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February 22, 2008

Regulator 30 Express

Designer Lou Codega has yet to pen a hull that didn't perform exceptionally well. The 30 EX proves no exception.

Back in 1988 (when they were practically just kids), Joan and Owen Maxwell started Regulator Marine in an old A&P grocery store in Edenton, North Carolina. The company now operates from a state-of-the-art, 60,000-square-foot (soon to double) manufacturing facility. What hasn't changed is the quality and performance of Regulator, one of the finest boats on the market today.

I also remember so many years ago when Owen Maxwell said he'd never build another cabin boat. Now here it is - since his customers wanted one. Then, too, he said he'd never build a triple-engine boat. We'll see ?

Performance
As you've no doubt previously read in my columns, three things contribute to a smooth ride at sea: waterline length, weight and bottom design. Regulator builds comparatively heavy boats - a good thing. And designer Lou Codega has yet to pen a hull that didn't perform exceptionally well. The 30 EX proves no exception.
 
A pair of massive 350 hp Yamaha V-8 four-strokes on an Armstrong bracket lifted us onto plane in just under eight seconds and then pushed us along at 56 mph, burning 70.4 gph while turning 6,000 rpm. (Imagine what triples would do.) At the other end of the spectrum, 1,000 rpm equals 6.7 mph with no surface and very little subsurface turbulence: very clean for slow trolling. A comfortable cruising speed at 35 mph and 4,500 rpm uses 31 gph.
 
Yamaha's new electronic controls feel nice and offer an electronic "trolling-valve" feature. However, I discovered the hard way that individual engine-trim buttons on top of the binnacle can cause problems. Rest the heel of your hand on the binnacle (the way we all do) and you'll suddenly find your engines out of trim all over the place! 
 
The optional bow thruster makes for a nice feature but is hardly necessary.
 
I discovered one of the most impressive characteristics when I turned the wheel hard over at cruising speed: At 30 mph, we bled speed quickly and leaned hard into the turn, accomplishing a 180-degree turn in less than two boat lengths and with virtually no centrifugal force.
 
The reverse chines and deep-V belie the remarkably short roll moment in the 2- to 3-foot seas we encountered.

Fishing
The heritage of this boat comes steeped in brute Oregon Inlet strength. So, when you go fishing on this Regulator, worry only about your own skills, not the boat's abilities. 
 
Regulator eliminates one of the most common problems with this boat style - getting safely to the bow to fish. Molded steps in each forward cockpit corner and secure handholds make the transit comfortable. 
 
You'll find six rod holders on the stanchion legs, augmenting two more in each gunwale and places for two under each gunwale. The transom sports a fish box. Regulator also supplies tackle storage in the starboard module under the sink and a second, 35-gallon baitwell under the molded-in, aft-facing seat.
 
The vessel drifts beautifully and is stable, but I offer one suggestion: While the 30 EX turns on a fish reasonably well by putting one engine in forward and the other in reverse, don't bother. You'll out-maneuver any fish alive by turning the wheel hard over and gunning the engines. Those 350s offer some monumental torque!

Design and Construction
I defy anyone to find a cleaner, more organized factory than Regulator's. And that attention to detail carries over to each boat the company builds. They don't just look good on the outside. Those who know understand that a Regulator's beauty goes all the way to the bone. 
 
Woodwork below is all teak laminate over MDO board (Medium Density Overlay - a marine plywood with a weather-resistant resin overlay bonded to the wood by heat and pressure). In the bow you'll find a nice double berth with a rounded coaming bar that functions as back support for people when seated around the hi-lo dinette table. When low, the latter acts as an insert for the berth. And the midship berth provides plenty of room even for large folk.
 
The galley includes Corian counters, a polished stainless-steel sink, microwave and single-burner ceramic cooktop as well as an Isotherm refrigerator drawer with a stand-up head opposite. For easy maintenance, all bulkheads are finished in glossy fiberglass.

It's still a two-part construction process with vacuum-bagged Divinycell coring. You'll instantly notice the absence of squeaks, groans and creaks when running in rough seas, thanks to both the weight and the incredibly solid construction. 
 
About the only things I'd personally change concern the nonskid on the walkway around the foredeck. I said "around" because the cabin top remains glossy. I'd rather the entire deck be nonskid. I'd also figure out a way to have a swim ladder deployable from the water instead of a removable Armstrong model - but that's just my obsession with offshore safety.
 
It's with good reason that so many manufacturers use Regulators as benchmarks. The company's quality, design and performance are all things to which others can aspire.
 
LOA......38 ft.
BEAM......10 ft. 7 in.
HULL DRAFT......2 ft. 3 in.
DEADRISE......24 deg.
WEIGHT......11,600 lb. (dry)
FUEL......300 gal.
MAX HP......T350 hp OB
MSRP......$269,000 (with T350s)
NMMA Certified......Yes

Regulator Boats / Edenton, North Carolina / 252-482-3837 / www.regulatormarine.com