Captain's ReportWhat sets Regal apart from other bowriders? The company says quality hardware and construction, backed by excellent service, and they point to not just one but two 2007 JD Power awards for customer satisfaction. They also stress the importance of their patented FasTrac hull, proudly displaying an IMTEC (International Marine Trade Exhibition and Conference) trophy for product innovation awarded in 1997, not long after the FasTrac design was introduced. So how unique is FasTrac? Therein lies one of the more interesting stories of powerboat history.Not long after Regal introduced their FasTrac hull naval architect Harry Schoell filed suit, claiming it was substantially similar to his patented Duo Delta Conic Hull licensed to several boat manufactures. The case dragged through court and then appeal, lasting through April, 2001 when Regal won largely on the courts concern with one definition included in Schoell’s patent, originally filed in 1990. Schoell is often credited as the father of the stepped hull, but was he the originator? Clearly not; it dates back to at least 1910 in wooden hydrofoil racing, though Schoell’s patent largely defines what we consider the modern stepped hull.So what is a stepped hull, and how does it work? My naval architect friends will consider this an oversimplification, but picture the bottom of an ordinary boat. Saw it in half across the boat’s beam, raise the back half of the hull a few inches, and fiberglass the whole thing back together, forming two individual running surfaces, separated by a “step.” This step, which actually slants aft across the bottom of the boat as is goes from waterline to keel, draws air from the surface down under the boat, so the middle of the boat (starting just aft of the step) rides on a pocket of air, thereby reducing wetted surface and drag. This also increases efficiency, at least as Schoell’s patent explains it, because the air pocket in the middle divides the hull into two short, wide planning surfaces, one near the bow and the other near the stern. Since the leading edge of the planning surface creates most of the lift, having two of them makes the boat inherently more efficient. (This is the same principal that makes long narrow airplane wings more efficient than short, wide wings.)The real question, thought, is just how well does Regal’s hull work? Compared to several similarly sized bowriders, with the same horsepower, similar weight, and even roughly the same deadrise, all the variables that should account for a boat’s performance, Regal 2700 was consistently, noticeably faster at top end and more efficient at cruise. Even one lighter boat built by a company known for “go fast” boats posted similar speed, but with 50 more horses in the stern. Stepped hulls have some drawbacks. Early stepped racing hulls were notoriously difficult to control, and my biggest complaint on some modern stepped boats comes from the sudden increase or decrease in drag when running at slower planning speeds. Bump the throttle up just a bit, and as the boat’s speed increases the step becomes more efficient, accelerating more than anticipated, or decrease the throttle just a bit and as the step looses efficiency you’re suddenly off plane. In fact, it was this transition that led to the first successful large seaplane design in 1912, the Curtiss Flying Fish. Adding a step reduced drag and broke the water’s suction, allowing the seaplane to accelerate faster and take off in shorter distances, and the design of the step was tweaked so this sudden transition occurred right around the proper speed for takeoff. Regal's FasTrac hull eliminates these problems (as have several other stepped hulls.) The secret likely lies in the careful use of running surface angles and planning strakes, but whatever it is, Regal has found it. In our tests, the 2700 rose up on plane evenly, without sticking its bow up in the air first. (This is a characteristic of stepped hulls, since they are “lifted” evenly by both ends, not the middle.) The 2700 also handled remarkably well, aggressively carving tight turns with minimal effort on the wheel, and tracking straight with no effort at all. Regal’s hull also didn’t suffer from the jumpiness I mentioned earlier—the 2700 climbing smoothly and predictably up on plane, and back down again. Regal says their success has to do with the angles of running surfaces both ahead of and behind the step, and in the way the water transitions from the front hull to the back—and these differences seem to be at the crux of their successful patent suit defense.So did Regal tread on Schoell’s step design? The court says no, though the ruling focuses more on whether a few degrees, more or less, change the definition of “substantially flat,” just the sort of thing one might expect lawyers to focus on. Either way, one thing has become clear to me, at least judging by other stepped hulls I’ve run: Proper execution of the design requires careful attention to detail. Whether or not Regal developed a new mousetrap is irrelevant at this point. The fact is, their mousetrap works.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Regal 2700 Bowrider is 60.1 mph (96.7 kph), burning 34.3 gallons per hour (gph) or 129.83 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Regal 2700 Bowrider is 41.7 mph (67.1 kph), and the boat gets 2.83 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.2 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 217 miles (349.23 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 375-hp Volvo Penta 8.1Gi gas sterndrive.
Standard and Optional Features
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
|NMMA Certification Other Certification||Yes - 9001 Yes USCG (U.S. Coast Guard)|
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