Nelo 550 - very brief and non-conclusive impressions

4 months 1 week ago#29234by wesley
I did paddled the 550 on flat water last week and will paddle in the ocean tomorrow. My impression is how Christian characterized his experience. I will add how I think it will compare to the other intermediate skis per my experience. I believe the 550 will compete at the top end of the intermediate skis along with the SEI that I rank as the fastest intermediate ski with superb glide though the least stable. The SEI is 18inch by 20ft while the 550 is 18inch by 18 ft so similar beams unlike the rest of the wider intermediate skis. I must say the hull looks very sleek. It does have that characteristic Nelo feel with the primary and secondary stability. The secondary kicks in fast and it holds nicely and very securely. Acceleration that Nelo skis are now known for due to the overall length and hull design is excellent on the 550 as well. The Nelo feel is different than that other skis so certainly worth demoing. If my prediction holds true, the 550 will be slotted as one of the fastest intermediate skis. Even if you are not concerned about speed, the 550 is an efficient ski for sure for most all conditions, just like my 560M is for the conditions I use it for. Unless I paddled my 560M and raced it, I would have never believed the acceleration and race pace speed. The 560M now holds a spot in my garage, will the 550?

Currently in my garage for intermediate skis are the SR 2G, SEI 2G, Evo 2 ultimate, Evo 3(not mine). All of these skis I really enjoy for various reasons. Advanced skis: Uno 2G, SEL 2G, V12 2G, Ion 3G, Nelo 560M. So more to come. Your experience may differ from mine base on a variety of varibles so best to demo any ski to make sure it fits first of all, and secondly meets your current goals and needs. Remember Fit then Stability and then Speed!

Wesley Echols
Former Stellar Kayaks and Surfskis, Performance Director, USA ,, #1 in Surfski Reviews.
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4 months 1 week ago - 4 months 1 week ago#29235by photofr
We just received our Nelo 550 in France. I so agree with Wesley: the 550 may very well turn out to be one of the fastest intermediate skis on the market.

I'd like to emphasise on couple of things:
Stability is remarkable!!!!

Primary stability:
As you get on the ski, you immediately "feel" the "anchor" point. Primary stability is enhanced by 3 peculiars design concepts on the hull - as follows: The bow area starts flatter almost immediately. The center of the ski is flatter than the 520. The stern is also flatter longer! I believe that this is making a huge difference.

Secondary Stability:
To my great surprise, secondary stability is very well present. I believe this is achieved with the added height of the sidewalls. Either way, you can expect plenty of secondary when things don't go the way you want.

Aside from the acceleration, average paddlers will find the 550 to have a very pleasant glide. Go ahead - you can take a 520 (with or without a GPS) and then hop on the 550 AND you will immediately notice the difference in speed. Then grab a GPS and you will be floored.

Seriously, I LOVE the bucket on my 560M - and I am quite picky. Note that am light and somewhat skinny (135 lbs.) with smaller bones than most. Well, while this may turn out to be very personal, both my wife and I find the bucket of the 550 MORE PLEASANT. The brand new bucket has incredible ergonomics, and I believe we should talk about that a little more.

The bucket of the 550L is quite large. It will accept larger hips with little or no doubt. The bottom of the bucket is shaped like a "double bucket", providing me with a snug fit. I feel anchored on the 550 that's a little deeper, though I am not anchored on the 520 or 560M.

My wife (larger hips - who doesn't read this forum) :) has the exact same conclusion as I do - and has zero restrictions.

The cockpit:
It's long and will accommodate plenty of of adjustment. You CAN request the 550L to accommodate shorter paddlers. Neo will adapt and place the footplate bracket closer to you. Note: I am 5'6" with short legs - and I fit into the ski without any doubt - and without the bump getting in my way.

Leaning back on the bucket (for those steeper waves) provides great support without pain or restriction. Think "smooth" rear bucket.

Note on sizing:
The 550 comes in two sizes: The 550L and the 550ML. The 550L (that I currently have on demo) is clearly designed for taller and heavier paddlers. To be clear, it was not at all designed for lighter and shorter paddlers like myself, but works very well (the ski is still in its waterline).

It's important to note that as a super light paddler, I wish the bucket was slightly forward - but again, the 550L is a LARGE.

The 550ML should come out really soon. It should have the exact same hull as the 550L, but with a bucket more adapted for lighter and shorter paddlers. The bucket may very well be placed more forward. However, I could totally live with the current model. It still surfs and reacts like a charm.

I tried the 550L with the two rudders that come with it: the flat water (weedless) rudder as well as the surf rudder. Normally, skis with the flat water rudder aren't as responsive - but the 550L will blow you away. Put on the surf rudder and you'll be in for a heck of a surprise on your next favorite downwind.

Yope - Nelo Narrow.

Wider for the stability you have been looking for.


I sincerely hope intermediate paddlers will have a chance to try one.

(Brittany, France)
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4 months 1 week ago#29238by Hacker Mike
Thanks Wesley. Looking forward to a more detailed report once you have had a chance to paddle the 550 in some big downwind conditions. I paddled the 520 in 15-20knt 1-2m swell and had a ball mainly due to its nimbleness. My concern remains the low volume in the front when going down steep mine shafts in the big stuff. I imagine the 550 will be the same so I am very keen to hear people's experiences with this.

Ludovic, from your post, it is unclear if the 550 M/L is already in production or not. I am interested because I have been advised that a 550 M/L is on its way to SA, but your post seems to imply that it is not in production yet. Could you please clarify?

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4 months 1 week ago#29239by photofr
Hey Hacker!
The 520 has a tendency to shaft on shorter waves, or if you aren't turning enough early on. In bigger downwind, I still make mistakes and I can still get the 520 to pearl from time to time -again, I believe it's user error.

Important to Note: the 550L has more bow volume. The 550ML will have the same hull. Pearling the new 550 in bigger conditions will take "great skills" - or a ton of weight. :)

Regarding production, it is my understanding that the 550L is selling like hot cakes, and that the 550ML is already in production. If you are lucky enough to have placed your order a few weeks back, your 550ML should be on its way. To find a more accurate status, contact your local Nelo Rep.

(Brittany, France)

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4 months 1 week ago#29240by wesley
So yesterday I Paddled the Nelo 550 on my home waters. I broke my record for my Pier to Pier quarter mile time trial with a time of 2.04 minutes and 2.06 for second interval. Typically I range from 2.10 to 2.15 over the years.The 550 reminded me of my 560m but way more stable and FUN. Meaning it handles like a go cart, picks up tiny tiny wavelets and acceleration is super. Hard to believe so much stability speed comfort in an 18ft by 18inch ski.

Yes to your point the bow volume at a minimum compared to every other ski that I have paddled. Yesterday was a flat day so after my big race next weekend I will take it to our rough water race course and put through the paces. One of our local top paddlers will paddlers will use it in the Blackburn(open ocean 20 mile race, little downwind if any) and I expect he will do well. More to come after the Blackburn.

I rarely paddled in big downwind conditions due to the where I live, Newport Rhode Island, USA. Downwind yes, confused, big, sloppy, refractory yes. So it may not be the ski ideal for your conditions. Having said that, I predict it will find a place in the market for many paddlers. In a few weeks I will have even more info. But so far, I am liking it a lot. FUN in a small package!

Wesley Echols
Former Stellar Kayaks and Surfskis, Performance Director, USA ,, #1 in Surfski Reviews.

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4 months 1 week ago#29241by nell
Hacker Mike, I've been using the 560L for about a season now. I've demo'd the 550 on flat water and found bow area to look pretty similar to the 560.

With regards to DW paddling, the needle nose Nelo does tend to go through the waves ahead of you and not up and over - which takes some getting used to. I'm finding that by keeping the power on, though, that I can go through those waves faster and more easily than going up and over them in a boat with a longer and higher volume bow, and therefore, with an aggressive experienced paddler, I think the 560 (and possibly the 550, too), could be slightly faster DW in steep wind waves of 2-4 ft (1 m).

Before I put the wave deflector on, I was occasionally getting buried up to the footwell (without much loss in speed). After I put the deflector on, the ski the ski doesn't bury nearly as much and speed doesn't seem to be adversely affected, so I'm a big proponent of the deflector.

I'm finding the Nelo a fun boat to paddle DW with on moderate size wind waves. Once I get the rudders sorted out (the stock ones are really poor), it should work a bit better. I don't yet have an opinion yet on how any of the Nelos would work in ocean swell or in really big seas.

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4 months 6 days ago#29243by Ranga
"Rudders are really poor" Really?
I have NEVER paddled a ski with an ability to turn as well as the 560L, if anything that is the most profound immediate difference I felt compared to any other ski I have ever paddled. This is naturally in downwind conditions. The 550L can only be better.
I also find it strange that people do not put the wave deflector on? Why not? I have heard all the reasons but if you think you are faster than the best in the world maybe you are onto something!, however as for me I will follow the best in the world and put mine on. I need all the help I can get.

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4 months 6 days ago#29248by Hacker Mike

Thank you Wesley, Ludovic and Nell for sharing your experiences. I am looking forward to further impressions as they come in.

It appears that it is the L that is on the way to South Africa. Being 1.83m, 76-80kg's and size 32bum with small bum, would the L be suitable or do you think I should rather wait for the M/L boat? I know this is subjective, but your thoughts on this will be appreciated.

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4 months 6 days ago#29254by M.v.E.
Hacker Mike: I tried the Nelo 550 L a couple of weeks ago when Oscar C. brought them to a Surfski race here in Germany. Iam 192 cm, 84 kg size 33/34 and I found the bucket too wide for me. I was constantly sliping around in the bucket. I didn´t mind cause it was on calm water but in Downwind conditions I would prefer a narrower bucket.
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4 months 6 days ago#29255by photofr
UPDATE on the 550... just for you.

Today, I spend 7 hours "on the ski". Well, I did lend it for about 2 hours in various conditions, and here's the feedback from both of us.

First, know that I am light (think super light (about 130 lbs., super short legs for 5'6", small waist 30" - and small frame to go with the entire package). My student was 6'3", about 210 lbs., but smaller hips than average).

I fit the ski very well - my behind sits perfectly in the bottom shape of the bucket. I never felt like I was remotely slipping out. Meanwhile, the bucket is super large for my smaller frame, but again, that didn't bother me in the least.

I entered rougher waters, nice downwind (not big, but 3-4' swells) and several boat wakes including massive liner with rough water. Stability was overkill, fit was seriously more comfortable than my 560M, the rear of the seat held me in place better, and well: I had a blast.

My student felt quite snug - he's older - so hips tend to rise and swell a bit as we get older. I could have padded our legs a bit, but why bother, when there's no need for more stability????

We were both stunned that the same cockpit could fit my short legs and his absurd long legs.

I don't know how the ski sits on the water with me in it, though it feel quite good. I wish the seat was a little more forward (for my taste on DW) but aside from that, fine by me.

For him, however, the ski was sitting PERFECTLY on the water.

So, I don't know if this will answer all of your questions, but I hope it will help a little.

(Brittany, France)

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4 months 5 days ago#29260by Ranga
Generally If the seat is too big for you and you are slipping around makes me question your stability on the ski. I love a wide seat on a stable ski however on a tippy ski it has to be more snug. That said it is me that is the problem, not the ski! Get a more stable ski and have fun paddling it as opposed to fighting and struggling to stay on it.

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4 months 4 days ago#29267by JonathanC
Is it too early to try to quantify the stability of the 550L to some extent?

Realise its early days but it would be interesting to hear how it compares to latest generation of ski's like the V10s or the Swordfish.


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4 months 4 days ago#29269by ccchappell
We just got our 550 here in New England, Andrius Z will be racing it in the Blackburn this Saturday, then off to Wesley's for a few weeks for him to test out and review. Nothing formal yet on stability, but it is definitely very stable for its speed. Below are three flat water videos I took this weekend to just show some of the characteristics of the 550 on the flat.

The first one my wife is just warming up for an 8 mile paddle. At the 4 mile mark it got pretty bumpy with some reflected waves where she is normally starting to panic in her Gen 2 V10L, not falling out but lots of tap braces and focused directly on staying upright. Wesley and I were laughing because she was looking directly to the side at us talking about the boat as she just paddled through this section...she actually wanted to keep going.

550 - 1 of 3, Leslie at Sakoneet

This next video is Andrius at our local lake just getting the boat adjusted, dialed in. Some nice shots of the speed and how the boat rides in the water in the flat.

550 - 2 of 3, Andrius on the lake

The last one is of a guy we met at the lake who has never paddled a sea kayak or surfski, but wanted to try. He is a former rower, so athletic, but this video shows some of the secondary of the 550. The last few seconds of the video he is moving pretty good...obviously wants to paddle some more!

550 - 3 of 3, Sean on the lake

We will definitely have more feedback after the Blackburn Challenge on Saturday, lots of folks looking to demo.


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4 months 4 days ago#29278by Hacker Mike
Thanks everyone for the feedback. Really informative. From the views expressed above, it seems that the 550M/L will be the better option for me.

Nelo have confirmed that the 550M/L is already shipping to
agents who have placed orders for it.


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3 months 2 weeks ago - 3 months 2 weeks ago#29384by Hacker Mike
These babies have arrived in SA. Hoping to have them next week to test

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3 months 6 days ago - 3 months 5 days ago#29591by Henning DK
Comments on Nelo 550 ML, compared to Epic.

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I am now enjoying my new Nelo 550 ML SCS, and I can share my views on this.

I am used to paddling a range of Epic surfskis, and I have owned an Epic V10 GT in which I have paddled about 2000 km during the last year. I never felt completely confident in ocean waves in the V10, and I hope to get more satisfaction with a Nelo 550 and improve my paddling in big conditions without loosing to much speed in smaller waves and flatwater, which is what we have most of the time.

I am 190 cm / 80 kg and the Nelo ML fits me perfectly, with just anough extra room for both hips and even longer legs. I don't think the bucket is any shorter than in the L version, just a little narrower and moved about 5 cm forward, which is probably good for smaller paddlers in particular. I always felt comfortable sitting in any Epic ski, from V7 to V14, and the Nelo doesn't feel much diffferent to me. The final test of this will be the 73 km Tour de Gudenå flatwater race in four weeks!

First impression is stability. It is exactly as I expected and what I had hoped for, just right between the V10 and the V10 Sport. I think the seat in the ML may be a little higher than in the L model, which I have not tried, but it satisfies my need for more stability than the V10, especially in waves. I noticed that second stability is still good even when the the bucket is filled with water, which is probably because it is so low anddoes not contain that much water anyway, very nice.

Maneuverability and how it feels in the water - this is where the Nelo is different. The Nelo 550 turns very fast like the short Epic V7 or V8 Pro, but compared to even these shorter models, the Nelo is much more lively in the water, and the difficult part is not turning but rather going straight without too many unwanted deviations from the course. I think this is why some people feels the rudder is not good, but it's probably not about the rudder, but a result of the flat shape of the hull behind the seat. In my V10, I felt I was traveling on rails and it took a long curve to change direction, but the Nelo feels much more like the Elio Cobra K1 touring boat I loved to paddle before switching to surfski some years ago. It moves a lot, but once you get used to it and use your body to control it, it's not a big problem. Just feels more like a K1 than a ski, I think.

Speed… I don't know, I don't use GPS and have not raced in it yet. But acceleration is good, and it catches waves very easily.

All in all, I am very pleased with my new 550. I choose to have it completely in white, and I think the Nelo 550 is a good looking surfski, beautifully shaped. That means something, too!


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2 months 2 weeks ago#29863by SurfskiEstonia
HenningDK, I feel that someone needs to congratulate You on the super clean design of your ski. Might as well be me.

Completely white and no logos or anything else. Really super B)B)B)
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2 months 1 week ago - 2 months 1 week ago#29871by Watto
Haha sorry SurfskiEstonia but guess I fail your super clean ski design taste test. Ogling at the new Revo skis, R2 below, these certainly less than your clean design. Mmmm busy ..

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2 months 1 week ago#29873by Henning DK
Must confess.. after admiring the clean organic shape of the 550, I could not resist ;-)
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2 months 1 week ago - 2 months 1 week ago#29876by kwolfe
Add me to the pack of 550 owners. I'll give some more feedback after I get a couple of outings in it. My experience will be from a flatwater standpoint as I don't live near the ocean.

I don't drive with it like this. Only turned it to show off the racing stripe!:woohoo:
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