REVIEW: 2018 REGAL 29 OBX

By: JOHN FORD, Photography by: JOHN FORD

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

Outboards are challenging sterndrive supremacy in big American sportsboats. John Ford reports on this impressive bowrider that is the shape of the future

TESTED: REGAL 29 OBX

REGAL29OSX FORD 333

HIGHS

• Complete dayboat and harbour-cruising entertainer
• Superb handling and ride, and sporty performance
• High quality finish and loads of storage

LOWS

• Head is somewhat confined

REGAL29OSX FORD 348 

Not long after boarding the Regal 29 OBX, I realised that whoever designed this boat had put plenty of thought into it. They must have spent a lot of time thinking things through to understand exactly what their fellow boaters wanted, because everywhere I looked there was versatile seating and storage, with an interior laid out for maximal enjoyment. Take a seat for a while and it just feels right.

Regal has been building pleasure boats for its American customers since 1969 and in a market with dozens of competitors, its stern-driven bowriders have earned a place in the top end of the market.

With two Yamaha outboards, the 29 OBX is something of a revolution amongst sizeable sportsboats, where big block V8’s have reigned supreme. But changing American environmental protection laws have demanded the fitting of catalytic converters and other technical improvements to inboard engines, rendering them more expensive.

CENTRE STAGE

Because greener new generation outboards offer efficiencies of weight, economy and service costs, their introduction to the class is a no brainer, apart from the fact they occupy space at the transom, which on a sterndrive, is an open swim and wake platform. The 29 OBX solves this to an extent by wrapping a large staging area around the engines. They also designed a sector of the deck plate to slide 200mm to give added space to the swimplatform, or to slide back for more room in the cockpit when socialising. See what I mean about thinking things through.

Regal didn’t just modify one of its existing hulls and stick a set of outboards on the back. The 29 OBX is an all-new boat from the keel up with two of Regal’s patented FasTrak steps that force air underneath for quicker planing and a more efficient shape at running speeds. The company claims up to 30% better fuel economy from the stepped design and, while we weren’t able to verify that, performance getting out of the hole is impressive and the top speed of 45kts points to a very hydrodynamic hull.

Happily, the Regal carries its volume well, retaining a sporty well-proportioned look. A sharp entry sweeps back quickly underneath before giving way to deep sides finished in a rich black gelcoat. White topsides include a flowing fibreglass arch that cantilevers forward to support a neat hardtop. The black and white theme looks classy and it’s a shame there weren’t black engine options to complete the look.

The swimplatform includes a shower and covered swim ladder, with the platform finished in grippy SeaDek cladding for a soft feel underfoot and easy maintenance. Sliding the cockpit deck plate to its forward position reveals a wet locker for dive or swimming gear, while engine controls and fuel lines are run in a tunnel to keep the area neat and tangle free.

REGAL29OSX FORD 367

CONVOLUTE COCKPIT

Rather than a full-width sunpad over the engines at the transom, as you would expect on a sterndrive, there is a walkway through a pair of lounges to the cockpit where bench seats run along each side. The transom lounges convert from rear facing to flat sunpads and can be flipped to face forward as part of a wraparound cockpit that includes reversible helm seats. The whole rear floor section, which would have covered the inboard engine, lifts to reveal a monster lazarette storage area.

White and grey upholstery complement the hull and it’s finished in heavy wearing 32oz outdoor vinyl with double stitching and plush padding.

Twin helm seats are wide enough to accommodate two each side and the driver’s side slides electronically to combine with an adjustable wheel so anyone should be able to find a comfortable position. Ahead of the companion seat is a wide head compartment hatch with padded storage bin on top to safely store smaller items like phones. The enclosed head includes an electric-flush toilet with a holding tank, a Corian benchtop with a smart-looking glass bowl and an opening port. Access is relatively easy, with well-placed handholds and while head height is limited, there’s enough room and light, once you are inside, to not feel too confined.

The hardtop has a central PVC sunroof section that is easily opened by hand. It effectively shades the whole cockpit area and was whistle, rattle and hum free right through the speed trials and over chop and wake during our test.

A centre section of the five-piece Taylor Made screen opens to the bow and combines with a lower door for an effective air dam at speed. The beamy nature of the 29 allows enough width up front for five around the U-shaped setup, or comfortable feet-up lounges, with armrests along each side. Useful storage is found in moulded bins under the seats and there are cup holders for everyone, along with a set of upmarket Fusion speakers and handy grabrails.

REGAL29OSX FORD 358

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT

It’s in the cockpit that you appreciate why this Regal is so engaging. It has the size and layout to comfortably entertain a large group while still offering a separate space up front for more. Walkways are wide and there’s easy access to fridges and storage. With the sun protection of the hardtop you can spend hours at anchor or cruising the scenery without being fried under the Aussie sun.

The wide dash is enveloped in non-reflective, hand-stitched vinyl and features a circular brow that shades the instruments and a 7610 Garmin multifunction screen. Engine and navigation data on the screen is complemented by a small digital depth sounder and fuel gauge. A row of toggle switches control the usual array of accessories, while the anchor control and side-mounted throttles are easily reached.

Comfortably settled in behind the sporty wheel, I found the seating position well protected by a high screen that gave clear vision all round. Driving is possible from a standing position, but the boat is designed to settle back in the helm chair and enjoy the ride.

YAMAHA F200 TWINS

Stamping on the lightweight throttles brought the twin 200hp Yamahas to light and quickly onto plane. It might lack the throaty rumble of a big V8, but there is no denying the instant power of the outboards and the benefit of their lighter weight. There was some high-pitched resonance low in the range from the four-cylinder outboards, but they accelerated powerfully and settled to a sweet sound over 3200rpm.

The boat felt sure and stable at all speeds through the range and it handled the tricky Sydney Harbour chop with style. Best economy showed at 22kts and 3500rmp with a fuel use from both engines of 41.6lt/h and a theoretical range of the monster 540lt tank of 272nm. Lean on the throttles, and a fast cruise of 32.2kts was still comfortable. At 4500rpm the engines consumed 68lt/h for a potential range of 234nm. Wide open we saw 45.1kts at 6000rp and a range of 159nm.

Handling was in keeping with the 29’s sportsboat persona. It turns effortlessly without any slip or wallow and seemed remarkably unaffected by trim, perhaps due to the unusual shape of the FasTrac hull.

REGAL29OSX FORD 402

WRAP IT UP

I would see the Regal 29 OBX as the sort of boat most buyers would graduate to over time, maybe after owning smaller boats and realising the extra space needed for growing families. Those with extended families who like to entertain a crowd will be drawn to the extra room and the benefits of an on board head. Twin engines make it an easily handled boat at close quarters and a safe option for occasional offshore fishing ventures.
Dry storage racks are growing in popularity and they make owning a boat like this much simpler, but for those fortunate to have access to a mooring or marina, the ability to lift the engines clear of the water is a real benefit.

Price as tested is $285,012 including options like the hardtop, pump-out toilet, fridge and SeaDek. Base price is $252,868, but if you want more poke than the twin 200’s you can opt for a pair of 250hp Yamahas at a starting price of $277,642. For my money the 200’s would be a perfect match. 

Sea Trials 

Twin Yamaha F200 with 18in SS propellers; two people and 500L fuel on board 

RPM SPEED (KTS) FUEL BURN (LT/H) RANGE (NM)
600 3.9 3 655
1000 4.8 5.3 456
1500 6.8 11.4 300
2000 7.4 15.9 234
2500 8.1 25 162
3000 13.5 36.3 186
3500 (planing) 22.6 41.6 272
4000 28 56 251
4500 32.2 68.9 234
5000 38.2 98.4 195
5500 40.9 129.5 148
6000 45.1 142.3 159

*Sea-trial data supplied by the author/manufacturer. Range calculated leaving 10 per cent in reserve.

REGAL29OSX FORD 345

SPECIFICATIONS: REGAL 29 OBX 

PRICED FROM

$252,868

OPTIONS FITTED

Custom gelcoat; electric pump-out toilet and light; hardtop with sunroof and speakers; carpet; fridge; SeaDek swimplatform cover; and more.

PRICE AS TESTED

$285,012

GENERAL

MATERIAL GRP
TYPE Monohull dayboat
LENGTH 8.86m
BEAM 2.74m
WEIGHT 2971kg
DEADRISE 19°

CAPACITIES

PEOPLE 14
FUEL 560lt

ENGINE

MAKE/MODEL Twin Yamaha F200
TYPE In-line, four-cylinder fuel-injected four-stroke
RATED HP 1 x 200
DISPLACEMENT 2785cc
WEIGHT 221kg
GEAR RATIO 1.86:1
PROPELLER 18in

SUPPLIED BY

PREMIER MARINE
Sydney Boat House
Unit 4, 2 Waterways Court, Rozelle NSW 2039
PHONE (02) 9328 0999
WEB premiermarine.com.au

Check out the full review in issue #501 of Trade-a-Boat magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.

 


Want the latest stories delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for the free TradeBoats e-newsletter.