All in all, a good performance boat for the smaller paddler with some design quirks. Grayson is excellent with regard to customer service issues so high points there.
Nemo had a wonderful finish, its really light, bright orange color for visibility, nice rudder now its retractable (which was much needed). This boat is fast and its easy for even a beginner like me to keep up with pros. The kayak is a good fit, I am 5'10", 160 pounds. The seat does not have a back band, and the first time I paddled it, my abdominal muscles were hurting. So I placed some foam blocks behind the seat which worked great.
The boat is hard to turn, the reason its so fast since it has minimal rocker. But I never need to make sharp turns in open water. I use Seal neoprene 1.4 size spray skirt which works great. The hatches are made of nice rubber and provide a good seal. The hatches are not tethered to the boat, I am not sure if that makes a difference. Gray, the owner of the company, is very quick to respond to my emails and thus I get a quick personal response.
Bottomline: if you are looking for fast fun kayak, Nemo is top of the line. Happy paddling
I have previously owned an Epic 18x Ultra which suffered from poor Chinese construction. I understand Epic has since switched factories. It seems everyone has some trouble at the start with Chinese manufacturing. I ultimately sold the Epic, not because of its several manufacturing flaws, but because it just felt too large for me (5'6" 145lbs).
I keep careful training records and find that the Nemo is the equal of the Epic in speed and efficiency. All of my workouts in the Nemo lie along the same curve of heart rate (effort) and speed (time over 5k) as the Epic. So I gave up no speed and got a boat that is for me 50% more stable in rough water.
The rudder system appears to be designed for low drag and light weight. As such it is a bit of a compromise. It is good enough to offer course correction in cross wind and current and I like that it really does not add appreciable drag.
One final note, while the seat in the Epic is a real weak point (Epic replaced mine 3 times in one year due to failure of the forward connecting point - I suggest you put 1/4" close cell foam under each side to slow this process) the seat in the Nemo is a real plus. It is fairly flat but curves up just perfectly at the sides and back to allow for comfortable paddling without a back band. For trips of over 3 hours I may add a small foam block behind the seat to serve as a "touch point" for my lower lumbar to keep my form up.
In the end kayaks are very personal objects, almost like the clothes we wear. It is really important to find the one that fits you. For me, it is the Nemo.
It handles well and is faster than anything else I have paddled except maybe a surf ski. Even then, it comes close in speed. It is faster than my Kirton Tercel in flat water and the Nemo feels very secure and fast in rough water.
The Nemo is efficient and fast, looks sharp, seems to have good build quality so far, and the people at Kayakpro offer great customer service. I highly recommend the Nemo for the smaller paddler.
Honestly, the Nemo would not be my first choice for a tour along the North Sea islands, as the material is too delicate and also precious for such rough conditions, but it is also a nice boat for fast weekend tours along rivers, as the storage compartments are big enough for a tent, sleeping bag and mat, and some clothes.
I would give the Nemo a 10, but one problem was the fact that the hatch rims fell off when I received it, so I had to re-glue them. Even though paddlers are used to customize new boats for their special purposes and preferences (I added - and warmly recommend this - a pullbar to the footrest), what is there should be firmly fixed. The builders should laminate the rims to the deck, or use screws to fix the rims. Sikaflex alone may not be enough.
Nevertheless, this boat is really hot stuff, a racer disguised as sea kayak, but without being tippy or unmaneuvrable, quite on the contrary: when I go out with a downriver boat and then turn back to the Nemo, I feel like I'm in Abrahams lap.
I REALLY recommend this boat to Women and lighter male paddlers who love fast paddling and races. It is one of the best designs on the market, be sure ...
I do not feel qualified to comment on rough water handling, rolling, or other areas of kayaking that require more skill than my current level. I have spent nearly all my time on the water trying to improve my racing speed and feel the Nemo is stable and fast for me.It has taken me a few weeks to adjust to the gas peddle steering since my QCC 600 had no rudder.
I did a few triathlons in the Nemo over the last few weeks and finished not far behind the young bucks in the surf skis, thunderbolts, mohicana etc. Can cruise for 10 miles at 6.0 to 6.1 mph and a did a 4 mile hard effort at 6.5 mph a few days ago. This may not seem fast to more experienced racers but to a 60 year old beginner who weighs 145# is 5'8" tall it sure feels like a fast kayak
It has super easy to adjust seat and steering system. finish inside and out is very nice. I did have a problem with rudder cables coming loose but Grayson at Kayakpro was there to inform me on how to remedy the problem and told me all the new Nemos will be done that way at the factory.
I had tried thunderbolt but it felt to big and to tippy for me. I think the Nemo will make it possible for me to advance my skill and do some rougher water racing. A great boat for smaller paddlers.
Not a race boat disguised as a sea kayak, this is a true sea kayak that is purposely designed for fast and efficient paddling. It comes equipped with bulkheads, hatch covers, perimeter deck lines, carry toggles and foot pedal-controlled rudder. Even with all these standard “sea kayak” features this carbon/kevlar speedster weighs in at only 36 lbs. I can easily lift it on and off the car top alone. While not quite as light as my other KayakPro boat, the Jet, it is certainly lighter than just about anything in its class.
The Nemo is designed for the smaller/lighter paddler. At 5’9” 160lbs it feels just right. Larger paddlers may want to wait for the Marlin to be released which is the same basic boat in a slightly roomier version. It has an over-stern rudder that is operated by pivoting toe pedals attached to a solid, fixed foot brace providing nice support for good leg drive as a proper forward stroke requires. The whole foot pedal/support is easily adjusted as is the seat for a custom fit. The deeply molded seat is very comfortable and provides enough support that no backrest is needed. Note that the rudder cannot be raised or lowered from the cockpit however I believe this boat was designed to be paddled with the rudder deployed full-time and it does kick up in the event you make contact with an obstacle. This setup provides decent turning ability. While it may not “turn on a dime” it’s more than adequate for an 18 foot boat that’s designed for going straight and fast. Set on edge, the boat carves a turn nicely and has good response to lean and sweep strokes.
The unique and roomy cockpit design allows you to paddle with feet and knees together in a racing-oriented position to maximize leg drive or, when conditions warrant, to slip your legs under the molded-in thigh braces for more stability to assist bracing or rolling. My boat is equipped with Kajaksport hatch covers which provide an excellent seal.
The boat is designed to be fast and efficient through the water. At nearly 18 feet and only 21” wide (probably closer to 18” at the waterline) it is the fastest sea kayak for the small/medium paddler currently available. I’m not a particularly strong paddler, my background has been in distance running, but even so I averaged slightly over 6 mph for 5 miles and was not close to getting this boat up to its potential. Grayson at KayakPro paddled the Nemo to a first place at a recent race, beating all surf skis in the process, averaging over 7 mph! If you’ve got the engine this boat will really move. If racing is not your thing, it’s still nice to have a boat that can easily cruise at a faster pace than just about any other touring kayak on the water and allows you to cover more miles with less effort.
The really great thing about the Nemo is you don’t have to give up stability to get this speed. They have come up with a truly remarkable hull design that provides a wonderful combination of comfortable primary and great secondary stability. I have not had the opportunity to get out in big water conditions yet but have had it out on the Pacific in some moderate swells and it handled great. The sharp bow slices through waves and swells without excessive bouncing and there is enough volume in the bow to avoid getting swamped. Waves and boat wakes from the beam seemed to pass under the shallow-V hull without causing much tipping – a tribute to that great secondary stability. I discovered an added bonus to this stability is that it allows one to put more conviction into your rotation without the fear of losing balance. I’ve definitely improved my stroke technique paddling the Nemo.
Lastly, but most important, KayakPro has always been a joy to deal with. Grayson is a world class paddler and understands that’s not the only prerequisite to selling performance boats – he also provides first class customer service. All of my questions and concerns have received quick and insightful responses.
The Nemo will appeal to the intermediate to advanced paddler looking for a fast boat for competition or effortless touring. This boat will make you a better paddler. KayakPro has a real winner in the Nemo – its highly recommended. A real “10”.
My son is 11 and 95# . He flies in the boat and raced it twice. Even in windy conditions he still was able to maneuver effectively.
The boat is very light and stable. Every thing is well made and easy to adjust. My wife loves the gas pedal style rudder system. As for me, the boat is very fast and can cruise easily over 6.5 mph. Sprinting is over 9 mph and sustained race pace around 7 mph. It handles rough water very well.
This boat is a slam dunk! good for all ranges of paddlers. Great touring, surfing and racing kayak. Extremely well made boat.
The Nemo is a racer designed to fit within the sea kayak specifications of the USCA and USACK. It is 17’11.5” feet long, 21.5 at the widest and tips the scales at a whopping 36 pounds in full carbon. Most importantly for me, this boat is designed for the smaller, lighter paddler. If you don’t fall into the smaller category but like what you read hang on – the Marlin designed for larger paddlers will be released this fall.
At first glance the boat is a little schizophrenic – like it can’t decide if it is a race boat or a sea kayak. The bow and stern are nearly plumb to maximize water line and razor sharp to cut through the water. The foredeck has cut out sides to facilitate a close paddle catch. There is a nifty GPS holder right in front of the cockpit. The hull rounds quickly into a shallow-v resulting in a waterline width of something closer to 18”. All these features speak to the kayak’s racing inspired design. But the boat has bulkheads, nice and dry kayaksport hatch covers, deck rigging (a little minimal) and really nice thigh hooks.
Construction: The Nemo is available in several constructions. The standard glass/carbon weighs 44 lbs and the “racer layup” in full carbon is 36 lbs. My carbon boat is light and easy to carry – easier in fact than my 26 lbs Thunderbolt. The shorter Nemo is much less unweildy on shoulder and I can life the boat over head to put it on the car with ease.
Given its lightness I was a bit concerned about strength and stiffness. The front deck is really solid and there is no give around the cockpit. The rear deck has a small amount of flex. I stuff a foam pillar in there when not needing the storage space to provide a little extra structural support.
The interior of the boat is smooth with no sharp edges. The hatches stay dry while rolling. Neither hatch comes tethered to the boat so that was an early change also. You could probably stow enough gear for a fast and light weekend trip but not much more than that.
The Nemo comes standard with a gas pedal rudder system. It works fairly well and gives a nice solid foot brace for the knees center paddling position. The foot block is easily adjusted and there is a nifty little fine tuning adjuster in the cockpit for you to use if you think the rudder is pulling more one way than the other. I made and installed a pull bar into the foot plate to get better rotation.
Fit: Oh baby what a comfortable boat! The composite thigh braces are exactly where they should be for me – near my mid thigh when sitting in the boat and not way down by my knees. This leaves the front of the cockpit open so I can paddle knees center racer style. When I need to brace, roll or need more stability I can pop my legs back under the braces and be rock solid.
The seat also deserves special mention. It is a molded pan seat that is adjustable forward and back a bit like the Epics. What is different is the cupped sides and back which help hold you in the seat and eliminate the need for a back band. That means better rotation and easier to lay back to roll. For me it is still a little deep. I added a 1 inch skwoosh pad to it and now its great. My longest in boat time to date was 4 hours and I was as comfortable as could be.
Speed: Now I know you are all asking the same question – but is it fast? That will depend on the paddler, but yes it is fast. In calm conditions (i.e. no wind to push me one direction or the other), I can easily cruise at 5.2-5.5 mph , race pace paddle at 5.7-5.9 for good distance (10 miles) and in sprints get it in the 6-6.3 mph range. Now that might not seem impressive to some of you big guys out there but remember we’re talking about a 125 lbs female. That is pretty good for me.
But the boat is more than fast; it is fast, stable and sea worthy. What this means for me is that I can edge it nicely. The boat kind of settles onto those cut-out sides when way up on edge and spins around. It is rollable. Perhaps not “fancy Greenland style rolls rollable” but more along the lines of “knock me over by a big wave while I’m racing with my wing paddle and I’ll get up kind of rollable.”
It is also super stable, ok caveat that I’ve been paddling the Tbolt and K1’s lately. On a paddle down out on the Chesapeake last week we had 2 foot swells plus chop in other areas. The bow rode over the waves easily and dryly. Surfing down wind the boat accelerated quickly to catch waves and was stable in both following waves and side chop. During our water break I happily lounged near the lighthouse, sprayskirt off, knees up just hanging out. This boat will shine in open ocean/rough water races.
Another, perhaps priceless, feature of the boat is that people say I smile a lot while paddling it!
Gripes: As with any boat, I’ve got a couple of gripes. First, the rudder isn’t deployable from the cockpit. You need to put it up or down before getting in the boat. This is inconvenient. More than that though, if you snap a rudder cable or need to retract it for some reason while miles from shore it could be a safety issue. Also those “fine tuning” adjusters come with a price. It means that rudder doesn’t have one solid cable but is rather two cables joined by small brass crimpers. I already popped that clamp once on both sides.
Second, the hatch covers should be tethered down. Easy to put string on the front hatch and tie it off to the deck rigging but the back hatch is more difficult. The kayaksport hatch has a lash tab on the inside and there is nothing in the rear hatch to attach it too. I’m going to epoxy in a u-bracket somewhere in there.
Final Analysis: So far, I love the boat and recommend it to anyone looking for a racing kayak that fits sea kayak specs or to paddlers looking for a fast, fast touring boat and who will give it the care that a full carbon boat needs. If they fixed that rudder I'd give the boat a 10 and as it is now it is really close to one anyway!