As I walked toward the floating dock at Charleston’s Wapoo Cut boat ramp, the Regulator 26XO floated placidly in the current, looking all the world like an offshore boat with a proud, flared bow and more than 26 feet in deck length. However, upon second glance, I saw curiously low gunwales and a single outboard engine.
Regulator has indeed created an all-new crossover design: It’s not a bay boat, and not a deep-V offshore vessel. Being in between gives it nearly unrivaled fishing variety as well as plenty of family comforts—in addition to some surprising big-boat features.
On this calm April day, we easily could have planned a full offshore adventure. Or we could have hunted redfish in the marsh creeks. We were prepared for both.
Thoughtful Designs Capt. Mike Able (haddrellspoint.com), our guide for the day, idled the 26XO away from the dock as I anchored my gear behind the thickly cushioned helm-seat bolster, which is made from a new, soft silicon-based vinyl. Able had already settled some small mud minnows and a minimal amount of water into the 32-gallon livewell aft of the leaning post.
He also had stowed frozen squid and a bucket of fiddler crabs in the cavernous, 64-gallon port aft storage box. He had rigged at least eight rods that I saw. The 26XO features rod storage under each gunwale and in the port and starboard locking boxes beneath the bow seating.
Able pointed the 26XO toward Charleston Harbor and a shallow artificial reef 3 miles beyond. (The boat comes with a 16-inch Garmin 8616xsv plotter/sounder; anglers can option up for two 12-inch displays.)
Drew Halford, Regulator’s mid-Atlantic sales manager, took me on a tour of the boat bow to stern as we made our way offshore. My test boat came equipped with an optional, self-deploying Minn Kota Ulterra Riptide trolling motor wired to three batteries in the 54-gallon, center forward storage box.
Impressively, all hatch lids come gasketed, most with hydraulically assisted shocks, and the boxes all feature deep channels that redirect water. Halford had stowed the standard bow cushions beneath the console, so the broad forward casting deck remained open for fishing. The foredeck also features a step up, but that step is wide enough to accommodate all or most of a shoe or boot, providing surer footing.
Port and starboard bow loungers come with flip-up backrests and nearby USB ports for phone charging. The forward console seat features twin high-back bolsters; its seat hides a 14-gallon cooler. Ahead of the seat in the sole lies a 70-gallon fish box.
The 26XO’s standard fiberglass hardtop comes with an integrated windshield, which mimics that of the company’s 41-footer. The top is made with a vacuum-infusing process that keeps it lightweight.
Fishing Platform Offshore, the seas had calmed to a minor chop with a long, low swell. But as Able ran the boat east, we did encounter a few significant wakes—our only chance to really experience the legendary Regulator ride.
As we raced across the waves, I raised an OK sign with my right hand. “Yep, you can tell it’s a Regulator,” Halford responded, grinning.
Able throttled back and headed to the cockpit to prepare some rods. Robby Renken from Palmetto Boat Sales, the local Regulator dealer, took the helm. He deployed the trolling motor, and we started watching the sounder for structure and fish. Five other boats mulled around the buoy marking this nearshore artificial-reef site, which lay in 35 feet of water.
We had only an hour or two to fish, which limited our offshore run time, but Able felt we might pick off a decent black drum, perhaps a red drum, and assorted bottomfish such as sheepshead and black sea bass. He cast a weighted chunk bait out long and set that in a rod holder along the hardtop’s aft edge. He handed me a light spinning rod with a sliding-egg-sinker rig. I baited up with a fiddler crab.
Initially, I fished from the coaming-lined cockpit, which is a healthy 19¼ inches deep in the aft corners. After releasing a few small black sea bass, I stepped up to the aft deck, which features a definitive lip that extends higher along the aft transom edge. Needless to say, gunwale height and protective edges create an extra element of safety.
I switched to cut squid but could not get the bait past the sea bass. Able decided to pull lines and head to the harbor jetties.
Running Home As we stowed gear, Halford knelt at the aft deck and said, “Let me show you the bilge.” He lifted up the middle transom seat to reveal a big-boat-type lazarette. “No bilge monkey needed for this boat,” I quipped.
I took a seat in the starboard helm chair, which comes with its own fold-down footrest. It was nice to ride protected from the April chill behind the full glass windshield.
We rounded the harbor’s south jetty, and Renken again deployed the trolling motor, setting it on Spot Lock mode. The virtual bow anchor kept us off the rocks, but close enough so I could toss a bait into the swirling water as it poured over the barrier. I found plenty of deck space forward; three of us could have shared ample elbowroom.
We floated in more than 5 feet of water, so we didn’t even begin to challenge the Regulator’s 14-inch draft, a remarkable number considering the vessel’s length and weight.
No bite materialized, so I suggested we conduct some performance testing. While Halford manned the helm, I jotted the times and speeds. We lowered the standard jack plate all the way down, lifted the tabs, and trimmed in the engine. The tidal current in the harbor was ripping out, so we ran against the current and with the current.
Read Next: 20 Great Fishing Boats at the 2019 Miami International Boat Show
The standard Yamaha F300 outboard propelled the boat, with our significant load, to 30 mph in an average of 14.48 seconds. With a lighter load, Yamaha testing tallied 10.43 seconds. I judged a time to plane of about 8 seconds.
Renken took the helm to test top speed, adjusting the jack plate and trimming out the engine for an averaged tally of 44.3 mph at 5,700 rpm, achieving 1.5 mpg. The most efficient cruising speed came at 4,300 rpm and 33 mph, achieving 2.4 mpg.
The 26XO comes with SeaStar electronic power steering standard, so handling is silky smooth. The boat leans safely during turns with no slipping, and bleeds off very little speed. The boat backed easily in both directions despite the running tide.
With midday approaching, we cruised back to the dock with cold drinks in hand. I mentally summarized my thoughts: This boat might have a legendary pedigree, but it is certainly an all-new creation—one that any offshore/inshore enthusiast should put on his or her short list when shopping for new boats.
Power: Yamaha F300 Load: 4 crew, 40 gal. fuel, ice, tackle Top Speed: 44.3 mph @ 5,700 rpm Time to 30 MPH: 14.48 sec. Best MPG: 2.4 mpg @ 33 mph (4,300 rpm)
LOA: 26 ft. 9 in. Beam: 9 ft. 3 in. Deadrise: 17 deg. Dry Weight: 5,900 lb. (w/ engine) Draft: 1 ft. 2 in. Fuel: 107 gal. Max Power: 300 hp MSRP: $134,995 (w/ Yamaha F300)
Regulator Marine Edenton, North Carolina 252-482-3837 regulatormarine.com