Beyond basic surfski/downwind/paddling related terms (mostly in English), we've also included some local slang from prominent paddling communities around the world - just to add a little color - but that is by no means meant to be comprehensive in any way. On the other hand, if we have missed any major surfski or downwind related terms (again, we are English centric), please remind us with an email - surfski.wiki email
Australian slang for “afternoon”
term used in Bellingham, WA. for the local older paddlers (60+ yrs old) who are still tenacious racers and downwind enthusiasts. Also sometimes referred to as “ancient murrelets”1) 2) 3) 70+ yr old paddlers are called “Grand Barnacles”
Photo: Reivers Dustin - Click to enlarge
Bob McBeath and Duncan Howat Smoking the Youngsters in the 2018 S2S Canoe Leg
This is a subset of common boat terms that may be more likely to be heard in reference to surfskis (particularly from paddlers with experience with other types of boats)
using one of your paddle blades in a “fixed” position to press against the water for stability and support
when a sailboat turns sharply back into the wind because the rudder cannot compensate for the forces bearing on the boat's direction it is “broaching”. The same term is used in downwind paddling, when your boat turns sideways (usually at speed, on a wave) though you are trying to steer it forward with the wave. More speed, turning too far, and less rudder surface area in the water (using a smaller rudder and/or because your rudder is lifting above the water) all contribute to a greater tendency to broach. Broaching in surfskis is also common when paddling at a low speed and being overtaken by a steep or breaking wave (such as slowing down too much in a surf landing zone).
Latin American Spanish term for a small canoe. In Puerto Rico “cayuco” is an idiomatic term for a difficult situation: “Esto està cayuco” = “this is a big mess”. A popular annual multi-day race in Panama is the Ocean to Ocean Cayuco Race through the Panama Canal (crocodiles are a protected species in the Panama Canal).
If you are traveling in open water (paddling, foiling, kiting…) on wind driven waves (or a combination of swell and wind waves), you are downwinding 6) , or going on a downwinder. Paddlers (OCs, SUPs, Surfskis) get added speed and propulsion by surfing on such waves. “Downwinding” can be done in the form of repeated laps or by paddling solely in one direction, but saying you are going on a “downwinder” typically implies going in one primary direction from point A to point B downwind the whole way, having setup a shuttle for pickup at the end point and retrieval of vehicles from the start point. The exhilaration of downwind paddling drives the growing popularity of surfskis more than any other single factor.
Paddling either directly close behind another water craft (drafting) or alongside and trailing about 2/3 of the lead boat's bow (riding the lead boat's bow wake) reduces the effort required to maintain the same speed as paddling without any draft would require. The directly behind draft effect (water slipstream) for boats is strongest when closest. But care has to be taken to avoid annoying the lead paddler(s) or damaging your and their boats by bumping into them when too close. Drafting is generally not practical when downwinding, but serious racers will try to use it to get any ounce of assistance possible in other situations though drafting in choppy water requires a fair amount of skill both to stay close enough to get benefit and to be efficient enough to avoid using more energy than paddling solo would consume. See also WRS, Drafting technique
Eponyms - words created because of the close association between a person or place and the word. Examples: nicotine, boycott, diesel (after Rudolph Diesel, not Vin).
“feather” of your kayak paddle refers to the angle your blades are offset from one another. Feathering your blades may be helpful in paddling upwind - reducing the wind effect on the recovery side blade. When one blade is in the water, the one in the air (if feathered) slices through the wind rather than catching or having to push against it. Oscar Chalupsky (somewhat controversially) in recent years has recommended surfskiers adopt zero feather to simplify bracing and because feathering is not needed when paddling downwind. There is a fair amount of argument about 0 feather, but it has gained some adherents, including Boyan Zlatarev in Tarifa.12)
also known as wind fetch or fetch length is the length of water over which a given wind has blown without obstruction. A longer fetch along with stronger winds contributes to larger wave size. Some refer to “fetch width” which can contribute to waves coming from more directions although a number of geographical and weather factors can also contribute to multiple wave directions without necessarily having a large fetch width.
Swedish for “Cock-a-doodle-do Surf Maneuvers” or daybreak downwinding/surfing.
A typical or average Australian male. Ocker is also used as an adjective meaning characteristically Australian (also occa, okker) (Can be used to describe someone uncouth, etc., but we're sticking with the more positive definition here, mate, because the Aussie surfskiers we have met are a fine bunch.)14)
South African term for “person”, “guy”, “bloke” - male or female
Term from surfing meaning a nosedive. Strictly speaking in surfing it refers to a nosedive into the wave you are on, which is rare with a surfski unless you are on steep waves such as shore break. Having a surfski nose submerge more commonly involves burying your bow into the base or back of the wave in front of you when you are downwinding. The degree that the nose gets buried can often be moderated by leaning your torso backward which will usually reduce how far your bow gets buried thereby reducing your speed loss and diminishing how long it takes for your bow to pop up on top of the water again. Extreme nosedives on steep waves can lead to “pitch poling” where the rear end flips over the front. This usually occurs only in the very steep waves found in shore break, boomers, or very big seas and lends itself to boat and boater injury.
The path between two points on a surface that allows a constant bearing. On a curved surface like the earth it is not the shortest path, but it allows the simplest navigation. On a two dimensional surface it is also the shortest path. Wikipedia: “Over the Earth's surface at low latitudes or over short distances it can be used for plotting the course of a vehicle, aircraft or ship. Over longer distances and/or at higher latitudes the great circle route is significantly shorter than the rhumb line between the same two points.”
The following are the traditional definitions of such currents. It is not uncommon, however, to see “rip current” used to refer to an actual tidal race.
another word for “money” according to Reivers Dustin's Uncle Claude.16) Uncle Claude was right. Spondooley or spondoolie is a modern variation of 19th century slang “spondulix” meaning money or cash.
Term from surfing meaning “excitement”, “euphoria”, “thrill”, “exhilaration”, “delight”, etc. Also used as in “I'm stoked” meaning I'm “excited”, “euphoric”, “thrilled”, “ecstatic”, “exhilarated”, “pleased”, “delighted”, …
A tidal bore, or simply “bore”, happens when the leading edge of an incoming tide forms a wave (or series of waves) of water that travels up a river or narrow bay against the direction of the river or bay's current. Well known tidal bores around the world.
“Time on Water”
“outblowing” - the Dutch cure for the winter blues which is basically spending time in the wind.
The Dutch practice of jogging or walking in the wind, especially in the winter, for the purpose of feeling invigorated while relieving stress and boosting one's general health. Combine this with the positive effects of being on or near water and downwinding would seem like a double benefit for paddlers in colder climes like Bellingham, WA.
repeatedly missing waves and sliding back down their backsides is called “wallowing”
Wallowing may be due to any or all of these:
From labman.phys.utk.edu (Univ. of Tennessee)
“Water waves are surface waves, a mixture of longitudinal and transverse waves. Surface waves in oceanography are deformations of the sea surface. The deformations propagate with the wave speed, while the water molecules remain at the same positions on average. Energy, however, moves towards the shore (with the wave). Most ocean waves are produced by wind, and the energy from the wind offshore is carried by the waves towards the shore.”
With many types of boats the following is often suggested: If a boat weathercocks, adding weight to the stern can help balance the handling. If a boat lee cocks, adding weight to the bow can help balance the handling. This is not necessarily practical for solo surfskiers, but can suggest ways that you might want to consider arranging paddlers in doubles if the conditions merit.
the most commonly used terminology refers to the direction wind is coming from:
“Wash Riding Scum” - derogatory racing term for paddlers who draft and either never take turns pulling from the front, or draft continually until race end then sprint to beat the boat(s) that carried them on their backs for the entire race. Attitudes about wash riding without turns in the lead can vary depending on local race tradition and the experience of the paddlers involved. Drafting is usually considered just fine and a part of racing skill in most locales although there are exceptions. And those who are learning or trying to improve by keeping in a slipstream that they can barely hang on to will typically be cut some slack (good racers generally have methods for dropping weak drafters if they wish). Others who hang back solely to try to sprint to wins are sometimes not considered so favorably - hence “WRS”. When dealing with this tactic, many consider such WRSers fair game for tactics such as scraping off at turns and obstacles.
From urbandictionary.com: “A word used to show excitement, originally by surfers but now used by non-surfers….”