Today I found this very interesting article about Nelos new Surfski. I found it on Ultimate kayaks web site, a new company in UK providing wholesale and retail of both Nelo and Epic. The company is owned by Ivan Lawler, a multiple World Champion and three times Olympian.
Nelo are new to the surfski market but are certainly not new to testing their professionalism in a market that is not their traditional stronghold. Following their recent foray into the world of canoe slalom they are now taking on Epic and Fenn, the two big manufacturers in the surfski world.
So do the current big players have anything to worry about? Certainly Nelo can match anybody on build quality, they also have the geographical bonus of being European based giving them access to the fast growing European Surfski movement. It also means they can supply the fashion conscious buyer with bespoke designs and colours on their ski as can be seen from the ski they have given to Tim Brabants.
In reality though, the only way into a market is to produce a ski that does the job, the rest is just icing on the cake. Doubtless the Nelo ski will go through a rapid evolution as feedback comes in from the early customers, and that is one of Nelos main strengths, they do listen to the athletes.
Access to the bigger markets of SA and AUS will be tough, firstly through customer inertia and loyalty. In the flatwater scene Nelo have attracted virtually all of the big name athletes but in Ski racing most are already associated with either Epic or Fenn.
To collect the firt big name will be key to Nelos progress. There is rumour that Manuel Busto is going to concentrate on ski racing now and though he has not shown well yet in ski racing I can only imagine he will significantly improve over the next year, he may be their best bet.
Nelo will be sending a few skis to the Dubai Shamaal in a months time and it will be interesting to see how many of their current sponsored athletes turn up to race for them.
Tim Brabants is going but last years result was not exactly inspirational, perhaps Kenny Wallace will be their number one chance if he goes. Dont write off “Mr Nelo” himself Andre Santos, I know he is racing and is no slouch!
We hope to get the opportunity to test the new ski in the near future and will try to give the best feedback we can with the caveat that I am not exactly an expert in skis or ski testing, though if I can find a run on a ski then that ski has to be pretty good to counter my own lack of talent!
As with any new venture I think it will be a couple of years before Nelo really make inroads but I for one would not bet against them.
Their skis will come in two constructions WWR and their top spec E, the WWR will weigh about 10.5kg and the E 9kg. Prices will be set in line with the Nelo sea kayaks.