Nelo 550 - very brief and non-conclusive impressions

1 year 9 months ago - 1 year 9 months ago #28965 by Impala
Hi all,

during last weekend's Lake Constance Marathon I had the opportunity to paddle the new Nelo 550L (in WWR) for a couple of minutes. My background: a midpacker using an own-designed hybrid ski made of Paulovnia Wood, I can't sit a K1. I like to test other skis to compare to my own designs, get new ideas or strengthen my prejudices :P

As I paddled the new boat only for some minutes on flat water, these are really just first impressions supposed to start a discussion, not conclude it.

The intermediate Nelo was advertised as much more stable but almost as fast as the 560. This is to be achieved by a hull that is no longer round, but rather flat and box-like. In mention this beforehand because this explains the impression of boat behaviour I got. I also had the chance to paddle the 560 in similar conditions a couple of months ago, and I liked that ski very much.

The 550 has ample initial stability, as can be expected. It also accelerates very fast and turns on a dime. Secondary stability, at least for what I am used to, is lower than expected when you hit chop (it still high compared to an elite ski!). The cruising speed did not seem extraordinary to me as compared to my 580 x 52 hybrid (which has a very rounded hull with a 42cm max waterline). I would guess the 550's max waterline at my weight (72 kg) rather at 43-44 cm. I can of course not make any serious judgment on downwind behavior, but the few boat wakes I surfed left me with a very good impression about the maneuvrability & controllability of the ski.

Still, I must say that this boat did not 'blast me away' ... well, compared to my own design, commercial skis always tend to give me the impression of not snugly sitting in the boat, and the boat not snugly sitting in the water, but rather 'on' it, which I do not like, but this is rather better with the 550 as compared to longer skis. In defense of the 550 I also should mention that only the L version is available right now, in which I do not get enough boat contact.

The major point I want to make is something else: I believe it is not a fortunate strategy to make skis more stable by mostly flattening the bottom. This may give you excellent primary stability when first entering the boat, but stability reserves are then quickly exhausted in the rough if the boat is only around 45 cm max width.

Instead, I would make a narrow, tipply hull just broader (not flatter), which mostly adds secondary stability, something that in some boats you only discover once you enter the waves. The resulting boat behavior is more harmonious in real conditions, and the waterline stays narrow, preserving the speed potential. Last saturday I raced my own much broader hybrid in flat conditions over exactly 21 km in 11.8 kmh, with wash-riding opportunities only in the first half of the race, and I am not a race paddler by pedigree (I am training hard, nevertheless). And my boat is more stable than the 550 in waves, I dare say.

The message I want to get across is that I believe that many intermediate skis perform worse than they could (given their stability) because many designers commit the same specific mistake: they are anxious to keep overall width narrow in order not to give the impression of a beginner boat, and then pay for that with a flat bottom. Maybe I see that wrong, but it would be a pity if - after the excellent new 560 - the 550 would be merely a 'me too' design in that respect.

My remarks may be irrelevant for real downwind conditions, but let's face it: flatwater speed is an important criterion for surfskis, many of which are actually much more paddled in calm conditions than imagined by the designers. And speed may be even more sought after by buyers of intermediate than of elite skis. (in discussions on elite skis, people always ask for the stability of the ski, while speed is dominant in discussions on intermediate skis). I just think that many intermediate designs follow a misguided approach, but maybe that is just ... my prejudice I once more managed to confirm ;) .
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1 year 9 months ago #28966 by Ranga
So what was the speed of the 550 compared to what else you have paddled?

Without data what you are saying is fruitless, how a ski feels is subjective but actual speeds recorded is what will tell you how it compares.
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1 year 9 months ago #28967 by Impala
What was the speed ... I do not know. You have to test this rigorously on the flat w/o wind and at a constant but still high enough heart rate, repeated runs. I can't do this with test boats that I have in my hands just for some minutes. So I did only write about my subjective impressions (and regards stability, you will never read anything but subjective assessments) and discussed things I learned (by doing) regards design features.

I hope someone will find the time to rigorously speed-test the 550. My subjective impression was that it is more or less as fast as the Swordfish S that I tested the day before, and this is nice given its much shorter length. But claiming that it is hardly slower than the 560 seems over the top, at least in the flat. These are two completely different hulls after all.
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1 year 9 months ago #28968 by kwolfe

Ranga wrote: So what was the speed of the 550 compared to what else you have paddled?

Without data what you are saying is fruitless, how a ski feels is subjective but actual speeds recorded is what will tell you how it compares.


I have to say, this is the second post (one being in a thread I started) that you seem to miss the authors intent. Yes, speed comparisons would be great but he really focused on the feel of the boat and how the varying hull shapes effect that feel. What he is saying is far from fruitless. It's his impression and a valuable one at that.
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1 year 9 months ago #28975 by Paul600
Wasn't the flairing out of the hull something that Stellar employed on their range of skis? I seem to recall something about a 'swede' shape that had a positive affect on stability.

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1 year 9 months ago #28979 by nell
All hulls that I know of flare out above waterline (in beam) and this has been done forever. The only exception that I can think of offhand would be a semi-circular cross section hull with a paddler that's so heavy that the waterline width is at the top of the semicircle.

Swedeform is totally different. In the planform view from above the boat, swedeform is narrow in the front and wider just aft of center (front to back). Fishform is the opposite, i.e. wider fore of center. A symmetric hull would have it's widest beam at the center. ICF K1's are usually swedeform and most racing surfskis are, too. I think sea kayaks and rec kayaks are all across the board.

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1 year 9 months ago - 1 year 9 months ago #28980 by Steve Hansen
Nell, I think Impala is saying that the radius of the arch tightens above the waterline rather than following the original curve of the hull, if that makes any sense. More like a V, less like a U shape would be better.

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1 year 9 months ago - 1 year 9 months ago #28981 by Uffilation
Steve, V as in www.facebook.com/siprekayakscanoes/photo...6031/?type=3&theater
?

Actually, I consider posts like those of Impala very helpful.

First of all, c'mon, we are all used to the manufacturers'/dealers' arguments why there are no speed comparsions blablabla, yet a "one of us"-paddler is requested to base his first impressions on time trials else they would be worthless.
Yep, I know, there is that very helpfull 10k estimation table for the Epic models (which makes it quite clear to a lonesome evening fitness paddler, that a 30sec improvement might not be worth the upgrade) , but that's about it from the manufacturers. Then there are the charts of Wesley.

Normally we get bag fed with the usual markting spin, where any model has the stability of an oil rig but the speed of a jet. Now put that with Ranga's words: "Without data what manufacturers are saying is fruitless, how a ski feels is subjective but actual speeds recorded... ". So I do not see the point in discouraging people from posting their impressions on skis, which by the way are ALLWAYS subjective obviously.

Therefore, I find it very interesting, if someone who was impressed by the 560, paddles a half marathon with 11.8 km/h average on his self-designed wood surfski, then says: "the 550 did not blast me away". Sure it is subjective, sure it is no time trial, but he gave his reasons why and what else could have affected it, his weight, L size, chop behavior. All stuff that I am interested in and it's also about the feel, thrill and fun of a boat.
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1 year 9 months ago #28982 by Steve Hansen
Thanks Uffilation, that illustrates it exactly.

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1 year 9 months ago #28983 by Ranga
Just want to clear things up. As for me asking for the speed, he mentioned it but gave a feeling of speed, that is of no use to anyone, speed is a number. I am all for the feel of a ski, in fact the most important thing, comfort and ease of use is above everything else.

I paddle a V10 Sport and sometimes a V8 because I am comfortable and fast enough to race my mates on their very narrow tippy racing skis, I paddle for fun, why o why wobble your days away, might be fun for some, but I doubt it!
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1 year 9 months ago #28984 by Uffilation
I'm hearing you, but I guess you also have to see his speed comment in the light of the announcements, e.g. "on the flat it feels like a 560".

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1 year 8 months ago #29014 by photofr
So what would make a good review a better one?
That's a hard call... because I am sitting here in France, a little more than a week away from receiving our first three 550's - and there's nothing that I wish more than a complete review.

COMFORT AND FEEL
Who is the user and how does it feel to him or her?
Can it be compared to other skis?

CONSTRUCTION
How well is it built and can it be compared to other skis?

SKI BEHAVIOR
Flat water, Open Ocean, and Rough Water behavior are a plus.

FEATURES THAT STAND OUT
There's always a little something that we'll enjoy hearing about.

SPEED
That one is important, but obviously not the first on the list.
It would be nice to have a full comparative, but perhaps each user talking about speed should use a GPS.

Note to self: clients coming over to demo our skis show up without a GPS - and then date tell me that one ski is faster than the other (no big deal, IF THEY WERE RIGHT)

STABILITY
Same as speed, but I really want to hear from different groups of people: different abilities, different weight, different bodies of water.

PHOTOS
Needless to say, I love photos.

For now, I'll take what is given - and a big THANK YOU to the person who took the time to post.

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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1 year 8 months ago - 1 year 8 months ago #29017 by Stoebbi
Hello and apologized, all just Google Translator :))

COMFORT AND FEEL
A 57 year old paddler, 183cm, 75kg normal figure
Feel very comfortable in the Nelo 550 and sit well, ski has just the right
Seat width and for my legs I would have in every direction still a lot of space.

CONSTRUCTION
Quality I find very good, all internals very cleanly fitted.
Surface with beautiful finish.
Very nice narrow in the front area.

SKI BEHAVIOR
So far only flat water, with partly reflecting waves up
Max. 30cm height. Good to master, ski is stable enough.

PROPERTIES OF THIS STAND
Stability remains almost the same, does not really change at speed

SPEED
For me the speed I can reach is higher than in all previously paddled boats. With normal effort I paddle easily between 10km / h and 11 km / h and can also very fast speed up to near 15km / h. My Marahton over 42km I have improved by almost 30 minutes
Opposite my previous boats.

STABILITY
For me very good, much better than the Stellar SES, better than the Vajda Hawx46,
Better than the all-old V10 Sport, so far only applies to almost flat water.

PHOTOS

Epic V10 Sport
Hawx 46
Stellar SES
Epic V8 Pro
Attachments:
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1 year 8 months ago - 1 year 8 months ago #29020 by Uffilation
"Stability better than the Vajda Hawx46" now that got my attention as that would be cool.
L-bucket way too large for me (yes one can pad it out, but there is a limit to padding I can stand in a bucket lol), so I wait for the M/L to test, a pitty it´s the same hull as the L and there likely will be no M.
Would be nice if suited paddler weight ranges "would leak" lol, I heard 40-80kg for the ML, but that puzzles me as same shape as the L.

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1 year 8 months ago - 1 year 8 months ago #29033 by photofr
It's pretty cool to see the sheer number of short reviews on the new Nelo 550.

So far, I have gathered that the 550 ski is quite fast compared to elite skis like the 560. This seems logical, since the 550 has a narrow front-end (Nelo trademark as it seems) and logical as well because the ski isn't very wide (only about 1 cm wider than the 560).

Stability-wise, most seem to agree that the new 550 is super stable and hosts a lot of (reassuring) primary stability on flat water or calmer ocean. This is great news!

I am going to GUESS that the new 550 may feel a little more sketchy in super rough water, but then, we should ask ourselves: should entry-level paddlers go out in crazy rough conditions? I know that they want to, but should they really venture in the super rough stuff with a very valid intermediate ski?

The jury is still out on the stability of the 550 in mega downwind and chaotic waters - but perhaps I will also stand corrected. Either way, the arrival of this new Nelo ski is very welcomed, and highly anticipated here in France. It's like the week before Christmas :)

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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1 year 8 months ago #29034 by Jef58
I am intersted in hearing more about this boat as well....along with the new Think Zen. The 550 is in a slightly different level I'm assuming but still interested on how both perform. Another interesting point that the OP mentioned was the hull shape. The Zen appears to have a flattish shape behind the seat area and along with the width, should have the stability of the EZE.

I would like to see the hull shape on the 550. Is it similar to the 520 but longer...? I personally would be leery of the width (for myself) if it had similar shape of 560 or other elite boats. I'm looking for a slight upgrade from the EZE in the 18-19 ft range without going crazy with an elite boat. I still want the very narrow catch and bucket ergonomics that Think has and Nelo has said to have (having never paddled a Nelo ski...) Both of those are more important to me.

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1 year 8 months ago #29178 by Christian_Hoeier
I have borrow the Nelo 550 for a week from our local Nelo Dealer in Denmark (Dansprint) and this is my experience. Previously I have also tested Nelo 560 and Nelo 560ML so they can be included in the comparison.
I have paddle surfski for the last 10 years and 15 years before that in a racing kayak (still do). I’m 48 years old and my weight is 75 kg and height is 183 cm. Previous I have owned Epic V10L 1 gen.(650 long and 43.5 wide) and currently Nordic Kayaks Nitro (640 long and 43 wide).
I’m attracted to the Nelo surfski for several reasons.
· The wide is 45 cm (46 cm for 550) which makes space for the secondary stability and remount much more easy/safe – and still being a fast ski.

· The shorter sufski makes the boats lighter, more alive and more easy to store and transport.

· As Nelo is the leading manufacture of racing kayaks in Europe and we have many of the racing kayaks in the club. I know from experience that Nelo delivers high quality products and has a high focus on continued development.

The 560 and 560ML
I tested the 560ML in the “Bellevue Carbonology Ocean Race 2017” where Oscar Chalupsky also participated and gave good information about the new 560ML. The day after I tested the 560 and several kayaks from Carbonology just to compare with the 560ML.
The 560 and even more 560ML feels like a racing kayak on flat water, but with a huge secondary stability. The 560ML have the same bottom as the 560, but the height of the seat have been raised to make a better position for paddling but the instability has also increased – which is notable compared to 560
The small primary stability is probably what makes 560/560ML fast on the flat water and it also makes steering in the waves easy as they that be controlled by tilting the hips. The downside is that they require more works with the hips and core stability. I prefer the slightly better primary stability of my Nitro compared to these two. Secondly the seat fits me much better in the Nitro than the 560 (to big) and 560ML (to small). Between the 560 and the 560ML I would pick the 560 due to the better stability.

The 550
The 550 has a different seat from 560 and 560ML and seems to be a size in between 560 and 560ML which fits me better. The primary stability is also significantly increased. The bottom looks flat compared to 560. To me 550 is very stable and I went 5 km offshore to test the waves and my gut feeling. It surfed well in the ½-1 meters waves and behaved fine in the cross waves, however the shorter surfski does have an disadvantages in going against the wind. Instead of staying on top of the waves it bounced up and down making it a very wet ride back home.

The speed:
We have a weekly race which is 5.5 km long with about 50 to 90 participate every time. In flat conditions my last 4 runs have been within 4 sec with an avg. time of 28:37 in my Nordic Kayak Nitro giving a speed of 11.53 Km/h. Yesterday we had flat conditions again and I raced in the Nelo 550 with at time of 28:51 (11.44 km/h), so the Nelo 550 was less than 1% slower than my Nitro.
To me the Nelo 550 seems like a good compromise between stability and speed and that you can gain a lot of stability with a very low cost of speed for the most people.
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1 year 8 months ago #29180 by Uffilation
Christian you rule!!! Great Review!!!
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1 year 8 months ago #29181 by wesley
I should be able to paddle the 550 tomorrow for short demo paddle and then the following week take it out more extensively and possibly race it in a few weeks. I have a 560M currently that is still in the que for review once I have a bigger rudder for the ocean. I should have a customize rudder next week for the 560M.
Separately:
-See South African, Ian Black's review of the SEL 2G in big downwind conditions. This compliments my review I did when it came out.
-My next review will be the V12 2G that I have had for 3 weeks now. Gathering all my data points now. I hope to have done in early August, then the 550. I may review the 550 first but will know tomorrow! Looking forward to 550!!!!

Wesley Echols
SurfskiRacing.com
#1 in Surfski Reviews.

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1 year 8 months ago #29223 by agooding2
Very interested in this boat as it is an intermediate ski that would actually fit in my garage.

How does the initial stability compare to the Epic 2nd gen V10 and V10 Sport?

How about to the 1st gen Stellar SEI? I found this last one hard to handle.

Any insight yet on what bucket sizes would be like? M, ML, L similar to 560 or not?

Any comparison in speed to other intermediate surfskis on flatwater?

How about speed and stability and position to a trainer K1, like the Stellar Apex T?

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