the beach. "It was hard to get out past the waves because of the onshore wind."

Sideshore - Wind that is blowing parallel to the beach, which is what windsurfers usually prefer.

Offshore - Wind that is blowing from the beach towards the open water. "Ed got blown out to sea when the wind turned from sideshore to offshore."

Light - Not particularly windy. "It's light."

Teaser breeze - Wind that looks decent, but proves disappointing. "It was a teaser day."

Cranking / Honking / Howling / Raging - Wind blowing hard.

Blasting / Trucking / Booking - Windsurfing fast.

Ripping / Jamming - Windsurfing with skill and aggressive style.

Dialed / Dialed In - In tune with the wind and water conditions and windsurfing well. "Glenn is always totally dialed."

Gust - A short-term increase in wind speed affecting a small area.

Gusty - Wind characterized by frequent and severe gusts.

Puff - Another word for gust; sometimes a bigger or longer lasting gust. "It's really getting furry in the puffs!"

Furry - Ragged water texture with some blowing spray, associated with very high wind.

Liquid smoke - Beyond furry, when there's lots of blowing spray.

Nukin' - Extreme high wind. "Look at the liquid smoke, it's nukin'!"

Epic - Exceptionally good or strong / scary conditions. "Remember that epic Nor'easter we caught at Buckroe Beach last year?"

Powered / Juiced / Lit - When there's lots of wind in your sail and you're enjoying it. "How was it on your six-five?" "I was f'ing LIT!"

Overpowered - When there's too much wind in your sail, and you're struggling to stay in control.

Flattened / Spanked / Nuked - When you're overpowered to the point that you actually can't sail.

Survival Sailing / Victory at Sea - When conditions are so challenging that you don't bother trying to do any cool moves or anything; just being able to avoid disaster is a good accomplishment.

Tailwalking - When you're going fast in strong wind and the nose of the board flies up in the air unexpectedly.

Spin-out - When you're going fast and the fin loses its grip in the water, causing the board to skid sideways. "I was blasting along great until I caught some seaweed on my fin and spun-out."

Shift - A change in wind direction.

Shifty - Wind that is changing direction a lot.

Header - A wind shift that forces you to veer away from your destination.

Lift - A wind shift that helps you reach your destination.

Lull - A short-term decrease in wind speed.

Hole - A serious lull affecting a certain area. "I was leading the race until I got stuck in a hole and everyone passed me."

Holey - Wind characterized by frequent and severe holes.

Patchy / Spotty - Wind with a mix of gusts and lulls.

Gassed - When someone passes you on the upwind side, temporarily blocking your wind and slowing you down. "I know John is a fast sailor, but it's annoying the way he keeps gassing me."

Marginal - Barely windy enough to do the desired kind of windsurfing. "It was marginal for my six-six, I had to pump to get planing."

Six-six, five-seven, four-oh, etc. - Sail sizes; 6.6, 5.7, and 4.0 meters squared, respectively. Sails go from 12.5 down to about 3.0. Smaller sails imply stronger wind. "How is it?" "Awesome, I started on five-five and I'm about to re-rig to four-seven!"

Pump - Flapping the sail to generate power, usually done to help initiate planing.

Slogging / Shlogging / Schlogging - The slow and awkward windsurfing you do when it's not windy enough to plane with the board and sail you're using. "It started out good, but then the wind died and I had to shlog back to the beach."

Session / Sesh - An outing on the water. "It was a good session, I was planing most of the time."

Rig - Noun; a windsurf sail. Verb; to assemble a windsurf sail. "What [size of sail] are you rigging?"

Re-rig - What you have to do if the sail you put together the first time proves inappropriate for the wind conditions. "I was underpowered on my six-oh, so I had to re-rig to seven-five."

What was he on? - What size and type of board and sail was he using?

T.O.W. - Time on the water invested in the practice of windsurfing. "Fred doesn't get much T.O.W. since he's such a wind snob."

Wind snob - Someone who only windsurfs when it's really windy. "I'm usually the only guy out on light wind days, because everyone else around here is a wind snob."

Smooth / Glassy - An undisturbed water surface, usually associated with very light wind, but sometimes found between rolling waves or in the lee of a sandbar or jetty.

Butter - Smooth water that is fun to carve though. "Between the swells it was total butter."

Chop / Choppy - Small or medium-sized, non-breaking waves like you'd find on a small lake or bay on a breezy day.

Chop-Hop - A small jump initiated in flat or choppy water.

Psycho-chop / Voodoo-chop - Steep, large, disorganized chop that is challenging to sail through. "I got catapulted going too fast through the voodoo-chop by the bridge."

Catapult / Slam / Over-the-handlebars - A crash where you get thrown forward into the water. "I accidentally hooked in before I was ready and I got catapulted."

Hooked in - When you have the hook on your harness belt resting in the harness loop on the boom, supporting your weight from the sail. "It's hard to stay hooked in when the wind is gusty like this."

Swell - Medium or large-sized, non-breaking waves that form when the wind blows over a long, uninterrupted area. "When the wind is steady from the North it builds up nice swells that you can carve on."

Wave - What a swell becomes when it hits shallow water and starts to get steep and break.

Shore Break / Shore Pound - Waves breaking right on the beach, which suck because they are impossible to ride and because they make launching difficult. "I got denied by the shore pound."

Denied - When you are trying to get out past the breaking waves but can't make it because the waves smack you down. "I got denied twice before I finally made it to the outside."

The Outside - Away from shore, beyond where most of the waves are breaking. "The swells were really big on the outside."

The Inside - Close to shore, within the area that the waves are breaking. "I stayed on the wave too long and got caught on the inside."

The Impact Zone - The specific area where the waves are breaking hardest. "It was a great session until I went down in the impact zone and broke a mast."

Closing Out - When a wave is breaking along it's entire length, making it difficult to avoid or escape the breaking part or the whitewater.

Whitewater - The white mess of foamy, roiling water after a wave has broken. "I was trying to get out, but I kept getting pushed back by the whitewater."

Mushy / Crumbling - When the waves are breaking gradually, as opposed to rearing up and curling over abruptly. "The waves were kind of mushy, but I still got some good rides."

Mast Munchers / Crunchers - Big waves that are breaking hard.

Head high / Logo high / Mast high - Descriptions of the height of breaking waves. Logo high is over your head, but not quite as tall as the sail.

Ramp - A steep chop, swell, or wave in a position where you can do a big jump off of it.

Baf / Back-and-forth / Flatwater blasting - The typical kind of windsurfing where you're just going back and forth perpendicular to the wind, enjoying yourself but boring your spectators.

Bump & Jump / B&J - Like baf, but with some jumps thrown in. Usually takes place at venues with some chop and swells, but is not true wavesailing.

Wavesailing / Waveriding - When you're sailing in and around breaking waves, specifically positioning yourself to ride waves as they break.

Backside [waveriding] - When you're on a wave with your back to the wave, which is typical for onshore winds.

Frontside [waveriding] - When you're on a wave with your body facing the wave and the sail between you and the wave. It's the most fun type of wavesailing, but it requires well-organized waves and sideshore or offshore winds.

Going down the line - Traveling sideways along a breaking wave, staying on the part that hasn't quite broken yet. "Dude, I did, like three frontside turns going down the line!"

Teabagger - Kiteboarder.

Stoke - Enthusiasm, happiness, and excitement. It comes from the word "stoked", describing a fire that is burning hot because it's getting blown on.


Sergey Menshikov said...


Morley said...

how 'bout 'voodoo' or 'voodoo chop'

Bill said...

A relatively new term since Hatteras LoopFest 2008: "Looplicious!"

James Douglass said...

Sergey- Hmm, fill me in on those ones...

Morley- Oh, yeah! Good idea. I put that in alongside psycho chop.

Bill- Most definitely.

Scott said...


Up heah in Boston, we sometimes say "slammed", "slapped" or "smacked" as well as "flattened".

On-shore waves are often called "mushy". "White water" is where the mush is.

"Shore break" / "Shore pound"?

"Head high" / "Logo high" / "Mast high"?

Van said...

Bravo! Thank you much.

Van said...

Teabagger - Kiteboarder? Is that right? I thought a Teabagger was a crazy right-wing republican - lol.

DL said...

Yard sale - a big crash when you and your gear go catawampus

James Douglass said...

Scott & DL - Ok, incorporated your suggestions.

Tackandjibe said...

Enjoyed the list. How about adding "Skunk or Skunked?" Meaning; getting to your favorite spot and nothing is happening - no wind, no waves, flat. Of course, this leads to "Slaying the skunk," usually via SUP. "Got to the beach and was skunked, ‘til I pulled out my SUP, had a good sesh and slayed the skunk."

James Douglass said...

Tack and jibe- Whoa, how did I miss that!? Ok, I just added them in. :)

USA-4 Steve Bodner said...

Great collection of windsurfing slang.
Here's a few more...

Pannekoeken tide is where there are no ripples on the surface of the water on an incoming flood tide but windy enough to plane

fuckitsnukin- time for the 3.9
farfromnukin- time for the sup