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Regal 2860 Window Express

How many express cruisers have you seen lately that can lay claim to a bright, open, well-ventilated interior? Although we’re living in an age that touts innovative marine design, these days many of our sporty midrange express cruisers proffer the same long, tubular, gloomy, virtually airless interiors that first characterized the genre years ago, despite the liberal usage of opening hatches and skylights.

Here’s good news, though. Examine these photos of Regal’s 2860 Window Express, paying special attention to the forward portion of the stylish, reverse-sheer profile. Notice the pair of large, flush-fit, cat’s-eye windows that are located in the cabin sides, just below the Taylor Made windshield. Then notice the dark, mask-like band across the cabin’s leading edge—it contains two more large, flush-fit windows cleverly installed to give them a more upward-facing (read: light-collecting) orientation. Tap into an express-style interior with these four sunbeaming beauties, as well as a big Bomar foredeck hatch and a couple of opening ports in the hull sides, and you’ve got some seriously upbeat living spaces. To heck with gloominess!

Other features add to the felicity quotient. For starters, although the 2860’s interior layout is conventional, with a midcabin aft, a U-shape convertible dinette forward, and head/galley/lounging area in between, it’s got some savvy touches. The absence of filler cushions to fool with when converting the LeatherCrest-upholstered dinette for sleeping is an excellent example—you use the seat backs! Another example is the midcabin’s practicality. Its mattress is thick, queen-size, and eminently snoozable, and the space is genuinely useful, thanks to sit-up headroom (for a person of my 5’11” stature), a privacy curtain, a screened, opening port at the head of the berth, reading lights, and a couple of near-duffle-bag-size lockers to nix the unconscionable practice of retiring amongst one’s personal effects.

The cockpit’s pretty darn practical as well. Thanks to a nifty flip-flop seat back and a fold-down bench along the transom, the after seating arrangement to port does triple duty as either a traditional aft-facing/forward-facing lounge, a dinette area with hi-lo table, or (with an assist from the table and filler cushions, which stow easily in a slot-like gunwale locker) a whopping sunpad. And if multifaceted componentry doesn’t do it for you, consider the Corian countertop-equipped wet bar (with removable 36-gallon Igloo cooler) to starboard and the integrated radar arch with lights and speakers. Fun-friendly? Oh, yeah!

Of course, even sunpad enthusiasts need to zoom off into the sunset occasionally. And to get a better handle on how the 2860’s engine room is laid out, take another look at the photo gallery. Obviously, entry is gained easily via an electro-hydraulic engine-hatch actuator. But wrench-swinging room inside is limited, mostly due to the jam-up presence of two V-6s, an optional 6-kW Kohler genset, mechanicals for the VacuFlush MSD system, poly tankage for water, batteries, battery charger, and lots of wire runs. Still, maintenance access to most everything seems reasonable once the hatch is powered all the way up.

I sea trialed our 2860 in Florida on Tampa Bay, gathering data in the morning in two-foot seas. My experience at the helm was pleasurable in most respects, although I was no fan of the Morse mechanical engine controls that have two widely spaced trim switches on the port lever; the spacing made it tough to trim both drives with my thumb simultaneously. Top speed was fast, though (47.1 mph), and visibility was excellent (although momentarily obscured by the bow rise coming out of the hole), not only when I used the fold-up bolster in the swiveling helm chair but also when I was fully seated. Faria gauges were installed in a faux-burl aluminum panel for easy readability, and the power-assisted Teleflex rack-and-pinion steering felt smooth and steady.

So I’m a boat nut, and for no good reason other than my inalienable right to pursue happiness in these United States, I took the 2860 out for an impromptu spin later in the day, after I had finished the official test. Sea conditions were different—messy, confused three-footers prevailed, not two-footers. And guess what? The boat felt different, too. Where the morning’s smoother sea state had favored sporting crisply around at the top of the rpm register, rougher conditions were now keeping me well within the midrange, a realm that seemed less oomphy and responsive by comparison.

Some days later, Regal’s propulsion engineering manager Randy Gills clarified the issue. On our Volvo Penta-powered test boat, Gills explained, Regal had decided to experiment with an optional, top-speed-boosting 2.32:1 gear ratio, as opposed to the 1.95:1 ratio the company was already having good results with. Moreover, to compensate for the diminished rotational prop-shaft speeds inherent in the higher ratio, Regal had mounted F7 prop sets (with more pitch, among other things), not the F4s the company normally mates with Volvo Penta’s 4.3 DuoProps.

“The top end you got with 2.32:1 was a couple of miles per hour faster than what we’re getting with 1.95:1,” Gill went on to explain to me. “But nevertheless we’ve decided to stick with the lower ratio exclusively to optimize cruising performance, which means better speeds, fuel economy, and handling in the midrange where our customers tend to operate their boats most of the time.”

Sensible idea? I’d say so. Particularly if the strategy adds a little rough-water handling finesse to what is already a sweetly designed and assembled express cruiser with an interior that’s as bright and shiny as a solarium.

Regal Marine Industries
(407) 851-4360

This article originally appeared in the April 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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