- Aboard this handsome Regal 28, no matter where you recline, the layout of the boat’s interior is such that the entire experience is a shared one.
- … the 2800’s stepped Raymond Hunt-designed hull presents a very soft-riding moderate-vee profile, which gives the boat great seakeeping and driver handling.
- … the boat can be fully enclosed by means of an all-weather cover.
Regal 2800 Bowrider
HMS heads to Key Largo in Florida to test three exciting models produced by US powerboat-building giant, Regal Boats. First up for review is the new 2800 Bowrider – a model that Gibbs Boat Sales of Poole are now making available to the UK market.
There is no denying it: of those privileged enough to enjoy the finer things in life, the people of America, perhaps the greatest consumer nation on earth, expect quality in terms of the items they purchase and subsequently choose to own. Not for all, of course, but for many the standard of living in America is generally higher than here in the UK. This is evidenced by the size of the average home or the number of high-end cars a family may have sat in their garage. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, the US boat market is likewise one of the largest in the world – partly due to affluence, partly due to the size of the population and, let’s not forget, partly because it also possesses a simply vast degree of coastline!
Of course, there is no denying that the US economy has undergone a serious slowdown and, as elsewhere, the boating industry here was not only one of the last to enter the recession but also one of the last to begin emerging from the ashes of despair. Nonetheless, bouncing back it is, and though maybe not quite in all its former glory, the US boating market is a great deal more buoyant right now than it has been in recent years. This upturn is giving builders such as Regal the confidence to design and produce new models, and, to a very large degree, those companies who have had the financial reserves and the courage to stick with their development plans right through the recession are the very ones who have not only safely navigated through the rock-strewn waters of recession but have also emerged the other side, fitter and leaner than ever before. The family-run business, Regal Boats, gives every impression of being just such an operation.
Sense and sociability
Regal give the solid impression of seeking to offer a model and type to suit virtually every taste and requirement. Whether that be a fun runabout, a ski boat, a sociable bowrider, a pocket cruiser or even a luxurious full-blown cruiser, Regal pretty much produce the lot! To be fair, while all are of a very high build standard, some models are better than others at achieving their intended goal, and, as expected, some are also better suited to the UK market than others in the range. But in this latter respect, after their many years in the business, the team at Gibbs Boat Sales, the award-winning distributor of Regal products here in the UK, has become adept at knowing exactly which, out of all the boats Regal produce, are the ones going to strike a chord with the British boat-buying public. The subject of this review, Regal’s all-new, Volvo Penta petrol V8-powered, 28ft Bowrider, is just such a craft.
The main function of a bowrider is to enhance the social side of boating. Aboard this handsome Regal 28, no matter where you recline, the layout of the boat’s interior is such that the entire experience is a shared one. The boat’s surround-sound system and lighting design give further evidence of this. As regards the seating plan, being a family man myself, I really like the social concept behind the 28 – it makes a very pleasant change to most of my boating life, which has involved thousands of miles at sea sitting in line on a jockey console looking at the back of someone’s head! The interior of the 28 is positively sumptuous, and everything about the deck plan and its associated fixtures and fittings speaks both quality and comfort. The D-shaped stainless steel fittings are a perfect example of this.
Up and away
Now of course, this boat is not about enduring difficult sea states – it’s designed for fair conditions and the pure enjoyment of spending time on the water in open-air comfort. That said, the 2800’s stepped Raymond Hunt-designed hull presents a very soft-riding moderate-vee profile, which gives the boat great seakeeping and driver handling. Underway, one can really feel the lift in the vessel’s chines and the reassuring nature of the hull’s dead-straight tracking. Its hydrodynamics work beautifully, which means that the whole on-board experience for both driver and passengers is enhanced even more – resulting in seagoing comfort as well as confidence in the boat’s abilities for all those aboard. So, take it as a given that this boat is an absolute pleasure to helm and ride aboard; in addition, courtesy of its stepped hull, whether at cruising speed or powering along at 50mph plus, this craft runs silky smooth and strikingly level.
Let’s now talk in some detail about the boat’s interior and some of the more notable facilities this boat affords its owner. As indicated, the boat’s ability to seat people comfortably and extensively is a major attribute of the 2800, and this is further enhanced by the bowrider-type design. The namesake forward area, like the rest of the boat’s interior, is very secure thanks to its deep nature and the design of its high-quality seating. It’s a great place to ride, and being furthest away from the inboard engine up here in the forepeak, once underway all you can hear is the sea slipping beneath the boat’s hull and the breeze singing in your ears. Good handholds throughout give added on-board security. Beneath the seats, in fact all around the boat, every available opportunity has been utilised to afford a truly superb amount of storage space. In addition, there are two ski lockers provided. But despite the extensive social seating plan and stowage etc., there still remains a very generous degree of deck space, which ensures that this boat doesn’t feel cramped in any way, shape or form.
Ergonomics and detail
The console is effectively split into two by means of a central fore and aft access way. On the starboard side the helm console represents a very fine ‘cockpit’ that scores highly in terms of its ergonomics and its overall design. A poor driving position detracts hugely from the whole boating experience, and it baffles me just how many boatbuilders get such a key area so completely wrong. Not so with this Regal: everything is to hand, in line of sight and at the same time very functional. Furthermore, the helm seat is electrically adjustable to ensure maximum comfort and suitability for both guys and gals. Admittedly, this boat had come straight from the factory and so would not as yet have been PPI’d by its relevant dealer, but being critical, I did notice that there was a small area of dash facer that needed to be tidied. That aside, the finish here at the driving position mirrored that seen elsewhere. On the port side, in front of what would normally be the navigator’s position, is one of the best toilet/heads/wash compartments I’ve seen on a boat of this size. It’s great to have such a well-designed facility on a boat of this type, which in turn ensures the social attributes of the craft – including those sometimes needed little moments of privacy – are never compromised!
The addition of a fridge, powered cool/icebox and galley adds to the party feel, and it’s worth pointing out that the fridge runs off a dual-battery installation for total trouble-free usage. In addition, the icebox rather cleverly drains freely straight into the ocean, so no mess, no fuss. Little details like this add up to making a big difference. But in case you’re wondering how practical this open-air social-styled boat really is in relation to our home climate, then fear not – in conjunction with the electrically adjustable power tower (another neat and stylish attribute of the 28), the boat can be fully enclosed by means of an all-weather cover. This more than anything gives me confidence that this vessel has the adaptability to successfully make that US to UK crossover.
The automated enhancements possessed by this boat also include an electric windlass, a bow thruster (the latter being a sheer luxury on a boat of this size) and – wait for it – a hydraulically operated bathing step installed on the supersized bathing platform. The latter even sports an icebox of its own, so swimmers can simply reach for a drink without even exiting the water! But besides providing a spacious boarding area, the swim deck not only affords another relaxation area but also provides very sound protection from the boat’s outdrive/propeller.
The Volvo 380 V8 power unit is inconspicuously housed and installed to apparent perfection. It’s a very tidy engineering job and everything within the unit has been designed and fitted in a thoroughly professional manner – just as one would expect from a boatbuilder of this renown. Of course, the home market here favours petrol –or gas, as it’s known ‘Stateside’. But a petrol engine makes sense here in the UK too. The capital outlay is far less than the diesel equivalent, and for the amount of hours an owner of one of these craft is actually going to spend on the water, the saving in capital outlay in comparison to the potential fuel economy a diesel affords means the petrol option favours the wallet every time. The V8 motor chosen for this model is a great choice on the part of the manufacturer too, in terms of its power-to-weight properties.
All in all, though it comes with quite a price tag, this new 28ft bowrider is a very likable, high-quality sports craft that is hard to find fault with. If Gibbs know their market as well as their record in the business would suggest, I would say they have another winner on their hands here …
Why we would
- Great build quality
- Exceptional interior design
- Ergonomically and functionally sound
Why we wouldn’t
- The boat’s price tag
- If you have no wish to be sociable
- If you are seeking an all-weather, offshore craft
- Length overall: 8.6m
- Beam: 2.7m
- Deadrise: 21º
- Approximate dry weight: 2971kg
- Fuel capacity: 409L
- Water capacity: 68L
- Max. capacity: CE 13
- Draught – drive up: 0.7m
- Draught – drive down: 0.97m