Recreation and Training

112323IMG_1220IMG_1143888IMG_1223IMG_1122IMG_1131IMG_1138GP WingIMG_1157IMG_1165IMG_1188IMG_1194TurboIIwing-on-fjordTurboIIWing2IMG_0977IMG_0970IMG_0976IMG_0980
112323IMG_1220IMG_1143888IMG_1223IMG_1122IMG_1131IMG_1138GP WingIMG_1157IMG_1165IMG_1188IMG_1194TurboIIwing-on-fjordTurboIIWing2IMG_0977IMG_0970IMG_0976IMG_0980
3d Carousel jQuery by WOWSlider.com v1.5
Sadly VirusBoats went into receivership in 2013. However, you may be able to pick up one of these robust little boats second hand. Register in our used boat section if this is what you want. LiteBoat is the most atractive, modern equivalent for sea use with much better performance characteristics. However, the TS515 training scull is a much cheaper alternative for use on rivers.

First Name *
Email *


If you haven't already watched the video on the left then please watch this first as it gives a helpful overview.

Watch the video for an introduction to the different types of rowing boat.

Steve Walker has 40 years experience of rowing and coaching and he sums up in simple language why you might choose one rowing boat over another.

VirusBoats Turbo II Classic polyethylene single sculling boat with sliding seat

A single scull that's great for recreational rowing or serious training.

Classic and Wing models

More broad abeam than most sculling boats, the VirusBoats Turbo II is stable in bay, lake and river waters.

Made of tough polyethylene, the VirusBoats Turbo II is unsinkable and 95% self-bailing.

VirusBoats Rowing Sculls

The Turbo II Classic incorporates a traditional sliding seat, and adjustable foot stretcher and a fixed wing rigger and oarlocks.

Fast, affordable recreational sculls.

VirusBoats Turbo II Classic is now sold in white.

The Turbo II Wing employs a fixed seat and a sliding wing rigger linked to the foot stretcher.  This concentrates the rower's effort for maximum propulsion.

The VirusBoats Turbo II delivers a great price-performance value.

What can I do with this innovative boat?

Almost anything.  You can do things with this boat you would never even contemplate with a fibreglass boat.  It opens up a whole new range of opportunities for fun and excitement that previously were the preserve of canoeists and surfers.  The Turbo II is truly a "go anywhere" boat. It is resilient and robust, yet lightweight and manoeuvrable. It is wide enough and stable enough for you to do outrageous things with it, yet it is slim enough to be fast and hence it is very rewarding to propel under your own power.

Oops a weir!

Click image for Video.

Will it go straight?

Going in a straight line has always proved a problem for beginners in sculling boats.  Experienced scullers in 8m long fine racing boats with the fin near the stern do not have the problem.  But early attempts at, much shorter, play boat design resulted in boats that one could only describe as washing up bowls with riggers on them.  It was virtually impossible to get them to go in a straight line.  The Turbo II, on the other hand, is a proper boat shape and it has a skeg at the stern which really helps you to keep it going straight.

The skeg is just one of a host of clever design features in the Turbo II.  The skeg does not project below the flat part of the hull because it is in line with the underbelly of the boat.  This means that when you put the boat on the ground you have no fear of damaging the skeg.

Turbo II Wing on Fjord
How fast is the Turbo II?

Well obviously it cannot be as fast on flat, calm water as a fine racing scull which is only 28cm (11in) wide and is 8m long.  The speed achievable in a boat is related to its aspect ratio, the ratio of length to width.  This is why warships are made much slimmer than cargo ships.  At 60cm the Turbo II is about twice the width of a typical racing single scull and it is only 4.80m long so it will fit easily in a garage or on a car roof.  But compare this to a typical yacht tender's dimensions of 1.3m wide by 4m long and you will understand what we mean when we say the Turbo is fast.  The speed of a hull is also affected by the sharpness of the bow and you can see that the Turbo II is sharp.  Add to this the ability to use the whole body, legs and all, because of the sliding gear and you begin to realise the potential for speed in this exciting boat.

How stable is the Turbo II?

Well it is not as stable as a ship.  It is not as stable as a VirusBoats Yole
because it is narrower than the Yole.  However, the Turbo II is inherently stable. You can sit in a Turbo II without oars and it will not roll over.  This is because the bottom of the hull in the Turbo II has a flat part to it and the boat is wide enough (60cm) that this has a stabilising effect.  I would say it is more stable than a "restricted scull" or a "Tracer" for those of you who remember those designs.  It is a little more stable than the fast, fibre glass Turbo Skiff.  And, of course, it is a lot more stable than a fine, shell, racing scull.

A fine, racing scull is inherently unstable. You cannot sit in a racing scull without oars.  It is just impossible.  Actually you cannot really sit in a racing single at all.  You sit on it. The sculler needs oars in a racing scull like a tight-rope-walker needs a pole.  The handles must be kept at a constant height relative to each other.  This way the oars provide a similar inertia to the tight-rope-walker's pole and slow down the rolling of the boat between strokes so that the chances of losing balance in between strokes is greatly reduced.


This requires a very high degree of skill, which is not what the Turbo II is all about.  The Turbo is a boat designed for having instant fun in, without the necessity for years of coaching.

Another feature that separates to Turbo II from your typical racing boat is the height of the deck in the cockpit. In a racing boat the deck is above the waterline so it feels tippy when you step into it.  In the Turbo II, however, the deck is below the waterline, at the bottom of the boat, so you feel much more confident when you step in and out.

There is also room for you to put both feet side by side in a Turbo so you can stand up with both legs at once.  In a racing boat you have to stand up on one leg only!  If you do not think this is significant just try doing a single leg squat.  Were you able to get up with just the one leg after you squatted down? Well done if you did - not many people can do that.  But you appreciate the significance of being able to put both feet on the deck now, don't you?

Can it sink?

Not really?  The cockpit is 95% self bailing.  As you row along any water that has got into the cockpit sloshes out over the low stern quite easily. A big wave swamping the boat will not send it to the bottom.  The design draws on early lifeboat design with a double hull trapping air in between the hulls to provide buoyancy.  The hull would have to be punctured and a lot of water leak in the void between the inner and outer skins before the boat could sink.  The polyethylene is so tough and resilient that this is extremely unlikely.

You would have to dash the boat extremely viciously against very sharp rocks for that to happen.  Most knocks and bumps can be absorbed by the hull with no discernible damage.  Most knocks that would puncture or crack a fibreglass hull will be unlikely to hurt the Turbo II.  So it is really a safe boat to be in.  You can biff and bash things accidentally with little consequence.

How do I repair the hull if it does get damaged?

This is easy as pie.  You simply have to melt some plastic onto it that has a lower melting point than the plastic that the hull is made from.  I have heard of some Australians who used the wrapper from a six pack of beer cans for such a repair.

Why are there two versions?

Short boats such as these tend to pitch fore and aft as the rower slides forwards and backwards during each stroke when using a sliding seat.  This means that the bow and stern dip alternately into the water.  This slows the boat down. Rowing on open water, experienced scullers will time their strokes to match the frequency of the waves so that the waves are easier to get over and boat is not slowed too much.

One way to solve this problem is to have the sculler sit still in one position on a fixed seat and to provide a sliding rigger attached to the foot stretcher.  Full use of the legs may still be made but the full weight of the sculler is no longer shifting forwards and backwards each stroke.  The motion is much smoother and the boat hardly pitches at all.

Turbo II Wing

There is another advantage to this design.  With a sliding seat the hull speed variation during each stroke cycle is quite considerable.  There is a momentum exchange between the rower and the boat.  The rower, whilst sliding towards the stern gives up some momentum to the hull making the hull go quicker through the water than it would if the sculler had remained stationary.  However, when the sculler changes direction at the beginning of the stroke there is a dramatic fall in the hull speed.

Turbo II Classic (sliding seat)

With a sliding rigger, however, this hull speed variation is minimised and the overall average speed is consequently greater.  At the world rowing championships in the early 1980's all the fastest scullers used sliding riggers.  Then FISA, the world rowing authority banned them from international races to save poorer countries the cost of replacing their entire boat stock.

So the Turbo was optimised for sliding riggers.  However, the rowing clubs saw the Turbo II as an ideal boat in which to teach beginners and they wanted sliding seats rather than sliding riggers.  Hence the two designs.

Turbo II Classic is ideal for teaching novices

Our recommendation.

If you are a rowing club then buy the "Classic" sliding seat version unless you expect to have to accommodate some big people.  If you are a heavy person, more than 80kg say, then the pitching of the boat might present a problem so we recommend the sliding rigger of the "Wing" version.  If you are light, between 40kg and 80kg then the "Classic" is cheaper but the "Wing" will still be faster.

Can I take a passenger?

Not a full size one!  The boat is designed as a single but there is room for a small dog in the stern!

What tools will I need with the boat?

You will need a 13mm spanner to attach the rigger to the "Classic" model with the four bolts provided.

This compares favourably to the conventional racing single which has usually four bolts per rigger and two separate riggers.  The rowing pins complete with oarlocks have to be attached to the rigger when you first receive the boat and this requires two 19mm spanners.  After that they should require no adjustment.

Another of the clever design features of the Turbo II, indeed the whole VIRUSBOATS range, is that the stretcher requires no tools for its adjustment. Moreover, once the stretcher position is set, it cannot slip whilst you are rowing unlike some designs found in other recreational rowing boats; not to mention some racing boats.

How easy is it to carry?

The boats come with cleats fore and aft to which we recommend you attach some kind of strap or toggle.  The boats can then easily be carried by two people.  For one person to carry a 27kg boat is not so easy.  It can, however, readily be dragged up a beach by one person and the polyethylene material lends itself to this sort of treatment.

But to lift or carry it any distance on your own we would recommend that you remove all the bits and pieces of rigging that you can, the seat, the stretcher and the rigger.  Then it is quite manageable.

There is an alternative for the single user.  That is to invest in a Turbo Trolley.

With this cunning and inexpensive device you can convert your boat into a wheelbarrow.  Placing the Turbo on this trolley it can be wheeled any distance.

The hard way!  Turbo Trolley
The easy way.

Can I choose my boat colour?

Not with the Turbo II.  At the design stage yellow was chosen for safety reasons so that the boat could easily be seen at sea in a rescue situation.  You notice how well it shows up in this aerial shot.  However, the rota-moulder stated that for technical reasons from 2004 all boats would be in white.

  Aerial view of Turbo II

What oars (sculls) should I choose?

Any conventional racing sculls will be suitable for the Turbo II if you or your club already has some to spare.  The span (distance from pin to pin) is 160cm as are most conventional racing sculls.  If you are buying new then we recommend the Sport 300 which is a modern design with a moulded plastic, Macon shaped blade mounted on a lightweight aluminium shaft. They are fitted with wooden handles for durability and comfort and have plastic sleeves with adjustable buttons so that you can alter the leverage of the oar to your personal preference.

However, for ultimate performance choose the fully adjustable carbon/composite sculls with big blades (hatchet shaped or similar).

Customer Feedback

I am impressed by the elegance and simplicity of the Turbo II wing. It is a well balanced compromise between custom made and standard components that ensures low costs and easy exchange of parts.

Transition from Yole to Turbo II started wet and a bit nerve-wrecking. This summer my persistence has been rewarded. I now use the slimmer boat for most trips, but still need the all-weather capabilities of the Yole when the fjord turns choppy.

Marius Nygaard

Yole in foreground with Turbo II Wing beyond

Very pleased with the boat. I am really enjoying it. It's proving ideal for gaining confidence on the water without the constant fear of falling in. It's also not so stable as to lack feel and this is helping me to improve my balance and technique. Many thanks for the overall great service.

Paul Mison

I'm far less experienced than yourself. In my 20's, I spent 3 years rowing from the beginning to a second place in France Universitary competition (8 in which I was n3). On the last year, we were rowing 2 hours every day (skipping the lunch) and 5 hours on Saturday and Sunday. Very often we suffered (mainly practicing with a yole on the sea) but for near 50 years, I have been waiting the opportunity to feel again this unique joy that you describe so well: "The effort has been done and another effort is to come but the glide in between the strokes is effortless. Yes this is probably it. This is where the joy comes from." And as far as I'm concerned, I had also a visual pleasure: the perfect (when the strokes had been perfect) round traces remaining on the water between the glides.... And naturally, also the sound when (unfortunately not always) the 8 strokes absolutely synchronized! Well after your last message, I decided for a Turbo II wing and for the first time after exactly 46 years, I tried rowing again on a very quiet morning. Wow, it was much more difficult than I had thought: the first strokes were awful, the equilibrium uncertain, getting out of the water not clean, passage of the hands very hard (I hadn't ever sculled with a scull in each hand) ... After two hours, it was still quite ugly however, I was able to get some pleasure, to relax and keep the skiff balanced for some yards. I spoke of my test with such enthusiasm that my wife who, as tired of the kayak, told me she would like to try my virus! For the last 5 days we had 5 to 7B winds and the skiff remained dry but I'm waiting impatiently the next session. It's always a pleasure reading your mails. Unfortunately, my spoken English is so rusted that I'm not able to understand your videos. If some day you had subtitles (not necessarily in french) I could enjoy them. Anyway many thanks for your boosting messages. Kind regards


Quick Summary of the Turbo II

  • 60cm beam for great stability with good performance

  • Great price-performance ratio

  • Unsinkable

  • Tough, maintenance-free hull and rigging

  • Rigging adjusts without tools in less than a minute

  • Adjustable foot stretchers

  • Uses aluminium sport or  fibre racing oars

  • 95% self-bailing cockpit

  • Large storage compartment in bow

  • Fore and aft cleats

  • Transportable on car roof

Virus Turbo II Classic Ideal beginners boat. Fun and robust.
Virus Turbo II Wing Faster. Accommodates heavier rowers because it does not pitch.
hull: anti UV treated polyethylene
colour: only available in white (no longer yellow)
rigging: Classic Sliding seat, adjustable stretcher and fixed, wing-mounted swivelling oarlocks.
  Wing Fixed seat with swivelling oarlocks on sliding wing-rigger attached to sliding foot-stretcher.
length: 4.80m
beam: 0.60m
weight: 32kg
recommended oars (sculls): 300cm aluminium macon or adjustable carbon/glass hatchet
A single scull that's great for recreational rowing or serious training.
TS515 Training Scull LiteBoat Yole d'Aboville Yolette Kataram TurboSkiff Sailing Trimarans Contact
Ahoy-Boats, 36 Salmon Leap, Chester, CH4 7JJ, United Kingdom. Contact Us.