A Boater’s Boat
Refined joystick handling and thoughtful features highlight this sensible cruiser.
While there are many reasons why Regal continues to be successful at building boats after almost 40 years, probably the most significant is the company’s hands-on approach to engineering and design. Certainly, there’s no question that computerish hoop-de-doodle seriously serves the cause of product development at the family-owned company, but real-world testing during cruising extravaganzas by company employees and principals plays a major role as well. Indeed, when Regal rep Frank Stoeber welcomed me aboard the new 46 Sport Coupe, one of the first things he did was proudly thumbnail her brief but well-traveled history. “Yeah,” he grinned, “we’ve put quite a few hours on her over in the Bahamas already. Checkin’ ‘er out. Makin’ sure everything works. From the customer’s perspective, that is.”
Like lots of boaters, I’m an outdoorsy kinda guy. So I was instantaneously down with the 46’s topside layout. Flip a couple of switches, and the sunroof (a cored, closed-molded part that insulates both thermally and acoustically) zoops back and the immense side windows retract to let the salty breezes blow through the saloon. Opening the big windshield walkthrough up forward and the sliding door in the after bulkhead only intensifies the wafty, open-air mood.
And the cockpit arrangement? Thanks to a flip-down LG TV, an extraordinary lounge setup and a handy wet bar, it promises a level of leisureliness unparalleled this side of a beachy high-end cabana.
The lower deck’s just as cool. It proffers two large staterooms—a master forward and an amidships cabin (with two singles and a head as well)—with a starboard-side galley and dinette area (opposite) in between. Air-conditioning plenums are numerous, the decking underfoot is easy-to-keep-clean Amtico, and the finish on cabinetry, furniture, and other components is top notch.
The average maximum speed I measured in flat water was 33.3 knots—solid for a family-style sport cruiser. As is sometimes the case with vessels designed to accommodate Volvo Penta’s IPS powerplants, sightlines over the 46’s bow coming out of the hole were adumbrated for a few seconds, even with the Bennett trim tabs deployed. Once on plane, the view was superb, however, all the way around. Moreover, thanks to a clever fold-down underfoot shelf, I found I could stand at an elevated level while driving and, with the sunroof retracted, poke my head well above the hardtop if I wanted—a great feature for running at night or in conditions of limited visibility. Sound levels throughout the rpm register were exceptionally low, partly due to Regal’s sound-and-vibration program and partly to Volvo Penta’s cushy, free-floating IPS engine mounts. And the 46’s dockside maneuverability was, in a word, superb!
“Mind if I try this Low Speed button?” I asked. With a nod from Stoeber, I hit the little button on the binnacle control and proceeded to see how Volvo’s new sequential transmissions would affect joystick-type handling. The results were spectacular. No turbulence at all. Just smooth, quiet, seamless movement.