Regulator 23 Boat Test

North Carolina’s Outer Banks throw up some treacherous seas, so US-based Regulator Marine and a renowned naval architect fine-tuned a weighty hull with the shape and strength to cut through and tame those seas, while providing an exceptional platform for serious sportfishing. It’s a recipe with a lot of application over here too, as John Ford discovered on a stormy day off Sydney.

Regulator 23 Boat Test

Boat Test Regulator 23: TRIAL BY STORM
Author and photography: John Ford

This boat test ran in ISSUE 120 of BlueWater magazine – NOV-DEC 2016

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here

Few fishing boats ever reach cult status, but there are some that are continually copied within the industry or restored and revered by devoted owners. The early US Bertram hulls inspire such a following and, according to Australian Regulator Dealer Glen Moltoni, are now reflected in the current Regulator boats.

In 1988 the American husband and wife team, Joan and Owen Maxwell set out to build an offshore boat capable of mixing it with the best. They commissioned naval architect Lou Codega to bring Owen’s ideas together in the form of an 8m boat purely dedicated to fishing the wild waters of America’s Outer Banks.

From humble beginnings in Edenton, North Carolina, Regulator Marine has grown to include a range of centre-console models between 7 and 12m. These were all designed by Codega and feature a very distinctive 24-degree deadrise and an Armstrong bracket on which an array of Yamaha engines are mounted. All have been built without concessions to saving weight, quite the opposite in fact.

Their theory was that a big heavy boat with a deep-vee would be better at parting the waves and thus deliver a softer ride, with static buoyancy assisted by a wide beam and the efficiency of keeping weight low in the hull –as a centre console does.

Survives The Wild Ocean

Part of the Regulator’s reputation is built on the story of the unmanned voyage of the 8m Queen Bee. In 2008, a mishap saw two fishermen separated from their boat off the Nantucket coast. They made it to shore but the boat drifted away and was presumed to have sunk until it turned up 3000NM away off the Spanish coast three-and-a-half years later. It was covered in crustaceans, but essentially intact with engines still mounted and only a bent T-Top and a few broken hatches for its troubles.

Over the years Regulators have evolved from spartan fishing platforms into boats with more of a dual role. One of the reasons for this is that the market has come to demand concessions to comfort so that the whole family can enjoy the boating experience. These days Joan runs the business side as President of the company, while Owen devotes all his energies to development and design.

In accordance with its cult status, Regulator Marine has remained a boutique brand and it has only recently been introduced to the Australian market. Glen Moltoni from One Brokerage has since opened local dealerships in Sydney and Perth.

Sea-Cutting Heft

It might be the baby of the line-up, but at a true length of 8.38m LOA, and weighing in at 2800kg dry, it’s still pretty hefty. The extra length comes courtesy of an aluminium bracket specifically constructed for the boat by Armstrong Nautical Products, while the weight might best be accounted for through appreciating the build process.

The aluminium Armstrong bracket is bolted to the 7cm-thick, fully-composite transom and has a full-width swim platform surrounding a central buoyancy tank to which the engine is attached. Moltoni tells me that locating the engine back from the hull lets the prop spin in cleaner water and works as a fulcrum to help give extra drive and efficiency.

Central to the robust build is Regulator’s ‘Grillage System’– a moulded fibreglass stringer assembly that is bonded to the hull and pressed into place with weights during assembly, then reinforced with bi-axial matting and filled with foam. The single-piece deck-liner is then bonded to both the hull and grillage before the deck capping goes on. This is also bonded down and through-bolted every 15cm with stainless-steel bolts.

Super Strong

Additional touches like filling the interior mouldings of strakes and chines with Polybond add weight and strength. With the entire fully-composite construction permanently fixed together, it creates a monocoque entity that is extremely robust and durable.

On its custom trailer, the all-white hull looks huge and it is here you truly appreciate just how deep the boat is. You also get a good look at its sharp entry and the big overhangs of the Carolina bow flare.

Most States will impose towing restrictions due to its 2.59m beam. With a BMT weight that will likely go over the 3500kg mark when loaded with fuel and equipment, you’ll probably need a larger American SUV for towing.

Testing In A Storm

We tested the boat offshore from Sydney in a 30-knot southerly that had whipped-up an angry grey sea, sending spumes of spray up the cliffs of North Head. Although it backed off slightly as the morning passed, conditions were still lively as we slipped the lines and headed into Middle Cove to get a feel for the boat before heading to sea.

Moltoni wasn’t fazed in the least by the conditions and reckoned we’d have some fun in what is, in his view, the best boat for its size available anywhere. While reassuring me once again that the hulls were built to tackle the big seas off North Carolina, Moltoni at the same time suggested it might be a good idea to don our lifejackets.

Sure enough, the boat feels bigger than its name suggests. You can attribute much of this to the way the centre-console layout offers unfettered room to move. The boat has a very clean design, preventing anything getting hooked up on obstacles as you work your way around it. Spacious and workmanlike, a busy crew should have no problems moving around, even during a frantic bite.

Uncluttered Cockpit

The interior sides were clear of any storage options for rods and gaffs, presumably in an effort to minimise obstructions. However, there were ample alternatives in place so that shouldn’t be a concern. Similarly, the gunwales are snag-free, with grab rails recessed, but still readily accessible. Most mooring lines are led through hawsers to cleats at a lower level, which in turn are mounted out of harm’s way.

Wide, padded coamings add a well-finished and practical benefit for serious fishing, offering secure and comfortable leaning positions while braced against the gunnel fighting fish or taking a leader. There is ample room for your feet underneath.

Bow seating is another of the concessions Regulator has recently included to give the boat more family appeal. Padded cushions can be clipped in for a day out on the water but stored away in the shed when not needed to leave an easy-to-clean interior. Without the cushions, the seats act as forward casting decks, with an infill to make the bow even more practical for anglers.

Storage Options

Hatches tilt on piano hinges to reveal monster 151L storage lockers. For ease of access, gas struts have been fitted to keep them open at 90 degrees. All openings have rubber gaskets to seal the holds and come with moulded drain channels around the rim for added water protection. Two cup-holders each side are hidden out of harm’s way under the deck and a pair of flush-mounted waterproof speakers send music forward.

Like a lot of American boats, the anchoring system is minimalistic. A hatch in the bow has a rope and anchor locker and pop-up cleats are fitted to secure the rode, but that’s it.

A 331L fishbox in the floor has a macerator, which drains overboard, along with all the other tanks onboard.

Forward of the console is a twin seat with a pair of armrests that can be foldedunobtrusively into the backrest. The well-padded seat base folds forward to provide easy access to the large insulated icebox built-in below. The T-top support creates extra grab-holds for anyone sitting there while underway.

Shelter And Toilet

In my opinion the T-top is an essential option for local conditions. It fits seamlessly into the look of the boat and offers a level of protection from the elements that would be most welcome under a northern sun. It could also serve as a base for the side curtains I wish we had brought along in the freezing southerly gale.

The console itself is a pared-back moulding that still leaves more than enough room for fishing, without giving away too much weather protection or room at the helm.

An opening to starboard gives step down accesses to a utility room with a Porta Potti. An electric toilet with holding tank is also an option, and there is plenty of room for storing wet-weather and safety gear in a handy lockable space.

A pair of Simrad NSS12 Evo2 screens for GPS and sounder were neatly packed into the narrow dash, as well as a VHF radio, two cup-holders, Yamaha gauges, Lenco trim tab, small lockable glove box and other accessory switches.

Behind the helm, a well-positioned leaning post supports you when driving and provides storage room below, as well as a four-slot rod rack at the back. At almost 2m, the screen protected us from much of the elements as we set off to conduct speed trials in the sheltered waters around Watsons Bay.

In the cockpit there’s easy access to the bilge and pumps, as well as a freshwater shower and a raw-water washdown. To starboard there’s an 87L livebait tank lined with light blue gelcoat, while a generously-sized icebox is positioned on the other side. A fold-out dicky seat at the transom should be sufficient to fit two crew members.

Powering Through

The builder’s relationship with Yamaha means that it is the only engine option available. The 300hpis considered the most appropriate engine and therefore it’s the only one offered. No problem; it’s a good match, and Yamaha are an excellent and reliable Japanese-made product.

Hole-shot was pleasantly quick and with the motor well back and shielded by the transom it was hardly audible. We were planing at 12kts around 3500rpm and held a steady cruise of 26kts at 4500rpm. Although relatively well protected from the wind, there was still a short 1m chop across the bay, but the Regulator ate it up at its maximum 5500rpm and a two-way average of 36kts.

Sea Star power steering is light to the touch and very responsive. The hull turns well and without cavitation, even with the power piled on in slower manoeuvres.

It may not look like it in the photos taken from the deck of a 13m cruiser, but a four- to five-metre swell was enough for the boat to disappear into some of the troughs, and for us to get airborne without trying too hard over the crests. The Regulator 23 handled impeccably, keeping up a steady 18 to 20 knots into the seas, and running back at 25 to 28kts without a hint of broaching.

We did get a bit wet when angling across the breeze, and although the big flare threw most waves to the side, the wind inevitably brought some of it back. Side clears would have helped, however, the conditions were hostile so a bit of water was to be expected. This was a small price to pay for the benefits and extra room a centre-console provides.

Dropping the throttles back, we came to rest and the boat turned beam-on without rolling enough to preclude fishing, and in complete safety. Any thoughts that the deep-vee would result in excessive instability at rest were immediately extinguished.

Very Impressive

I would probably have been won over by the Regulator 23 even if we had tested it on a flat sea, but my time onboard in rough conditions was enough to convince me that this is indeed an exceptional boat. If there’s a more capable, safer, softer ride in its size I’d be very surprised.

Unfortunately, this class of vessel doesn’t come cheap. It hasn’t been enough to dissuade three local buyers already. The line starts here.


  • Impeccable finish and looks.
  • An exceptional sea boat with a soft, safe ride.
  • Lots of room and good ergonomics.


  • People: 8
  • Rec. HP: 300
  • Fuel: 564L
  • Water: 79L


  • Type: Centre-console monohull
  • Material: GRP
  • Length: 7.1m
  • Beam: 2.59m
  • Weight: 2812kg (dry)
  • Draft: 0.55m


  • Make/model: Yamaha F300
  • Type: V6, fuel-injected 4-stroke
  • Weight: 255kg
  • Displacement: 4200cc
  • Gear ratio: 1.75:1
  • Propeller: 17-inch

Options fitted: T-top, trailer, electronics and power-steering.  

Regulator 23 Boat Test

Boat Test Regulator 23: TRIAL BY STORM
Author and photography: John Ford
Supplied by: One Brokerage

This boat test ran in ISSUE 120 of BlueWater magazine – NOV-DEC 2016

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here

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