You might think that after many years of testing hundreds of boats, one might get jaded or bored. That may be slightly true for the “me too” boats with nothing exceptional to recommend them. But at Sport Fishing, we always try to profile the best boats available. After all, why give prime coverage to boats that we wouldn’t want to own?
But even among the best, certain marques really shine. Ever since the company started, Regulator has been a standout with boats that consistently set standards to which all other builders and boat buyers aspire. Regulator’s newest addition, a 32-foot center-console, again sets the pace for all-around utility, seaworthiness and fishability.
I wouldn’t have chosen a day with a 20-knot northeasterly to go fishing. But boat testing waits for no man, so out Stuart Inlet we went with our eyes on the thunderheads forming onshore.
Regulator’s 26-footer has no equal in quality and handling. The 32, also designed by Lou Codega, had some big shoes to fill. But I’m pleased to report that the Regulator 32 will set new standards of its own.
You don’t get the sensation of speed as much on this larger boat. Nonetheless, at 4,000 rpm, the twin Yamaha 250s cruised along remarkably quietly at 34 mph, with a seemingly endless expanse of bow reaching the next wave crest before dropping into the troughs between waves. Spray never once curled up over the bow to dampen our spirits. In fact, the same gentle demeanor greeted us no matter what point of sea we encountered. In flat-calm back inside the inlet, I managed 46 mph at 5,200 rpm. I liked the response at midrange and would keep the test props. However, if top end hits your hot button, props that turn up to factory spec 5,500 rpm – rather than the 15-1/4 by 19s on our test boat – may get you to 50 mph.
We tried drifting a coral ledge with no success. The beam-to-the-sea drift couldn’t have been more comfortable. But without fish, we tried trolling for dolphin and wahoo. The wake proved pretty normal with two clear alleys at 8 mph.
Other differences from the 26 include a slightly longer time to plane (not surprising with the same power on both boats), a more stately turning radius (though helm response is instantaneous) and a quieter ride. On the other hand, the 32’s bow rise appears similar, while the ride in general seems like a BMW 7-series sedan compared to a Z3 roadster.
The owners of Regulator qualify as avid fishermen and don’t need hired guns to tell them what a real fishing boat needs. The 10-1/2-foot beam combined with an open deck from stem almost to stern (large transom boxes and an integral platform separate the pit from the stern) provides an extraordinary amount of fishing room. Padded bolsters lining all gunwales make bracing in a fight comfortable. A huge 50-gallon live baitwell in the transom with dual intakes means you don’t have to turn around to re-bait. The leaning post contains 20 tackle drawers, an insulated bait tray, freshwater sink, integral backrest with rocket-launcher tool holders and a rigging rack.
A large in-deck fish box sits forward of the console and drains overboard through a macerator pump. Take a step up to the casting deck and you’ll find the rail a good height for throwing a cast net without having to climb up onto the wide gunwale. Under the casting deck you’ll find a cavernous dry-storage box as well as rod storage lockers for 12 complete offshore rigs. As you’d expect on such a high-quality boat, all the in-deck hatches have gutters and gaskets for unsurpassed dryness and an impeccable fit.
The rocket launchers on the back of the leaning post hold the rods virtually vertical so the cockpit has no obstruction whatsoever. A wide transom door with a solid latch and a gunwale insert fully takes up a third of the transom while another fish box and the baitwell fill the remainder.
The only drawback I found is in the distance between the cockpit and the outboard end of the engines. It’s more of a stretch than I’d like, but with the right length rod, it’s a small compromise for such outstanding fishing room throughout the boat. Plus, quite honestly, I rarely fight a fish close to the transom on a center-console boat.
Design and Construction
Like its siblings, the Regulator 32 consists of a solid fiberglass bottom, transom and topsides cored with Klegecell and (for an optional $1,950) you can choose any custom hull color under the sun.
You get precious few options from which to select with the Regulator. The 32 only offers the T-top with a prewired electronics box, battery charger, pop-up cleats and bow light, spray curtains, outriggers, tilt steering and an Armstrong ladder. That’s it. Personally, I’d go for every one of them. I’d want them anyway, so why not let the factory install it all.
I seldom get enthusiastic about the interior of a center-console’s helm. I rarely find one I can actually fit into. Be advised that the new Regulator’s console is large enough for giants to use the full-size head and shower and emerge without significant bruising.
If you put quality of design and construction above all else in a boat, then the Regulator 32 should be the first boat you look at. A number of other manufacturers do this very well, though so far, nobody has done it better.