In my garage and basement I have my favorite skis. As usual it is a mix of advanced skis (Think Uno 2g, Ion 3G, Epic V12 2g, Stellar SEL 2G, Nelo 560M and intermediate skis( Nelo 550, Stellar SR 2G, SEI 2G, Think Evo 2, Evo 3). Of the advanced skis I have reviewed all of them on this site except the Uno 2g and the Nelo 560M though I have had these for almost a year now. So I can say with a high degree of confidence the stability and speed of the advanced skis.
However, the newer intermediate skis that I just purchased like the Nelo 550 and Think Evo 3, along with my faithful Stellar SEI 2G (2 Blackburns and more), I don’t yet have a definitive answer on speed and stability, though the picture with more time in each of these buckets is becoming clearer. To help tease the speed difference out on very flat bay conditions I time trialed the Nelo 550, Think Evo 3, and Stellar SEI 2g, back to back on my “Pier to Pier” .26 mile time trial course that I have done for years.
I started the first of two GPS/Video time trials with the Nelo 550 SCS(lightest) construction with the stock 7 inch surf rudder. Starting at the Pier heading north, I paddled hard for approximately 2 minutes. Then I casually paddled back to the beach (.26 miles), swapped to the SEI 2G Excel (25 lbs) with the 6 inch modified Stellar rudder and repeated the Pier to Pier .26 mile one way time trial. Then I repeated this with the Evo 3 Ultimate (22-23 lbs, lightest construction) with standard 7 inch rudder. I did this sequence twice so I time trialed each ski two times for a total of six times. The video lets you see the flat conditions and each ski except the Evo 3 since I did not have a Garmin mount for it. I have GPS data in this Pier to Pier time trial course on most of the skis I have reviewed since 2003. Most often when I get a new ski, I immediately do this very short time trial to get a sense of its speed both up and back. This is just one of my time trial courses that range from .26 miles, to 1.62 miles, to 6.4 miles, to 11.54 miles on the Sakonnet River which is really like a small bay that leads to the the ocean 6 miles from my put in at McCorrie Point where I live. One sequenced back to back time trial is not all inclusive but with more time trials of each ski on the same courses, I can say with a high degree of confidence the speed of each ski. The video below is boring but I wanted to give real context to the time trials. A lot of work goes into this process: buying the skis, paddling them is the easy part. Documenting with GPS, video, downloading, uploading, searching for files, editing video(mega time), editing photos, then putting it all together in with an article. I do enjoy it though and hope this helps you.
So I was excited to see the outcome. My prediction was that my SEI 2G with excellent glide would be the clear winner. I have hundreds of miles on this ski over the past two years including 2 Blackburns, Ride the Bull and Double Beaver Races. With a change of rudders, I can paddles this ski any conditions, rough to flat and feel confident I am not giving up too much speed to the advanced skis but gain in stability. I rated this ski as the fastest intermediate ski on the market.
A few years ago I time trialed the Evo 2 Ultimate, SEI 2G, and SR 2G back to back similar to this time trial. The Evo 2 was the slowest of this trio. I have had an Evo of every generation off and on in my garage since 2007 when Think was formed. I am very fond of the ergonomic seating, micro footplate adjustment and big water capability. The Evo 3 is an improvement over the Evo 2 with a less pronounced hump, more narrow catch and some tweaking of the hull. I only have 20 miles on my Evo 3 with all of those in ocean conditions. So based on my Evo 2 flat water time trials and races over the years I was pleasantly surprised that the Evo 3 Ultimate is a faster ski than the Evo 2. Since I have both, I will time trial these back to back, but thus far I am very pleased with my Evo 3 on flat water and in the ocean.
Lastly the Nelo 550 SCS finally made it way to my garage by way of Elite Ocean Sports and Fast Paddler.com I have read much about the Nelo 550 so I was really eager to get my own and put it through the paces. I currently have approximately 40 miles on it with other time trials. I have paddled it in most conditions except very rough water since it is winter here in New England. My full review will be posted in a few weeks but safe to say this innovative ski can hold its own despited its short and comfortable stature. With a low volume bow, super comfortable seating, and smooth manners in most conditions, and the Legend himself at the helm of Nelo Surfskis, (Oscar), the Nelo 550 is making waves.
There are many more intermediate skis like the ever popular V10 Sport, Fenn Swordfish, and others. These I time trialed happen to be my favorites based on a combination of factors.
So the results below may pleasantly surprise some of you like it did me. As you can see from the data, there is virtually no difference in my time trials of these skis in regards to speed, at least on the short run. It may take small downwind conditions to tease out how fast these skis are in comparison to each other. I know the excellent rough water stability of the SEI, and am fairly confident of the handling of the Evo 3 Ultimate in all conditions, but it will take me a few more paddles in the Nelo 550 in rough conditions to form my opinion. (Full Review coming soon). Remember the other major factors in choosing a skis beside just stability(major) and speed: 1)what is your goal in paddling 2) what conditions do you paddle most often in 3) your skill level and age 4) Fit, Fit, Fit 5) budget 6) will you own more than one ski 7) Build Quality 9) Brand loyalty.
There are many great skis to choose from now unlike seven or eight years ago. The competition among brands has yielded the paddling consumer many great choices in every category of skis from the recreational, novice, intermediate, and advanced categories. So enjoy the choices, support the brands, sponsorships and the paddling community as a whole so we can all grow together.
Think Evo 3 Ultimate with stock 7 inch rudder and bailer
Length: 20′ 6″ (625 cm)
Width: 18.5″ (47 cm)
Weight: 23 lbs(10.5 kg)
Stellar SEI 2G Excel with 6 inch modified Stellar rudder and venturis and no drain stoppers.
Length: 20ft(Length: 20′ / 6.1 m
Beam: 18.1″ / 46 cm
Weight: 25.6 lbs(11.6 kg)
Nelo 550 SCS with Stock 7inch surf rudder and bailer.
Length: 18ft (550cm), 5.5 meters
Width: 18.11 inches, (46 cm)
SCS/7: 10–11kg (22-24lbs)