Written by Dan Copenhaver
Good to know: incredibly fun, agile boat that can fit a huge range of people with the correct size.
Paddler Background: I went from plastic sea kayaks, to an Epic V7 to a Nelo 550XXL. I paddle primarily rough water and swell in the Columbia River Gorge. 6’5’’, 230lbs.
Nelo sizing is unique in the industry. My wife and I both paddle 550’s and we’re on opposite ends of the size spectrum. Both of us get a boat with the correct volume and a comfortable bucket. The XXL boat is a bucket size that is not common especially in a non-beginner boat. Rare combination of large bucket and high performance ski.
WWR seems durable. Two boat separations due to leash failures where the boat came ashore the rocks and no further damages than cosmetic scratches on the surface of the gelcoat.
Colors! Not just boring white!
Turning and agility. The quick maneuvering (especially on waves) is just worlds away from the slow barge like tracking of other longer skis (especially the 20-21ft boats). By comparison, it feels like a go cart..
Excellent acceleration even in the ‘’heaviest’’ layup, I think due to the shorter length.
Short length is useful for fitting in between short period waves, like Gorge waves.
Screw mount for deflector! I find the deflector is also required for downwinding.
Nelo brand/supplied tough strike guards so you don’t have to tape up the paddle strike zone on the hull.
The stock rudder is very quick and very fun but a 10 or 15deg 8-10” DK is a better choice for downwinding IMO. Anything with a shallower angle is neutering the speedy turning too much.
Narrower catch compared to some other intermediate boats.
A little twitchy primary stability with stock rudder (calms right down with a longer rudder) but a reliable predictable and generous secondary stability.
Second to none for fun in surfing in waves.
The foot pedals scuffed the inside of the cockpit out of the factory when set for my long legs. Had to sand the down the corners of the pedals
The footboard, even the carbon one, has some flex. A bottom mounting point on other brands seems to fix this.
The breather hole will suck in water in any capsize and needs a straw pointed down to avoid this.
Footboard is too short for size 13 feet and foot area is too narrow to fit neoprene boots. Neoprene socks without soles are ok.
Rudder doesn’t really self center with the bungees.