Versatile and Fun

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VirusBoats went into receivership in 2013. However, you may be able to pick one up second hand. Register in our used boat section if this is what you want. LiteBoat is the most atractive modern equivalent with much better performance characteristics.

"We all love our new Yole, so thank you for getting it for us so quickly. The cadets and staff think it is fantastic and get afloat as often as possible. We raced it for the first time at the end of June with two mixed crews and picked up two Silver medals. (Only just beaten by less than a metre on the line - we'll get them next season)!"

Coventry Sea Cadets

I have a Yole that I bought from you some years ago. I use it on lake Windermere at least twice a year for 2 weeks when I rent a cottage there with direct access to the lake. The boat keeps me safe in the roughest of conditions on the lake, so it delivers on your claims.

Keith Mackey

"I've been enjoying the Yole, both as a double and a single. Getting back into 'proper' sliding seat rowing in a decent boat has been the best thing I've done for years. Although I've sailed on the broads on and off all my life, it's only during the last few months that I've explored the rivers thoroughly, simply because of the relative ease and speed of the Yole. Longest outing was Norwich to Yarmouth - 27 miles and seven hours, but typically 10 or so miles in an evening is easily attainable...although the nights are closing in. Next stop is to get out so sea off the North Norfolk coast."

Dr John Alison

What can you do with this incredibly versatile boat?

Well you could row it 800km from Dakar to the Islands of Cape Vert.  One brave Yole owner, Bruno Vogin, completed this feat in just 11 days, on his own, (only accompanied by his monkey). He had 3 capsizes.... and lived to tell the tale!

Click to enlarge

VirusBoats Rowing Sculls

Fast, affordable, recreational sculls.

The less adventurous might simply wish to paddle lazily around on balmy summer evenings with a bottle of champagne and a punnet of strawberries.

Picture of polyethylene VirusBoats Yole Club being rowed as a single on open water

We are surrounded by so much water and yet we venture out on it so seldom.  Such a beautiful leisure resource has been crying out for a boat like this so that everyday people may take advantage of it.

Just imagine yourself rowing around Iceland in one.

Then again...
Kjarten Hauksson during his circumnavigation of Iceland in a Cool Yole!

Water can be either relaxing or exhilarating and the VirusBoats Yole can cope with either.

So whether you are...

  • an adrenaline junky looking for thrills and spills,

  • a fitness freak looking for yet another form of daily exercise,

  • an 'old blade' (a master) or 'wet bob' looking to rejuvenate your body & soul by taking up rowing again,

  • an individual, a couple or a family wanting a fun boat for holidays and weekends,

  • an open water enthusiast seeking water born adventure,

  • an endurance athlete wishing to train your whole body,

  • a countryside lover wishing to promenade on water,

  • a coastal rower, a river rower or a touring rower,

  • a rowing club wishing to introduce rowers to the sport of sculling,

  • a school wanting to introduce children safely to the sport,

  • an outdoor pursuits centre looking for an additional activity,

  • a yacht owner wanting an ecologically sound tender,

  • old or young or something in between

....then the VirusBoats Yole is the boat for you.  It is so versatile it can fulfil any of these objectives and many more besides.


Versatile or what!

Three boats in one, a single, a double or a single with a passenger seat.  And the beauty of it is that it takes only a moment to change the boat from one mode to another.  No tools required.  Simplicity personified!

What more could you ask from a recreational rowing boat?

You can use it on your own when you want to get away from it all.  Or you can take a passenger with you.  Or you can share the rowing with a partner.  A joy shared is a joy doubled!


Could I manage a Yole on my own?

This is a very social boat.  You can have endless fun in it with friends or members of your family, young and old.  But it does not have to be used that way.  You can easily take it out on your own.  There is a range of trolleys and trailers that enable you easily to manhandle a Yole on your own.
Club Trolley

What is it like to row a Yole?

The idea of having a sliding seat in a rowing boat goes back a century or so.  Before that crews used to polish their seats to be able to slide freely on them because using the legs produced more power than just using the back and arms.  So the Yole's 100% "sliding seat" system generates smooth thrust and efficient workouts. 

Rowing is renowned for the benefits it brings to the whole body.  Rowing machines have become very popular in health clubs and are used extensively for training in sports clubs such as rugby clubs. The military love them, especially where space is limited such as on warships.

So with a Yole you can get all the benefits of rowing on a machine but with the added pleasure of gliding through water.  Better still you can share that pleasure with somebody and begin to experience the bond that crew rowing creates.
   Yole on the crest of a wave

Owner's opinions

"I love it, existing as I do yards from the glorious, but rugged Northumberland coast through the summer months. I've done some lengthy voyages ( my wife decided a GPS was in order for Christmas ) and among other uses the Yole is ideal for fishing and even hauling my lobster pots ( I was even checked over by the MAFF fisheries patrol boat in August. There was a look of disbelief on their faces as I hauled a pot aboard! ). In short, I love it."


"I wanted a boat that would be at home on a Scottish sea loch where we have a weekend cottage - easy for a novice to handle, easy to launch, stable, and fast enough to row against tidal currents. The Yole Class fits the bill perfectly. Even the local fishermen admit to being 'quite impressed'. I bought a single, but after two outings as a passenger my wife was hooked too - now we fight over who has the oars, and we have a kit on order to convert it to a double. I can't recommend it too highly".


We're still having great fun with our Yole - on the Thames last week and we took it to Norfolk last year - rowed round the Broads


It is no longer possible to order one of these lovely boats. Sorry.
This page has been left here for information only.


Yole Choices

Not only can the Yole be used in three different modes,
  • single,
  • double and
  • single with passenger
  • but also it is available in three different classes
  • Yole Club,
  • Yole Class,
  • Yole Custom

  • Yole Club

    The VirusBoats Yole Club is made from tough polyethylene so it is virtually indestructible. This makes it ideal for use in a club environment where the users are not the owners and are likely to be a little less careful with the boat than they would be if it were their own boat.  It is also ideal for the private owner who anticipates that the boat will receive rough treatment or where underwater hazards are likely to be encountered. You can accidentally bif and bash your way around in a Yole Club without fear.  The hull is very resilient.

    The Yole Club is also the cheapest boat in the Yole range.  So it makes good economic sense for many buyers.  Of course, there have to be drawbacks, don't there?  With a hull weight of 60kg it is heavier than the fibreglass boats so you really do need a trolley if you have to manhandle it any distance, especially if on your own.  The hull is so well made that it is almost as shiney as the fibreglass hulls.  Its extra weight makes it only a little slower in the water.  Finally it is only available in white.  But overall the boat is just as much fun as the more expensive fibreglass and carbon boats and it is excellent value.

          Rowing around Belle Ile in a Yole Club

    Yole Class

    The Yole Class also comes only in white but it is made from fibreglass and vacuum infised polyester resin so it is both strong and lightweight. It has a smooth, glossy, tough, gel-coat finish and a wooden trim that not only helps prevent rubbing damage when coming alongside but also looks very smart.  The smooth finish combined with the lower hull weight of only 50kg make it faster than the Yole Club.  The lower weight makes it more manageable ashore too.

    Beach launch Yole Class is always white with wood rubbing strake

    The Yole's open aft design creates an ideal platform for beach launches and swimming fun.

    Two women could easily launch this boat without having to float it out on a beach trolley. That said, if you want to keep the hull in good condition then a launching trolley is a 'must have'.

    Yole Custom

    British Racing Green Yole Custom Mediterranean Blue Yole Custom Hermes Red Yole Custom in Venice

    You can have your yole cusomised if you buy a Yole Custom the Yole for the discerning customer who wants something more classy. The Custom is offered with the side of the hull in a choice of colours - White, Ferrari Red, British Racing Green, Mediterranean Blue or Hermes Red.  You can also have personalised lettering in Gold along the side.  Here are some ideas. You might want to name your boat and have the boat's name in gold down the side.  Or you may wish to have your own name on the boat.  Perhaps you would like the name of your club or if you buy the Yole Custom to use as a yacht tender then your yacht's name.  Whatever you want, with a Custom you can have it.

    What is the connection between the two pictures below?  Can you see the white vertical stakes in the water?  You may have spotted it straight away.  This is Henley Royal Regatta, at Tea Time in 1887 and nowadays.


    Spot the difference?  Well apart from the obvious design differences in the boats you will notice a distinct lack of private rowing boats on the water these days.  Many people used to row to the regatta to watch it.  Nowadays everybody arrives in their cars.


    The consequence of this is that the towpath is so crowded that it is almost impossible at busy times to get about at the regatta.  Progress is quite tortuous.  On the other hand the part of the river adjacent to the course on the towpath side is quite free of traffic and rowing about in a Yole at the regatta is a dream.

    With a Yole you can get right up close to the action and see top crews like this German eight winning the Grand Challenge Cup.

    What happens if water gets inside my Yole?

    Like it or not, water will appear inside your Yole. Air contains moisture and the mere act of putting your boat onto cool water will cause some of that moisture to condense inside the hull.

    Fear not! There is a convenient drain plug in the skeg at the stern.

      Note bung in skeg at stern

    Is there anywhere to stow things in a Yole?

    Yes, each boat has a black hatch in the deck so you can stow things inside if you wish or you can use the foredeck for things that you might need constant access to, like GPS, telephone, chart, sandwiches, water, etc.  It is convenient to tie them to the handle there.

      Stowing essentials in a dry bag clipped to the handle in the bows

    Because the fibreglass boats are made in two halves, it is possible to construct a bulkhead within the boat.  This option, which comes with an extra hatch in the bow compartment, makes for easier retrieval of items stowed there.  Small items could otherwise find their way inside the boat down to the stern, which would mean that the boat might have to be beached to retrieve them.  Something of an inconvenience.

      Stowing essentials in a dry bag clipped to the handle in the bows

    How easy is it to assemble a Yole?

    Very easy.  It takes only a few minutes to rig or de-rig a Yole.  No tools are required.  The riggers may be folded into the boat to save space in a confined area or they may be removed altogether in just a jiffy.  Changing the boat from double to single is a doddle.

    Assembly takes only seconds

    New extended rigger is a no cost option that permits the use of sculls of conventional racing length


    Can it sink?

    Not really.  You would have to try awfully hard to sink this boat.  It draws on lifeboat design for buoyancy with its double skin.  And it draws on sailing boat design with its open aft which makes it totally self-bailing.

    What does that mean?  Well any conventional rowing boat if moored on open water would eventually sink because it would fill up with water from rain and from waves washing over the side in bad weather.  But any water getting into a Yole simply drains out of the stern.  It cannot fill up unless you physically puncture the hull in some way.

    This means that you can take the boat out on really rough water and it will not sink.

    Designed by Noel Louvet, the Yole has been enthusiastically endorsed by record breaking Atlantic and Pacific rower, Gerard d'Aboville, who said that if he were to design a boat to make rowing more accessible to the public then it would be just like the Yole.

    What other innovation is there?

    A lot of lateral thinking has gone into the design of all the VirusBoats.  It is unusual for example to find the foot stretcher and seat mounted on the same aluminium tube.  It is simple design like this that makes the VirusBoats range so affordable and keeps the cost of maintenance low.

    The foot stretcher cannot slip once it has been positioned unlike many more complicated designs.

    The seat is hollow and will float on the water.  Moreover, if you put it down on terra firma the wheels will not touch the ground so they will not get damaged easily like those in most racing boats can.

    Note the three mounting positions for the riggers meaning that you can row it as a double like this or as a single, using the middle mountings.

      Yole standard seats and stretchers on tubes

    How should a Yole be handled?

      The boats come with handles fore and aft, which make the boats easy to manhandle. The 50kg fibreglass boats can then easily be carried by two adults.


    For one person or even two to carry a 60kg polyethylene Yole any distance is not so easy. But with a group of youngsters it is no problem.

    We recommend a beach trolley with a handle, which one or two people can readily pull along. It also prolongs the life of the hull and helps to keep it in good condition if the boat is floated out onto the water without being dragged anywhere.


    A Yole can readily be dragged up a bank or beach by one person. Sailors and canoeists do this all the time with their boats.

    However, in order to achieve high speeds with their boats, racing rowers are in the habit of taking more care than this with their hulls.

    But a Yole is not a racing boat.


    The Yole was designed with the car roof rack in mind.  When upside down the surfaces it rests on are flat. This also makes it suitable for racking upside down. The boat is short enough, at 4.7m, to fit into the average garage.

    It is also possible to get a Yole, despite its bulk, on top of a car like this on your own.

      Yole can easily be carried on a car top

    A towing trailer is the most manageable way of transporting and launching your Yole though.  It is also better for your car's fuel economy.

    Can I choose my boat colour?

    Only with the Yole Custom or the Carbon where you may choose between Ferrari Red, British Racing Green, Mediterranean Blue or Hermes Red for the sides of your boat.  The deck of the boat is always white to reflect sun and keep it cool to the touch.

    The Class and the Club are both only available in white.

      Below the waterline coloured boats are white.

    What oars (sculls) should I choose?

    Conventional racing sculls may be used for the Yole if you or your club already have some to spare.  However, the span (distance from pin to pin) of most Yoles is about 150cm, which is about 8cm narrower than most conventional racing sculls so you will want to use short sculls.  We recommend Std 265 oars. 

    If you are buying new then we recommend that you choose the no cost option of extended riggers, which take the span to 160cm, and either the Sport 280, which is a simple modern design with a moulded plastic blade mounted on a lightweight aluminium shaft. They are fitted with wooden handles for durability and comfort and have integral plastic sleeves and buttons.

    Better still are the Fully Adjustable (in both overall length and in leverage) Carbon/Glass Composite Sculls with modern hatchet blades.

    For use on really rough water, where the crossover of the hands could present difficulties to beginners we recommend the Standard 265 oars with standard riggers, which eliminate the crossover.

    How stable is the Yole?

    Very stable. Not quite as stable as a Mondego, which was designed to be extremely stable. The Yole has been designed to feel like a boat, not a ship. The outriggers enable it to be slimmer than the distance between the oarlocks so it is faster. It is an excellent boat in which to learn rowing, to race or just to play.

    How long does it take for delivery of a boat?

    Usually between 3 and 7 weeks.  It just depends how busy we are with orders.  Obviously there is an element of seasonality in this business.

    Quick Summary of the Yole

    • broad abeam for great stability

    • unsinkable

    • tough, maintenance-free hull and rigging

    • rigged for two rowers

    • rigging converts to single rower without tools in less than a minute

    • adjustable foot stretchers

    • choice of standard 265 or sport 280 aluminium oars

    • 100% self-bailing cockpit

    • fore and aft carrying handles

    • transports by car or trailer

    • suitable for use on rivers, lakes, harbours, estuaries or the sea

    • ideal for children, adolescents or adults, young or old

    • great for competitive racing, promenading, teaching, learning, picnicing, touring, adventure, working out, social rowing, communing with nature...

    Yole Club Polyethylene Robust. Most affordable with stainless riggers.
    Yole Class Fibreglass/ Polyester Smooth & white with wood gunwale too.
    Yole Custom Fibreglass/ Polyester Swish coloured sides. Silent sliding seats. Ultimate in distinction.
    hull: Club anti UV treated polyethylene
      Class Vacuum infused fibreglass/polyester with wooden rubbing strake.
      Custom Vacuum infused fibreglass/polyester with wooden rubbing strake and "Your Chosen Name" on sides.
    colour: Club White.
      Class White.
      Custom Mediterranean Blue, Ferrari Red, British Racing Green, Hermes Red.
    seating: Club VirusBoats ball bearing seat(s) on tubular aluminium runners.
      Class/Custom Choice of above standard or NEW silent-running, comfortable, wooden, Martinoli racing seats with double action wheels running on extruded aluminium rails.
    length: 4.70m
    beam: 1m
    weight: Club 60kg
      Class/Custom 50kg
      Carbon 40kg
    oars (sculls): Choice of aluminium fixed length or adjustable composite glass/carbon.
    Maximum capacity:   200kg

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