The Nelo 560 Ski. 560 Review May 2016






560 Medium





This is a first impression review only. There is a lot of interest in this boat as it has been a number of years since Nelo released a new design in the Ocean Ski class. As such we thought we would put down as much information to assist fellow paddlers. Thus, this is not a comprehensive, all conditions or fully documentated test review of this boat, and as always the best way to get a feel for what it is all about is to take one for a paddle.

These are the comments and thoughts of both Leda (Medium 560) and Cameron (560), which is great because we fit the two sizes of 560 very well - but more on that later.


We have paddled the 560 original for 3 years, so this 560 review is somewhat based on " relative" changes to the original.  Speeds noted again are for relative comparisons.  The original 560 was a very different ocean ski.  It was more K1 than classic ocean ski and performed very differently.  The original 560 became known as a boat that suited 5% of the ocean ski paddling population, and was considered a terrific boat for flat water or  harbour , open waters.  So first a bit about the original 560.

^ The Fleet of 560's


560 Skis

^ Blue 560 paddled by Cameron, White 560 by Dave Smith (London K4 gold medalist)

The Original 560

The mark 1 560 had a couple of design traits that could be considered as flaws - mainly being it was very twitchy and unstable generally. Other performance traits specific to the 560 were :

  1. twitchy and unstable

  2. difficult to remount due to stability

  3. long narrow foil rudder which produced a lateral lift under sharper turns. 

  4. it would wave pierce upwind, and would be a wet boat generally

  5. it had less side freeboard and would get swamped occasionally

  6. the hull was deep and narrow , meaning the venturi was often very poor at draining water rapidly from the cockpit.

With all of these taken into consideration, it is an awesome boat.  I absolutely love it,  with all the quirks as above the advantages outshine them by far.  The advantages of the original 560 are:

  1. Very fast hull speed at higher speeds - I will refer to speed later on.

  2. Very fast acceleration

  3. Very responsive to runners, and dramatically faster and early to pick up on runs.

  4. responsive to steering and being shorter was more manoeuvrable and agile in chop, ocean and washes.

  5. the long foil enabled "foil riding" in which the lift of the foil could be balanced and "surfed" providing immense directional control.

  6. Upwind it would stay level and with the sleeker bow and cowling it would more efficiently travel into small seas and strong winds.

  7. It had comparable running speeds to the longer skis, yet with the above attributes would also have the ability to go faster for less effort at any given time.

  8. Remounting and the instability highly tuned the paddler to the craft and conditions.


Taking the Pros and Cons into consideration, as mentioned in the introduction, the original 560 became a boat suited for the more advanced paddler.  Typically it required more time to get used to and thus the easier options of the Epic V14 or V12 and the Fenn flagships tended to provide a better package for the majority.
So to be sure, to get a handle on this - the original 560 was faster, more responsive and easier to catch runners, but the negatives of it being too unstable and twitchy and possibly too much of a hand full in rough conditions meant it was only seriously considered by the top 5% .  Lets not forget the dominance of Tim Jacobs, the only racer who seriously campaigned the 560 , and the ability for that combination of athlete and craft to dominant by at times big margins. 

^ Tim Jacobs 2nd Worlds 2013 - 560 mark 1



The New 560 - (Mark 2) 2016

The new 560 (Mark 2) was released last month , and the first two boats arrived in Australia last week  We were the first to paddle them, which was very nice.

^ Slighty hull around seat area













The boats are WWR or No.4 construction, one large and one medium size.
They were both really light and really easy to setup.
We like to paddle them fresh, so leaving aside all the details and specifics, put them on the water and went for a paddle.

^ The 560M Medium looks very exciting for the smaller framed paddler

It was flat Pittwater, which is a semi open harbour, that gets small wind chop and lots of boat traffic washes.

Sitting in them felt similiar to a 560 but the seat pan has been modified a little.  More purchase on the rear of the seat, just enough indent to stop your coccyx rub.  The feet position relative to the seat was very similiar to the old 560 and is very much aligned to the setup of K1's.  Unlike other ski's that can make you feel like your paddling uphill by having either a very low seat of high heels, the 560 feels biomechanically efficient.



Stability was the next thing noticed.  Pushing away from the bank in the old 560 always kept you aware that the boat was twitchy, while this new 560 is far more stable. 
Stability is also very much an individual relationship. Some paddlers find Primary or stationary stability to be a good guide, others find rougher water stability a better indication. From our experience the more skilful and experienced paddler can adapt to a wider range of conditions, and thus the concept of stability comes down to how well can I paddle this boat - ie how comfortable and powerful am I.

The new 560 is an elite ski, and the new version sits in the same range as other elite skis when considering the stability.

^ Approximate indication of 560 stability compared to a range of craft.



^ Outlook across the bow shows a slightly fuller deck but otherwise very close to the old 560.















The cockpit is classic Nelo, however the seat pan has been modified to provide a flatter / less angled rear and wider floor to the seat pan. The sides have been scupltured to give sufficient clearance for calf muscles and the bump between seat and footwell is low and does not interfere with full leg drive.


^ The cockpit shown here is for the large , the Medium (in these pictures the green boat) is suitably smaller and shorter cockpit.


^ The seat pan - the ridge in the centre appears significant but is not noticable at all whilst paddling.


^ Comparing the new 560 to the old , the new 560 is slightly wider and roomier, which for the larger paddlers is probably a good thing.


The footplate felt very strong and secure, it adjusts on a slide.   A very handy Lock up for adjustment and then twist to spring lock into place.  The setup is for a plastic (feels high quality and strong) rail and bracket which takes care of adjustablity including Angle, Height and also Footstrap positions.  The footplate itself is Carbon fibre with carbon pedals.  The ability to setup different height and angles enables complete customisation. 

The main advantage of the carbon pull strap is that it will not sag down , meaning that if you remount you know that your feet can slide under and be away. This becomes more evident when you use the new bailer as you can adjust with your heel and then go back onto the footplate under the strap without any mucking around, or wiggling of your toes under a soft strap. The other benefit is that the solid carbon strap enables a great position to mount the ubiquitous GPS watch, and it can be tightened , remain upwards and firmer than if on a strap.

^ Footplate is height and angle adjustable. Carbon pull strap / soft strap also an option. Various height settings and setoff positions for pull strap.



Rope is used and we are accustomed to Stainless steel.  As a result a certain lag and stretch was evident , you would soon get used to this, or Nelo Australia can fit Spectra rope. 
The Rudder with pronounced cutoff tip looks , well like a cutoff fin.  t also has a larger chord thickness and typically feels like a powerful , low stall design.  We prefer the high aspect narrower fin, as this is truely awesome, but not enough time has been put on the boat to determine the true nature of the fin.
Refer to paddle tests -

^ The Nelo Cinco rudder housing is used, with the tried and trusted substantial cross bar and clamp.


^ Front Bulkhead, Footplate rails and steering line exit.






The Bailer:




^ The Bailer

Magnus De Brito from Sweden has designed the bailer.  It is operable, so similiar to the Anderson or Epic bailers, but seems to be more ergonomic than the Epic in operation.  In closed position no water leaks in, and it has 3 indexed stops to full open.
Ergonomically the bailer can be easily opened and closed by your heels, and in fact it takes very little time to get used to it, before you can do it without missing a beat in paddling.  This is a terrific advance.  It can also be used by hand operation.
In first index you would set it for traveling in constant rough waters, ie like a beach launch or very windy .  This provides about as much sucking and exhaust power as a conventional fixed venturi design and does not seem to noticibly effect speed or make much noise.
The Full open position is a monster, if really sucks, and also makes a lot of noise and approximately takes 0.5 kmhr off the running speed.  But it also really works incredibly fast and does not seem to need a lot of speed before it really hits full suck power.  A completely full cockpit - bathtub style, emptied in about 10 secs traveling only at 9kmhr or so.   This is an enourmous benefit when you get fully swamped as you can heel operate full open, 10 secs later you have a dry boat and heel operate to close.  The old 560 would still be draining at the 40 sec mark and requiring speeds of over 12kmhr as a minimum.














^ The Blade Entry has subtle cutouts

The most important thing is how it paddles.
As mentioned we have only just started paddling the new boats so do not have a large array of conditions however here goes:



On the flat.
The boat happily travels fast.  If you are familiar with the subtle differences of the Nelo K1's then the Old 560 was like a V2 , the new one is like a Quattro.
The boat will comfortably hold running paces from 12km - 14km more efficiently than the old 560.  It accelerates fast to the top speed of around 18-19 kmhr .  Compared to the old 560 it may lack a tiny bit of initial response in acceleration , however it is still far more responsive to power / stroke rate changes and resultant speed compared to other elite skis.

It has good directional stability and trims nicely with an even trim profile across the speed ranges.  The blade entry point is narrow (it has subtle cutouts) and the cockpit enables full leg drive with no interference.

The boat has less rocker and this contributes to the general running pace and ease of holding speed.  It appears that there is slightly more width and fullness around and behind the seat area.  Both these features give the boat a stable running feel and makes it more predictable to maintain speed.

^ The Rocker of the Old 560 (Black) versus the new 560 . Note both hulls in middle section were level.



Speed testing
During testing the Epic V14 was slightly quicker than the V12 , both in running speeds sitting at around 12 - 12.5 and then sprint effort speed sitting at 14-15 and then really struggling from 16-17 as a peak speed.  Typically a V12 would be slightly slower in running and then up to 1kmhr slower at the top peak speeds.
Our testing involved flat water , neutral conditions, known course, GPS, Stroke Rate and HR verifications across a range of speeds over 500m.
The Fenn and Stellar top of range boats were tested at the same time and were generally found to be slightly slower across the range compared to the Epics. 
At the same time the old 560 and Nelo Ocean Skis were tested.  The Nelo Oceanski range performed very similar to the V14.  The 560 was a little slower in the slow range (-0.2kmhr average) in the 11 - 12.5 kmhr range.  At 13kmhr and up the 560 tended to be a little faster than the V14, and top speed was a over 1 kmhr faster sitting at 18.5 - 19kmhr.
The big difference in paddling feel was the ability for the 560 to change speed.

The new testing was done compared to the old 560, both being tested in same conditions and same paddlers.  The new 560 showed its self to be faster than the old 560 in the slower ranges (10.5 - 12.5kmhr).  The new 560 was then very similiar to the old 560 over the speeds of 13 - 15 kmhr.
The new 560 hit the same top speeds as the old 560 but typicaly lacked a little of the acceleration.




On Boat wash and wind chop
The new 560 is fast and predictable as it lifts onto runners, the reduced rocker enables the bow to stay down and the slightly wider profile lifts earlier and pushes the boat forward with less effort than before.  We would argue the old 560 was probably one of the quickest and easiest boats to pick up runners, and the new one is probably even better at this.  The trade off is that you need a little more rudder once on the runs and this is just a slight adaption required. No doubt as mentioned before the rudder and rope combination also contributes to this aspect.  It is certainly not a criticism however, just a difference in how it behaves.













The "No.4" build (WWR) is a carbon | carbon-kevlar weave outside , foam core.  It comes in standard colours and is around the 10kg- 11kg weight range. 

The "No.7" build (SCS) is more carbon and nomex core-   It is stiffer than the No.4 and lighter, weight range 8 - 9 kg.  A heavier paddler (85kg plus) who is very experienced may notice a stiffness difference between the two builds when the boat is pitching, otherwise the stiffness difference cannot be felt.  Certainly both builds are very stiff and light.  The other difference is that this top of the range build is available in custom colours / designs.



The 560 comes in two paddler weight sizes.

the 560 is typical surfski paddler size, and is suitable for 80kg plus , up to 120kg.  It has a wider cockpit and seat plan as well as longer cockpit leg length.


The MEDIUM 560 is for sub 80kg paddlers, it is a genuinely small boat, and the leg length , tighter cockpit and different hull enables the smaller framed paddlers to find a great position. 


Landed into Australia the No.4 is $5100 and the No.7 is $5900.  Nelo Australia will be carrying stock and custom order delivery times are dependant on order schedules , both from Australia and out of Nelo international.











If the old 560 was good for 5% of the paddling market for open water then this new boat will arguably be suitable for the vast majority.  Anyone considering an elite ocean ski would be most suitable for the 560.  The stability is very similar to the alternatives but it has possibly a lot more to offer.
The shorter length and more responsive acceleration makes paddling more dynamic and feels more fun.


More Review and Pics
The authors on a small motor boat wash, Pittwater Sydney.










About the Authors
Cameron McFadzean (K1 500m Atlanta Olympics, K4 2000 Olympics), 87 kg and 188 cm tall.
Leda McFadzean (K1-K4 Aust Team in the 1990's) , 60kg and 168cm tall.

The authors are ex Olympic class paddlers, although long retired ....   We provide coaching and performance analysis for paddlers and provide un-biased and professional advice regarding paddling equipment to our athletes and clients.  Design feedback is provided to a range of manufacturers and designers.  Based on extensive design review and feedback Nelo supports our coaching with the assistance of craft.  We also have purchased several Nelo craft in the past few years.
We take pride in remaining  and offering independent advice.  If you come and see us and we think a Fenn Swordfish for instance is the boat for you then we will say so.




Would you like to have a paddle ?



Nelo Australia offer





Performance Paddling offer a custom fit and analysis where we anaylise your current paddling and current boat and assist with speed and setup review of both sizes of 560's. This is a $100 fee for this evaluation service and the cost can come off the purchase price of the boat. contact us.



email :
current @ 2016-05-13