In what could yet prove an exceedingly cunning sales ploy, the broker blokes from One Brokerage in Perth have used the excuse of a visit from The Captain to entice Regulator 28 owner John Flay out for a burn and a fish on the new Regulator 41. John is now very, very interested in trading up.
An engineer by trade, John Flay has lived in Western Australia all his life. “I’ve been in Perth for about 26 years, and have fallen in love with the sea,” John says. “There’s a group of us and we fish as often as possible. I can launch my boat only five minutes from home and 10 minutes later be at some pretty decent fishing grounds. Co-owner of a Regulator 28, with a Boston Whaler Conquest on the side, John has been lucky enough to have scored a gig chauffeuring The Captain around WA waters — lucky, not because he’s got The Captain as cargo, but because he’s at the helm of a Regulator 41 — and now really doesn’t want to give the keys back. “I’ve been very fortunate to pilot the 41,” John says. “The owner wasn’t able to come out today. It’s a shame I have to return the keys, but no complaints about today — it’s been great. I wouldn’t mind another ride, but I guess I’ll have to make do with my 28 in the mean time.”
Already a convert to the cause, after a day on the 41ft luxury sportfishing beast, John is now officially a Regulator tragic. He reminisces about working his way up through the small boat food chain and how his conversion to the big deep-vee glass monster came to pass. “I had a Trailcraft 5m alloy boat and me and a couple of guys I fish with decided that as we were getting older, we wanted something a bit faster and more comfortable — something to get us out to the fishing grounds quickly and safely. We looked at a heap of boats like Contenders and Yellowfins before we came across the Regulator. We were considering going to the US to test drive one before we bought it, then we discovered the guys from One Brokerage had one. So we drove the 34 and also the 23. Based on those tests we decided the 28 would be the right size for us.”
A big consideration for John and his mates was the Regulator’s stringer system, which works like one solid piece to eliminate stress at the deck, liner and hull joints. Over its 30-year history, the American company has eliminated wood from its build entirely. The boats are made from a composite core with the stringer bonded to the hull with a tough poly-blend adhesive system before fibreglass is applied to the edges. Foam is injected into the stringer transforming it and the hull into a solid unit. This adds strength and reduces noise. “We’ve got pretty heavy sea conditions over here and with that big stringer system under the floor the Regulator sits heavy in the water,” John says. “Chuck in the 24-degree deadrise and they ride well. There is a lot of weight so they tend to use a lot more horsepower and fuel than, say, a Contender, but that weight under the waterline gives you a very different feel.”
SEARCH FOR STABILITY
With all that weight sitting on a sharp deadrise, you might think stability and slowspeed handling might be an issue. Not on the 41. On this model, a Seakeeper5 Gyro stabilisation system and Yamaha Helm Master come standard. “Obviously, it’s a large and intimidating boat to drive,” John says. “But it’s got Helm Master, which allows you to come in and out of the dock really easily. You can slide sideways or rotate the boat with the flick of a switch. It’s also fitted with a gyro and in the pretty ordinary conditions we had out the back today, it was almost like we were on land, it was so stable.” Conditions for The Captain’s Regulator 41 test run had been “pretty ordinary”, to put it mildly. The wind was blowing about 20 knots from the east and there was a 3m swell. John says the gyro made everything better. “At rest, when we were sitting there with the Helm Master just on Spot-Lock, the boat was rocking. We turned the gyro on and immediately it was stable. When we went out to the barges for a jig with the gyro on it was super-stable. I didn’t think it would be that useful, but in such a big boat it was great to have.”
MAGIC CARPET RIDE
As John keeps saying, the Regulator 41 is a big beast, 47.5ft in total length (41ft at the waterline), weighing in a shade under 10 tonne dry and able to carry 2200L of fuel. However, for him it’s mainly about the ride. “One of the main reasons we got into the Regulator was the ride,” he says. “They ride heavily in the water and yet are tight through the corners. So they’re very manoeuvrable and lean over nicely. That 24-degree deadrise gives you a really smooth ride.” John maintains he wasn’t phased by today’s salty conditions. “Both the 34 and the 41 roared around all day,” he says. “We used lots of fuel, had a great time, but never felt unsafe in the boat. The 34 was completely airborne today and the 41 was digging through some really big waves. That big Carolina flare just splits the waves — it’s incredible. This boat is 47ft long, running 1700HP and we drove it like a 5m tinnie! It really was so manoeuvrable — we had it halfway in the air and smashed through the waves. It’s a cracking boat, a lot of fun.”
KEEPING IT COOL
The 41 boasts a wraparound windshield with a vent to keep the skipper from overheating at the helm, while overhead the SureShade awning keeps the rays at bay. “That vent on the windscreen in the console is pretty handy,” John says. “A lot of boats with hard windscreens can get a bit hot inside, so we had the vent open once or twice today. The console’s got air-con as well. It’s got an awning out the front, same as on our 28 — and the 41 has also got a slide-out awning, fantastic for maximising the shade and an ideal boat in summer.”
It’s not only cooler, but the Regulator is actually way more comfortable than The Captain’s hammock for lounging around. That “best of both worlds” vibe is helped by plush aft-facing seats as well a couple of big boy recliners on the front deck. “The console seating configuration, three across the front and three facing the rear, is pretty handy.”
John says. “It would be fantastic for trolling and good for family days as well. Up front there are a couple of big lounge chairs with stubby holders either side and an esky built in, and then there’s the automatic table with seating for five or six people. On a nice night, it would be a great spot to sit with the girls and have a few beers over dinner. It’s not something we’ve got on the 28.” The Captain notes that the table also doubles as a sunbed. Just saying.
NOT ON THE 28
John gets a slightly envious look on his face as he tallies up the features on the 41 conspicuous by their absence on his 28 — seats for starters, and a dive door. “We don’t have one on the 28 because we predominantly fish, but I want one now, it’s fantastic! John says. “It’s great for divers, obviously, but also for hauling in big fish.
The slide-out barbecue is also pretty good. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to use it today.” He’s also impressed with the abundant tucked-away storage all around the boat for gear, bait and prey, which is something his 28 does have. “The 41 has a similar set-up in the back to our 28 — it’s got a couple of live tanks and refrigerated storage. We put fish in there — and beer.” Then he brightens up, realising his 28 has something the 41 doesn’t. “Outriggers! This boat doesn’t come with outriggers. Our 28 is fully rigged with outriggers.”
A good solid, safe ride is John’s number one on the love-list on the Regulator, but the sheer quality and appointments of the 41 aren’t far behind. “The videos describe it as ‘next level’ — and it is. You pay more for it, but it really is a beautiful boat. The paintwork and upholstery is exceptional and the fit-out and finish top-shelf. The grey colour scheme on this 41 is similar to our 28 — and the stainless steel work immaculate.” The cabin boasts a double bed, galley kitchen, full-size hot-water shower and head — plus an LED TV and Polk Ultramarine sound system. Back in the console, the electronics department is stuffed with Garmin gear. “The Regulators come with either two or three seven-inch Garmins,” John says.
As we couldn’t help but notice during the course of the day, in the grunt department the Regulator 41 is an over-achiever, with four Yamaha XF425 four-stroke engines lashed to the stern. “That’s 1700HP worth of Yamaha V8s,” John laughs. “We got 51 knots out of her today in very ordinary conditions — she’s a fast boat. You’ve got four big props in the water and she’s got a lot more midrange punch than our 28. Top end is about the same, but we sat on 41 knots coming home and she was cruising so smoothly we were sitting having a beer!
THE LAST WORD
John reckons a centre console is a fishing boat, but the Regulator is more than a fishing boat. “They aren’t cheap and use a lot of fuel, but if you’re a serious game fisherman you could do marlin comps in this boat in just about any conditions,” he says. “The only problem is, the 41 is such a big lump of boat, you could literally be off the fishing spot depending which end of the boat you were at. It would be a good boat to have a day in at Rotto, but it would also be great to take a trip to the Montebellos.
It’s the perfect boat for someone who loves fishing, but also wants to do Rotto days with the family. Er, someone like me!”
When Joan and Owen Maxwell started Regulator Marine in Edenton, North Carolina in 1988, all they wanted to do was build a boat. Instead they reinvented the centre console. The first Regulator was launched that year followed by the Regulator 26 in 1990 and the 21, 23 and 32 models over the next decade. When the Regulator 26 won the “Best Up and Coming Centre Console” gong from Sport Fishing Magazine, the legend was born. The first Regulator 41 was launched in 2015. The company is renowned for its “offshore life” mission statement: to build each sportfishing boat by hand with a hull comprised of four solid pieces and no wood. Each boat is tested “against the challenging conditions of the Outer Banks” — the offshore islands that separate mainland US from the North Atlantic.
“Rotto” as the locals know it, is 10nm west of Fremantle. The 19sq m island is a nature reserve with 63 beaches, lots of coral reef action and good fishing offshore — but no spearfishing, that’s prohibited. The local population of about 300 people, plus numerous marsupial quokkas, gets a boost when thousands of tourists invade during the holiday season. And because it’s so close, Rotto has always been a favourite destination for any Perth local with a boat.
As John Flay puts it, they’ve only got a few islands in WA, but Rotto, with its crystal-clear waters, is the jewel. “There are a few sharks, but they tend to leave West Australians alone!” he says. “We do lots of family holidays over there — I have the boat over to Rotto seven or eight times a year, as well as going across with the boys. We do a pub run, go for a fish, have lunch and come home. It’s a friendly place, a great lifestyle. And while we didn’t catch that many fish today, we usually do pretty well!”