MANTEO, N.C. — The big center console market will continue to develop during the fall and winter boat show season this year and it might even be deemed rock-solid now that veteran builder Regulator Marine is introducing a 41-footer.
“This is a milestone period of time for us,” Joan Maxwell, president of the Edenton, N.C., company, told me on Wednesday after my test of Regulator’s new flagship. “This puts us in the same market as the other big guns.”
Scout, Hydra-Sports, Intrepid, Yellowfin, Boston Whaler, Everglades and others have already introduced 40-plus-foot center consoles. They take advantage of the higher-horsepower outboards that have been developed during the last decade. Three engine companies now offer outboards of 350 hp or higher — Mercury, Yamaha and Seven Marine.
I had the opportunity Wednesday to sea-trial the Lou Codega-designed center console with four Yamaha F350 outboards, piloting the mammoth open boat through the infamous Oregon Inlet and into a 2- to 3-foot smorgasbord of swells and haphazard chop just off the coast.
Regulator made the boat available to the media this week at Pirate’s Cove Marina in conjunction with the 32nd annual Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournament, where the owners of 56 sportfishing boats — mostly open-cockpit convertibles — are competing. Viking Yachts is fishing the tournament.
“This is a great event that we would never want to miss out on,” Viking president and CEO Pat Healey said Wednesday night, sitting in the saloon of the company’s tournament boat, a Viking 70.
Anglers, their crews, and friends and family gathered Wednesday night for food and entertainment after the boats came in with their catches. Vendors of fishing equipment and coatings and maritime artists had set up display booths along the grounds adjacent to the row of sportfish boats.
“My goal was 60 [participating boats],” said tournament director Heather Maxwell (no relation to Joan). “We almost got there. Next year, we will. The people in the industry really got behind this tournament this year.”
Maxwell said there were only 29 participants last year, but the tourney made a big comeback this year.
Owen Maxwell, Joan’s husband and Regulator’s co-owner, fished aboard the Ann Warrick, a 76-foot custom sportfishing boat from Paul Mann Custom Boats. It was the largest boat in the tourney.
Joan Maxwell, Regulator customer service manager Al Partin and Regulator dealer Jud Black were onboard the 41 for my two-hour sea trial. Partin and Maxwell had given me a detailed walkthrough before we got underway, spending time to point out the attention to detail in components such as the hull-side door, its beefy hardware and an intuitive fold-out boarding ladder.
I have tested most of the Regulator center consoles. They deliver a soft ride with their deep-vee hulls and well-balanced engineering. The 41 was no different. I ran her at about 35 to 40 knots in all directions to the sea. The most impressive characteristic for me was the boat’s ability to climb onto plane at a flat angle with nearly no bow rise and without the aid of any trim tabs — a sign of a well-designed boat.
Top speed was 61 mph, and she cruised comfortably at 45 mph in a 2-foot sea.
The boat comes standard with Yamaha Helm Master with joystick control. The standard price with four outboards is $649,995. The test boat was nearly $800,000 with an optional dual station tower with controls and hardtop, deluxe tackle center outriggers and other features.
Look for the Regulator at boat shows in Newport, R.I.; Norwalk, Conn.; Atlantic City; Fort Lauderdale; and at the Miami International Boat Show.