Weather: Partly cloudy Location: Point Pleasant, New Jersey Wind: South 15 to 20 knots Sea State: 2 to 4 feet Test Load: Four people, 150 gallons of fuel, 35 gallons of water
If you’ve ever fished a Regulator, there are certain things you take as given: smart deck design, top fit and finish, abundant fishing amenities, and tough build. But above all, it’s the kind of ride you only get from a refined deep-V hull. Those attributes have been winning the admiration of fishermen for almost three decades, and the new 31 hits the next level of sophistication and excellence.
The 31 has the classic Regulator look: flared bow, wide gunwales, nicely proportioned center console, lots of fishing room on its bow-to-stern level deck, as well as an Armstrong bracket, which on the 31 carries a pair of Yamaha F300 outboards, providing all the power you’ll ever need.
At the bow, the 31 features a large anchor locker with a Lewmar windlass. The forward seating arrangement includes three large compartments with overboard drains and gasketed hatches. The forward insulated compartment is a great place to keep drinks, food or trolling baits chilled. The other two can be used for stowage or fish boxes. Forward seating is easily fitted with plush cushions for relaxing or entertaining, and both port and starboard sides incorporate flip-up backrests that convert them to forward-facing lounge chairs. A deck hatch between those provides access to the massive below-deck macerated fish box, big enough for more than a few tuna.
Recessed bow rails extend aft to the helm area, providing a handhold when going forward. Like all the pipework on our test boat, the rails were done in white powder coating for a clean look that complements the white decks, gunwales and console. Thigh-level bolsters provide comfortable places to lean when fighting fish and act as backrests when relaxing on the bow seating.
The console reflects years of refinement, leaving plenty of room on both sides to move around. The height provides visibility forward, even for those of us who aren’t basketball players. There’s an insulated cooler under the forward console seat and, on the port side, an access door to the head compartment, which houses an electric toilet, composite counter with stainless sink, and access to the electronics, batteries, switches and the breaker panel. A neat foldout rod rack inside stores three outfits vertically.
The Regulator’s helm area, one of the most thought out you’ll find on any center console boat, is designed to fit two 16-inch Garmin LCD screens with digital engine controls and switch panel, and angled upward to meet your eyes and hands. A lower surface mounts the tilt wheel, and Lenco trim tab and windlass controls. There’s even a place to put your cellphone and glasses, as well as a glove box and a pair of cup holders with drains. The underside of the T-top, color-matched to the hull, holds a molded-in radio box, spreader lights, and Taco Grand Slam 380 lowerable outrigger bases. The plush helm chairs fold up for standing while running, and they include fold-down armrests and four rod holders across the back to supplement the five on the aft edge of the T-top.
In addition to the standard livewell in the transom, our test boat came equipped with the optional above-deck livewell under the seat, but a comprehensive tackle station is available too. The roomy cockpit incorporates a hull door to starboard for easy boarding, swim access, and for dragging in oversize tuna. A wide bench-style seat concealed in the transom deploys easily with one hand. A bait/fish box sits in the transom, alongside the standard livewell.
I fished the 31 with my hosts from Comstock Marine in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, on a gusty morning with large waves from the south. Headed straight into a substantial head sea on our way to a nearby artificial reef to drift for summer flounder, we ran fast enough to launch off the faces of the waves. But every time I’d brace for a sharp landing, the hull re-entered with a gentle whoosh. It took the seas well from every direction and at speed. You gotta love the ride. It also drifted beam-to nicely without excessive roll, and the Yamaha Helm Master controls easily corrected the drift speed and angle for positioning over structure. After fishing, performance testing at full throttle gave us a tad over 50 mph, but even more impressive was the way the hull handled tight turns at crazy speeds, digging into them like a sports car, with no prop cavitation, surprises or excuses. Cruising at 4,500 rpm, the center console nearly reached 40 mph, with a respectable fuel economy of 31.5 gph.
All things considered, the new 31 could very well be Regulator’s best hull-and-engine package to date. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it every bit as much as I did. All the other great features are just the icing on the cake.