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Regal 46 Sport Coupe

Driver’s Seat

Highly refined joystick maneuvering and an abundance of thoughtful features make the Regal 46 Sport Coupe a super-sensible cruiser.

While there are many reasons why Regal continues to be successful at building boats after almost 40 years, one of the most significant is a hands-on approach to engineering and design. Certainly, there’s no question that computerish hoop-de-doodle helps serve the cause of product development at this family-owned company. But real-world, nitty-gritty testing during cruising extravaganzas by company employees and principals plays a big-time 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 most boaters, I’m an outdoorsy kinda guy. So I was an instant fan of the 46’s breeze-beckoning, Bahamas-vetted saloon, with its starboard-side helm station and wet bar (with Corian countertop, Vitrifrigo undercounter reefer, and optional Kenyon electric grill) and sprawling U-shaped lounge to port. Flip a dashboard switch and a giant sunroof—a cored, closed-molded part that insulates both thermally and acoustically—zoops smoothly open overhead. Invite more fresh air aboard by pulling back the immense side windows and swinging out the windshield walkthrough. And to complete the conversion to alfresco living, simply open the large bronze-tinted glass door in the after bulkhead. “Feels like we’re outside, not inside,” I told Stoeber.

The cockpit arrangement was equally cruise-worthy. Thanks to a rotating fold-down LG TV over the aforementioned wet bar and an extraordinary lounge setup that offers a choice of port or starboard for your boarding gate, it promises a level of leisure unparalleled this side of a beachy high-end cabana.

The lower deck’s cozier by comparison. Accessed via a stairway, it proffers two ample staterooms—a master forward (with innerspring-outfitted queen berth and en suite shower-stall-equipped head) and a mid-cabin aft (with two singles and a head as well)—and a starboard-side galley and dinette area 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. Even the interiors of the under-sole lockers are lined with soft, sound-absorbent fabric.

Regal’s engineering cred was on display in the 46’s engine room. Shortly after Stoeber hit the switch that raises the big cockpit hatch, I took up a comfortable stance between our two IPS units with the hatch’s underside levitated well over my head. I saw plenty of savvy details. Much of the ancillary equipment was installed against the forward firewall, an acoustically insulated affair separated from our Volvo Penta D6-370 diesels by a spacious 18 inches or so. Wiring associated with the high-end Mastervolt 12/50-3 Chargemaster battery charger was schematically laid out and carefully loomed, as were the hoses serving our two Parker Racor fuel/water separators (each with a manual priming pump and a conveniently located fuel-shut-off valve for easy filter-element changes) and our Groco U-Lube oil-change system. Inwales were gelcoated white and surfaces underfoot were paved with a rubbery Novisorb material (www.noviconusa.com) with a traction-enhancing diamond-plate pattern.   

The average top speed I measured in flat water was 33.3 knots—a solid velocity for a family-style sport cruiser like the 46. As is sometimes the case with vessels designed to accommodate pod-type powerplants, sightlines over the bow coming out of the hole were adumbrated for a few seconds, even with the Bennett trim tabs fully deployed. Once on plane, however, my lines of sight were superb all the way around. Moreover, thanks to a clever fold-down underfoot shelf at the helm, I found I could stand at an elevated level while driving and, with the sunroof retracted, poke my head well above the hardtop—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 the aforementioned acoustically insulated firewall and partly to Volvo Penta’s cushy, free-floating IPS engine mounts.

But it was the 46’s dockside maneuverability that ultimately made my day. “Think I’ll try the Low Speed button,” I suggested as I eased the 46 into the little marina behind the Sanibel Resort & Spa after our sea trial, preparatory to docking stern-to in one of the slips. With a nod from Stoeber, I hit the little button on the binnacle control and proceeded to see how Volvo’s sequential-type transmissions (see “A Groovy Refinement,”) would affect handling via our IPS500’s joystick. The results became apparent as soon as I started my pivot. There was not a hint of herky-jerkiness. No turbulence. Just smooth, quiet, seamless movement as I backed ’er down.

“Wow,” I yelled out the window at Stoeber, who was slapping on a springline at the time. “Now this baby’s a boat handler’s boat!”

And indeed she is. Besides being a spiffy performer with an outdoorsy layout and oodles of wisely engineered details, Regal’s new 46 Sport Coupe offers a level of close-quarters maneuvering finesse that’ll do just about any boater proud.

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This article originally appeared in the December 2012 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.