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Surfski Gear Review - Nelo 510 (Plastic)

Updated: Feb 13, 2023

All input is appreciated so we can continue to structure these better! Currently we have Boat Specs, Measurements, Quality of Life, Stability Rating, Remount Rating, Flatwater Testing and Final Thoughts

I am 5ft 6 (167cm) and 140lbs (63.5kg) slightly above the intermediate skill level as a reviewer. I typically fit in all boats without issue but have a good general idea of a paddler being too big for a given vessel based on club members using boats.

The Nelo 510 is a plastic rotomold

surfski. These layups are nearly indestructible with a very high durability exterior that also flexes tremendously while retaining its original shape.

The trade off in this durability is the boats weight which comes in around 55lbs. This weight and added boat flex will impact its overall speed which we will discuss in the Flatwater Testing. This model was generously borrowed from a friend for this review. I have a total of 15 miles so far in this review but it gives me a lot of information to compare directly to the Spirit PRS model discussed here -

Nelo 510 Specs

16.7ft feet long x 21.6 inches wide (5.10m×54.8cm)

Bucket Depth 6inches 15.24cm

Bucket Width(Highest point) 15.5 inches wide 39.4cm

Bucket Width (Lowest point) 12.5 inches wide 31.75cm

Footplate length (Longest setting) 42 inches 106.7cm

Footplate length (Shortest setting) 26 inches 66cm

Heel Depth 8.5 inches 21.6cm

Hump Height Depth (highest point in cockpit) 5 inches 12.7cm

Boat weight for testing - 53.8 pounds 24.5kg

Nelo Understern Rudder 8 Inch 20.32cm

Outline Measurements from nose

15 inches from nose - 5 inches wide 38cm/12.7cm

30 inches from nose - 7.5 inches wide 76cm/19cm

45 inches from nose - 10 inches wide 114cm/25.4cm

60 inches from nose - 13.5 inches wide 152cm/34.3cm

75 inches from nose - 15.5 inches wide 190cm/39.4cm

Outline Measurements from tail

75 inches from tail - 20 inches wide 190cm/50.8cm

60 inches from tail - 19 inches wide152cm/48.3cm

45 inches from tail - 17 inches wide 114cm/43.2cm

30 inches from tail - 13.75 inches wide 76cm/34.9cm

15 inches from tail - 7.25 inches wide 38cm/18.4cm

Cockpit/Bucket Area

The footplate starts around 26inches/66cm and adjusts to 42.5in/110cm which fits a wide array of paddlers. The "hump" height is aligned to more modern surfskis with a very low profile rise in the cockpit, accounting for only 3 inches higher than the heel. This is great for comfort and allowing unhindered foot drive through the footplate. The bailer system is a Debrito style which drains the bucket quickly and is easy to operate with the heel while paddling. Given the width of the boat the cockpit is not as spacious as I would have assumed with only a 15.5inch/39.4cm opening. It sits fairly high with only 6inches/15.24cm of depth which adds some comfort. The rails on the side of the boat are nearly 3 inches / 7.5cm which helps add a lot of stability and makes remounting simple.

Quality of Life Details

There are carry handles on the bow/stern of the boat which are hard plastic fastened by two screws. There are center handles built into the plastic mould that make it easy to carry one handed. "Easy" relative to the balance point and a firm grip, but youll still feel all 50lb/24kg. The footplate uses the standard Nelo system which has a pin system. The pedals have to be adjusted manually to get the ideal tension, which is also a fairly simple procedure but is not instant and benefits from a second pair of hands on the rudder making sure it is straight. There are rubber stoppers on the bottom of the footplate to add stiffness/change the angle of the plate for leg drive. The rudder is held together by two allen key screws on a plate system, and Nelo has that allen key attached behind the footplate which is very handy! These boats come with hatches on the front and back that allow for a lot of extra storage.

Stability Rating: This is a true beginner stability boat, with only a handful of shorter wider boats available on the market in the surfski classification. It features a high seated position that can make it feel a little sporty in chop, but falling out of this boat would be a chore for someone who is not very tall or very heavy. The weight of the boat adds to its overall stability profile as well. With a very large tail outline, wide rails, and plastic construction: you can confidently put first timers in this boat with a high chance of success. The shape of the bucket makes it easy to feel "locked" in, which will make many beginners feel more confident if the conditions get turbulent.

(With all surfski your height, weight, age, current skill level and paddling environment will influence how each boat feels and that dynamic will continue to move back and forth on a spectrum forever. These ratings will give some insight into what the boats shape will do for rating as we begin comparing them to other similar model widths with different outline measurements. We will work towards numerical ratings as more reviews are completed to compare boat to boat on stability.)

Remount Rating: One of the easiest boats to remount! Like its stability rating this boat has a lot of forgiveness as you climb back into the bucket. There is plenty of space to hold on to with the wide rails. Pushing and pulling the body up is met with a slow response from the boat tilting back and forth which makes it great to move on. The high seat makes the transition into the bucket fairly seamless as well. Models like these are great to learn the remount procedure in before taking those skills to boats more difficult.

(Like Stability Ratings, we will rate remount ratings boat to boat as we complete more reviews. For now this boat is "easier to remount" than the reviewed Epic V8Pro.)

Flatwater Testing Overview: For all tests ongoing we will be using the format of 3 miles 4827m at a specific stroke rate. This lake has the same water depth annually for consistency, and the course is marked by 4 buoys that do not change position making it easy to run different boats on the course for cross analysis. The Stroke Rate goal is a submaximal 45SPM(This denotes double strokes, so 90SPM single strokes) with a margin of error for 1SPM 44-46spm. Noting boat weights and rudder sizes as potential future differences amongst similar shaped boats. This serves as a good general guide on boats that vary dramatically in width, but will also be fun to see how similar width boats compare and factoring in the outline measurements towards that.

Flatwater Testing - Very surprised with this boat compared to the Spirit PRS 570 on the flatwater test coming in at 9 seconds per mile faster. At a glance, this boat being 2 inches wider, the same weight, and having a very wide tail outline means it should be considerably slower. There are a few factors that are working with the Nelo 510 to overcome those speed losses. The first point is understern vs overstern rudders. The overstern is not as rigid of a system on the PRS as any understern system is comparatively. This changes the glide profile slightly and is one major difference between the two boats. The second is the nose profile is actually a touch narrower at entry than the PRS which helps it cut through flatwater very well. The nose does splash water at the very tip of the nose, and Nelo makes a Carbon Bow attachment to displace water even better, but I do not have one to try. Even with the standard nose its entry in the water helps its sustained glide. Finally I do believe its shorter length is a benefit with the boat being as wide and heavy as it is. More length can create more glide, but it can also be diminishing returns on trying to sustain that glide. The extra 2 feet of boat of the PRS is a wider nose profile so pushing it through the water isnt helping as much as hindering the already limited speeds. Making the boat shorter means you have to push less boat, and theres not going to be much glide created going longer because of the shape/layup. Ultimately you get a boat that is much more stable, has slightly better moving speeds, and is incredibly nimble being under 17ft/520cm in length in comparison to the PRS.

Final Thoughts: I enjoyed paddling this boat and found it very fun to compare directly to another plastic model. We will be testing the Epic V7 in a couple weeks to pit all 3 boats against each other. This boat is up to date with all the modern luxuries of surfski, and performs pretty well despite its wide specs. There is something to be said about the quality of the plastic used in these boats and how stiff they can be under pressure from paddling/rider weight. I would rate this boats layup as "thicker" than the PRS on the underside which may contribute to the performance and ongoing durability.

EDIT: 2-13-23 Downwind Thoughts: Had the chance to take this on a Tampa Bay downwinder before returning the boat. We had around 25mph sustained winds which build up a decent swell for us in Florida. This boat does fairly well in the bump being shorter it is very maneuverable. Being a smaller paddler it was tricky to lean back enough to keep the nose up so water would constantly come in over the top of the deck. Being so wide in the tail and so short in the front means the nose wants to go down quicker as the tail buoyancy is so great. This does not ruin the run by any means but the longer vessels having that extra length comes into play here, where the nose has enough volume to counter the tail more. Being taller or heavier allows you the leverages to lean on that imbalance more, but I could not manage to do it. That being said, this is an excellent option especially for someone new to downwinding to have a lower stress run in stability and keeping the boat from being damaged. The extra weight may inhibit catching swells, but if you start surfing that weight translates to extra momentum which makes it much easier to push into the next swell! Always play to the strengths of the boat, not the weaknesses.

Thank you all for checking out the article. If you have any questions about boats or our online coaching feel free to message anytime via Live Chat or my email

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