REVIEW: REGAL 3200 BOWRIDER
The new Regal 3200 bowrider takes the class to a new level in size and luxury. We let John Ford loose on the boat, following its release at the 2013 Sydney Boat Show
Around the world bowriders are the biggest-selling boats to the family market. The class appeals because it offers of a versatile layout which allows crew to spread out and relax on the water. Regal calls its new 3200 a bowrider. Its presence and volume, however, are grander than most and with an ability to carry up to 14 passengers, it is the ideal dayboat for entertaining bigger families or lots of friends.
The 3200 is the latest model in Regal’s extensive range and the new boat hit the water following its introduction at this year’s Sydney International Boat Show. For our test with Premier Marine on Rose Bay, the weather put on its best spring rehearsal allowing us to experience the boat in its element, cruising the harbour in brilliant sunshine and later against the backdrop of a setting sun.
Regal is a third-generation, family-owned American company with production going back more than 40 years. In the 3200 they have taken the bowrider concept to new waters, unashamedly enticing everyone out into the open air. Sure there are sunshades to shield the crew but unlike cabin boats, there are no compromises to overnighting. Instead, the whole deck area is devoted to seating or lounging around, and there is loads of space. This is because in America the boat is rated to 18 passengers but Australian specifications limit capacity to 14, leaving those extra four spots as more room spread out.
With input from an Italian design team the boat has well-proportioned lines and a raked windscreen that disguises its size, but on stepping aboard the roominess becomes apparent. This is highlighted by the width of the deck at the boarding/swim platform that flows through to the cockpit where convertible lounges on each side take full advantage of the 3.2m beam. From the rear swimplatform right through to the bow, a wide walkway creates a great open feel and an easy flow between three distinct areas: the bow, the helm and the main cockpit.
Unlike more modest trailerable bowriders, the helm and main cockpit are separated by mouldings that create different areas for guests to spread out, allowing as much interaction or privacy as they like. This means a team of youngsters can occupy the bow with the sound system blasting while adults relax in the cockpit.
In the monster bow Regal has done away with the horseshoe design of most bowriders to create versatile seating or lounging opportunities for up to seven. In standard layout, double forward-facing seats each side are set opposite a three-person rear-facing lounge built into the wide bow. However, with infills in place, two people each side can stretch out full-length, cosseted by moulded back supports and folding arm rests. Even more infills convert the whole bow section into a vast sunlounge.
A cavernous walk-in storage locker is located to starboard and is accessed by lifting the moulding that supports the rear bow seat. There is hanging space for lifejackets, wet-weather gear and mooring lines, dedicated slots for the tables and space for the numerous infills around the boat.
Stainless steel drinkholders abound and an unobtrusive rail around the perimeter offers support to passengers when underway. Beneath the central bowseat is a large removable icebox and tables can be positioned into the bow, as well as four other locations around the boat. At the very front are a wide boarding step, a hatch to the Lewmar electric winch and a stainless steel anchor that is cleverly retracted out of sight beneath the stem.
The folding windscreen and a lower bi-fold door can block off the wide passageway between bow and cockpit and there is plenty of room in the walkway to access a fridge which is built into the starboard bulkhead. Upholstery throughout the interior is of a high standard, with the white vinyl finished in tones of grey and black. All storage under the seats is lined and the cushions are Velcro-fastened to the bases to keep them in place.
Twin driver and passenger seats are bolstered and offer the comfort of a firm central-back support. Arrayed across the wide non-reflective grey dash is a comprehensive suite of instruments, including readouts for the twin engines as well as depth and trim gauges. A sporty stainless steel wheel has a grippy black-vinyl rim and the engine controls are conveniently located on a binnacle to starboard that also has switches for the Power Tower, underwater lights, bilge blower, horn and wiper. To the left of the dash a Fusion sound system with iPod connectivity is coupled to three pairs of speakers around the boat.
Over on the passenger side there’s a big surprise in store when the dash panel is opened, revealing an impressive walk-in head equipped with a full-size Tecma electric toilet linked to a holding tank and an opening porthole for ventilation. I liked the modern fitout of white moulded fibreglass against a dark cherry timber cabinet and a dark granite-style benchtop. There’s a very contemporary glass vanity bowl and with around 6ft of head height, the space is roomy enough to double as a change-room.
The main cockpit area has more innovative seating including Regal’s UltraLounges. These convert to six configurations, including front- or rear-facing twin seats each side, twin sunbeds or, with inserts, a monster sunpad. A refreshment console behind the driver has a waist-high preparation bench with storage below for a carry-on icebox. The brown granite-look benchtop incorporates a circular stainless steel sink with matching lid and two wine-bottle holders.
THE TOWER AND THE POWER
An aluminium arch over the cockpit – Regal’s patented Power Tower – supports front and rear sunshades and can be lowered 900mm for bridge access or locking the boat down for storage. There is only a small step down to the raised swimplatform, so a swimladder recessed into the deck allows access for swimmers back to the boat. I found even more storage in drained lockers under the rear lounges as well as a freshwater shower and a barbecue that mounts into a dedicated slot at the transom.
Twin 350 MerCruisers live in the engine bay and are easily accessed from the rear swimplatform by raising the aft lounge base on a hydraulic ram. These 5.7lt (350 cu in) fuel-injected V8s pump out 300hp each and proved a worthy match for the big bowrider. In the engine bay, yet more storage is provided on a platform to port and there is an automatic fire extinguisher, battery charger, bilge blower and a house battery as well as one for each engine.
While all this living space lends itself to lazing about, a sexy dayboat also needs performance and, as mentioned, the 3200 doesn’t miss out with 600 willing horsepower on tap to move its hefty 4500kg displacement. The driving position is comfortable and well laid out, with the twin throttle controls smooth and light to the touch. Vision through the screen gives a wide, uninterrupted view, but for a ride with wind in your hair the raised bolster is comfortable and there’s plenty of room to stand and still easily access the controls.
Planting the throttle garnered an immediate response from the V8s and we were planing at around 14kts and 2500rpm. We settled into an easy cruise at 3500rpm, 25kts showing on my GPS before giving it the berries, accelerating quickly to 39kts and then gradually squeezing out a couple of more knots at full noise.
Ride over the typical Sydney Harbour chop of around 1m was soft and quiet and the twin sterndrives locked the boat into turns with a solid and certain feel. There was good response to the wheel and the boat leaned into corners without any wallowing or pitching.
In calm water I threw the boat into sharp turns at nearly 30kts and it responded by digging the outside rail in and following its course without fuss. Unlike some of the stepped FasTrac hulls in the Regal range the 3200’s OceanTrac Hull is a conventional deep deadrise design with planning strakes and chines running the length of the underwater surfaces. The boat does not need much trim on the legs for peak performance and while the trim tabs might be useful with a full complement of crew I did not need them during the test.
At cruising speed it’s possible to hold conversations as most of the wind is deflected overhead and the hull has a rock-steady feel allowing easy movement around the boat. The 3200 is easy to drive and safe at speed and with the relatively high driving position visibility all-round is excellent.
This is not a boat for the shy and reclusive. If you want to cruise your local waterway incognito then forget it – you will be on show in the open air in a boat that’s a bit of a show-off itself.
As tested the boat was $288,000 but that’s a lot of quality boat for the money and it included many extras that added to its appeal. It doesn’t try to be everything to everyone, it’s all about fun in the sun and it fulfils its role as a roomy dayboat superbly.
› Exceptional amount of storage
› Room for up to 14 passengers
› Pleasant styling and high-quality finish
› Good handling and ride
› You are in the hands of the weather gods
REGAL 3200 REVIEW
PRICE AS TESTED
Engine upgrade, bow filler cushions, canvas covers, fridge, tables, Flexiteek, toilet, transom door, and more
Twin 300hp MerCruiser 350 MAG petrol V8s
2500 (planing) 14.5kts
5200 (WOT) 40.8kts
PEOPLE (DAY) 14
MAKE/MODEL 2 x MerCruiser 350 MAG
TYPE Fuel injected V8 petrol
RATED HP 300 (each)
Rose Bay Marina,
594 New South Head Road,
Rose Bay, NSW, 2029
Phone: (02) 9328 0999
Originally published in Trade-a-Boat #444, September/October 2013
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