Will Reynolds is only 15, but the lucky bugger already rocks his father’s Regulator 34SS. Meanwhile, his developer dad is co-owner of a Hatteras 68. This father-and-son team are running dream machines and The Captain has been given the green light to take both for a whirl to Rottnest Island.
The Captain is steaming to Rotto again. We can’t get enough of those little furry quokkas or the sweet WA brews flowing from the frosted stainless taps at the Quokka Arms. We’re aboard a duo of dream boats, a Hatteras 68 called Ningaloo and the baby of the Reynolds fleet, a Regulator 34SS. A solid swell is running from the nor-west as the Hatteras carves out a slab of green ocean. Fifteen-year-old Will is running the Regulator abaft of beam, confidently steering the six tonne-plus hull in and out of the wake of the giant Hatteras.
In between climbing giant walls of water, The Captain nervously asks Will how long he’s been doing this — and whether he should actually be at school? “Got the day off mate,” he replies, undeterred and snuggly tucked into his bolster seat. “Wanna open her up?” “Er, maybe when we get to Rotto,” we respond, even more nervously. “She has a top speed of 54-55 knots, thanks to triple F300 V6 Yamahas,” he continues. “It’s paired with the Helm Master joystick system.”
The 900 horses are fitted to the Regulator’s hull via an Armstrong bracket, extending the waterline length 50 inches and doubling as a swim platform. It’s the model known as the SS, which stands for starboard seating, and came about because the North Carolina designers and builders in the US didn’t want “another go-fast open-console boat”.
It’s more of a dual fishing/cruising boat. “It only has one walkway,” says Will about the configuration. “The bit on the other side is replaced with a bait prep station, which is essentially a huge sink with a moulded lid and storage underneath.” We’re partial to a console here at The Captain, so to have one side of it blocked off is a little disconcerting. Will says he was a bit unsure when they first took a demo ride, but soon converted. “We realised we get more protection from the elements. Plus, there’s an upside with more storage for drinks — and you still have 270 degrees of fishability.” Even though “270” doesn’t have quite the same cred as “360”, we’re thankful for the extra protection, given the moist conditions.
THE FINE DETAIL
On the south side of Rotto, we tuck into Salmon Bay and raft up alongside the Hatteras. We take a bit of time to poke our noses around the Regulator SS. This model is fitted with the cruising package, which features a microwave and a cooktop powered by a 1000w inverter “It comes in handy when you’ve caught some dollies,” Will says. “Then you can duck into Rotto and chuck ’em straight on the Kenyon BBQ.”
Up forward, the C-shaped lounge has seating for 10-plus. Under the cushions sits the casting platform, which you can get your toes under and lock in on the coaming pads for popper duties. Under the starboard side of the casting platform is a 2m-long rod locker, which doubles as an insulated fish bin and drains over the side. On the port side is a 1.8m-long hatch. The finishes are smooth and clean thanks to the flush-mounted hatches and anchor well, the recessed handrails and the pop-up cleats and fixtures. The hardtop is an example of Regulator’s commitment to clean lines — a moulded flat panel for flush-mount spreader lights with no capping between the joins.
From the helm, there’s a clean and unobstructed view of the bow through a frameless, tempered-glass windshield. The console features dual footrests, depending on seating position — something some Aussie boat manufacturers could learn from. Inside the console, there’s 1.9m (6ft 4in) head clearance, stepping into a 2m-long double-bunk set-up. Interestingly, the standard 34 console doesn’t have the bunk option.
The downstairs area is air-conditioned, with its own stainless sink, Corian benchtop, toilet, microwave, Isotherm fridge and switching. Good storage has long been the problem for console owners, but the sheer mass of the 34SS overcomes this. Behind the helm seat is a 189L insulated bait tank that can be pressurised. In the deck sits a kill tank and aft of that is a hatch for easy access to the mechanicals, including livebait pumps, seacocks, water separators filters and bilges. On the transom sits a 322L insulated fish box that drains overboard.
With Will’s family history, you might get the impression he stepped straight out of nappies into big white boats, but he assures us he did his time in a 375 Quintrex Dart and worked his way up. “The last boat before the Regulator was a 35ft Wellcraft with twin 350 Yamahas,” he says. “We wanted a boat that could handle heavy seas and One Brokerage had the Regulator.
It ticked all the boxes — for taking the family across to Rotto or as a tender for the Hatteras.” The Regulator may serve the mothership, but she still has to hold her own in big seas. The heavy, hand-built and timber-free lay-up is well suited to these waters. It fulfils the vision created by builders Owen and Joan Maxwell 30 years ago — when they visited a naval architect armed with pictures from magazines and the Regulator legend was born.
As we inspect the XOS rod lockers, wondering if we could stuff Nick the cameraman in there, Will lets slip a little secret. “You can have girls up the front sunbathing.” We assume he’s not referring to family members, and wonder aloud if Will has been secretly whisking his female classmates away for unofficial biology lessons. His grin confirms this as fact, but reading The Captain’s train of thought like an open (comic) book, Will smoothly changes the subject with a few more choice Regulator facts. “It has a 1300L fuel tank, which costs about $2000 to fill. The big 4.2L V6s are very economical. Cruising speeds are about 30 knots, doing under 120L an hour, all-up.” That’s three motors — count ’em.
The Hatteras is named after Cape Hatteras on Hatteras Island, one of a thin strand of “barrier” islands in North Carolina that’s been smashing the shit out of boats for centuries. At the helm of the bigrig 68 is a very responsible-looking gentleman called Michael. He’s wearing boat shoes and an expensive sailing jacket. Will’s dad couldn’t make our test day and we assume this bloke is the stand-in snitch for the old man. The Captain plans to keep him distracted for most of the day.
This Hatteras 68 Convertible is a Hatterasacal model, which means it was delivered to Aussie shores as a demo model from the North Carolina factory — the same part of the world where Regulators are built. The boat spends long stints up north as a 2C charter boat around Exmouth and Ningaloo Reef, hence the name Ningaloo. It’s the only model in the world with an enclosed bridge. The first Aussie buyer forked out $6.4m for her. Today, you couldn’t replace this rig for under $8m.
Power comes from a pair of 1650HP V12 diesel C32 Cats with torque transferred to the wet stuff via a pair of eight-blade Michigan props worth $50,000 each. The motors are mounted to steel beams laid up inside the hull and can push Ningaloo to an impressive 32 knots. Cruising speed is in the mid-20s, burning 450L per hour. And before you choke on your Winnie Blues, just consider that the Hatteras is 70 tonnes of bluewater battleship. The underwater exhaust sounds pretty throaty because when you’re burning 450L an hour, you want bang for your bucks.
Speaking of battleships, the Hatteras borrows its hull shape from the military, with prop pockets sitting on a relatively flat bum. The shafts lie flat, giving the boat positive drive. The leading edge on the tunnel configuration is designed to give it lift when backing up.
She only draws 1.6m, so doesn’t mope around with her bum dragging, and planes nicely at low speeds. Wrapped around the power source is a variable deadrise, double-convex planing hull built with a foam-filled glass stringer system. She has divinycell core in the sides, decks and structure, and resin-infused bulkheads.
Every multimillion-dollar game-fishing boat should have a staircase up to its sky lounge. On the bridge, you’ll find helm seats for the skipper, navigator and co-pilot — aka the bloke who gets away with never contributing to the fuel bill because he tells good jokes on the back decks late at night. Plus, there are twin 17-inch Furuno screens, a 16-inch Raymarine display, autopilot — all the usual primo tech shit.
The boat-management system runs back to a computer that’s controlled at the helm. Then there’s a second, rearward-facing station on the bridge, with controls for backing up on the big dogs. The bridge lounge converts to a bed for the skipper and has rod storage underneath.
For thirsty skippers, the bridge features a wet bar with fridge and icemaker sitting under granite benchtops. Miguel would be in his element in this galley, especially as it sits on the same level as the mezzanine. It features four fridges, a four-burner stove, coffee machine and dishwasher. After a feast of coral trout, you can convert dinner table to coffee table and watch a few episodes of Narcos on the 110cm TV while Miguel whips up a few sweet churros. Downstairs there’s accommodation for 10, which makes The Captain wonder, just who would we invite?
OUR TOP 10 GUESTS
01 Eddie Lawler as skipper — he got the nod over Daniel Kline because of his home-ground advantage
02 Miguel for cooking duties
03 Russ Housby for late-night rigging, rollies and rum sessions
04 Mike Bonnici for popper launching on Abrolhos Islands missions
05 Grant Shorland for mixing drinks
06 Someone to clean up after Grant Shorland
07 Jason Hedges to skipper the Regulator on reef charters — he’s a proven Captain of consoles and fish killer
08 Will to deckie the Regulator — he’s earned this gig
09 Caleb Moore — from the Shockwave mission — for plucking crays and local honey holes
10 Our extremely creative accountant
TANKS FOR COMING
You will need fair dinkum mates to chip in for the fuel bill before you hit the FADS. The Hatteras has an 8000L fuel capacity — three tanks forward and two aft. The front fuel is transferred to the day tanks at the push of a button, which helps disperse the weight and keep things on an, er, even keel.
The fishing deck features eight square metres of fishing space, enough to drop your new Veitch boat onto. The centrepiece is a custom-made Release gamefishing chair, built in Georgia in the US, with a price tag of $28,000. The rear deck is tiered with steps down from the mezzanine, which double as seating to watch the spread. Beneath them are enough freezers to spend weeks at sea chasing big ones. We plan to do just that. As soon as Will returns from his biology excursion.