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Nelo: a proud history of Olympic innovation

Nelo Cinco developed for the Rio Olympics 2016

The Olympic Games Gold: the inspiration and the goal

Nelo uses the four year cycle of the Olympic games to focus each leap forward in kayak design. Each new model is developed to a schedule that allows the athlete and boat to hit peak performance levels at the Olympic games.

Many boat makers with the successful track record of Nelo Kayaks would be tempted to rest on their on their laurels. But Nelo's core philosophy of constant innovation means the Portuguese manufacturer is always looking for the next revolution in boat design.

The cycle of research and development, prototyping, testing, iteration, manufacture, and of course athlete training comes together to make each Olympic Games Canoe Sprint competition better and faster than the last.


The results are in: Cinco rules the Rio 2016 Olympics

Rio Olympic results graph showing medals won by Nelo

Nelo continued it's medal winning trend at the Rio Olympics capturing far more medals than any other kayak brand. Nelo is proud too have won 8 Gold, 9 Silver and 10 bronze medals. Outstanding!

Most of the awards were taken by Nelo Cinco, the newest model kayak, and other the Nelo Quattro. Read about Nelo's history of innovation at the Olympics below.



2000 Sydney Olympics: Nelo Mosquito

The original innovator

 Rene Poulsen of Denmark racing a Nelo K1 MosquitoRene Poulsen of Denmark racing a Nelo K1 Mosquito


For the Olympic Games in Sydney, Nelo decided to take everything they had learned from years of research and testing and try a new approach to boat building.

We placed the stitch width along most of the athlete's body and adapted the top of the boat, so that we can reduce the volume. Nuno Ramos

The boat was significantly narrower, closer to the athlete’s body, so it was more comfortable to paddle and less affected by crosswinds.

It was so different that the athletes themselves needed a lot of convincing to try it. But it worked. The result was the Nelo Mosquito, the boat that made the International Canoe Federation throw out the rule book and abolish the rule of the minimum width. It also put Nelo Kayaks on the map.


2012 London Olympics: Nelo Quattro

The most successful racing kayak of all time

The Nelo Quattro release video show how technologically advanced it is.

Highly spec’d technically advanced, the Nelo Quattro was developed for the London 2012 Olympics. Since it's release, the Nelo Quattro has been raced to win most major championships and made several world record times – too many to mention.

Ok, maybe we’ll just mention Lisa Carrington’s 2014  K1W 200m world record time of 37.898 seconds at the ICF World Sprint Champs in Russia.



2016 Rio Olympics: Nelo Cinco

The fastest Nelo kayak yet

75% of Sprint Kayak athletes at the Rio Olympics will be racing Nelo Cinco Kayaks. New Zealand’s own Lisa Carrington will be racing a K1 Cinco, and the NZ Women’s K4 Team will race the K4 Cinco.


Watch Nelo CEO, André Santos discuss the design development of the Nelo Cinco. 

Released in February 2015, Nelo had been working closely with athletes and their trainers to produce simply the fastest boat possible. Great results at the 2015 and 2016 show the Nelo Cinco athletes are now intimately familiar with the boat which should help produce some awesome race times.

While the Cinco looks completely different from previous boats, Nelo’s approach to boat building was consistent:

It has always been our purpose not follow trends, but create them. Only we continue to be leaders if we bring much new to the boating world.  Nelo founder, Manuel (‘Nelo’) Alberto Ramos

As with the Mosquito, the leap forward in design made paddlers a little apprehensive at first. The reduced width and shape reduces stability, but allows the paddler to get up to maximum speed much faster.

The Cinco responds differently – it wants to go forward instead of going sideways. It rocks less and propels forwards. At a good speed it sits on top of the water. I need to be aware and have confidence in where the boat moves and that I won’t tip out.
Lisa Carrington.

The Nelo Team are happy to announce Nelo boats won 75% of all possible medals at the 2016 Olympics in Sprint Kayaking. 8 Gold, 9 Silver and 10 Bronze medals, out of a total 36 possible medals. Congratulations to the athletes and our boat builders.



Crafted especially for the Olympians

You won’t see any dings in the Nelo Olympic boats: Nelo crafted brand new boats for every Nelo athlete to race at the olympics. Plus the SCS (Solid Composite System) construction, made from state-of-the-art carbon/kevlar materials moulded as a single piece, make the boats especially rigid and tough.

All the Nelo Olympic boats are custom painted with each athlete’s country colours and design. With over 100 countries racing Nelo Kayaks, it was a mammoth task! 

As with all big events, the Nelo International support truck will be at the games to help out should any accidents or technical events happen on the day. This gives extra peace off mind to the paddler and their support team.

Nelo look after me really well. Their communication, especially when I’m overseas is wonderful, and there’s a truck and base at every regatta. Stand out customer service - they’re fantastic. Lisa Carrington

Check out the Nelo Portugal Facebook page for news from inside the Olympic camp.


PLUS: Special Silver Fern edition Jantex Paddle for the NZ Olympic Team

The NZ Team also use Jantex Paddles. Each athlete chooses the type of blade and shaft length that best suits their stroke. The result is a custom paddle that maximises pull for power in the stroke.

NZ K4W Kayak Team and their Limited Edition Jantex Paddles
NZ K4W Kayak Team and their Limited Edition Jantex Paddles


Jan from Jantex has made a limited edition silver fern blade graphic to commemorate Rio Olympics. The silver fern is placed inside the paddle blade, under the top coating of epoxy resin to give longevity – and it looks amazing. Keep your eye out for them.