A pocket cruiser is an express that can be trailered, and this has historically been a tall order to create. Being small enough to trailer meant that enough compromises had to be made that the boat really had to lose its “cruise-ability.” Let’s face it… a V-berth does not make a cruiser. Regal, however, begs to differ and has actually used its design skills for making the most out of usable space to create two functional pocket cruisers, one 26’ (7.93 m) and the other 28’10” (8.79 m) and both with an 8’6" (2.59 m) beam, making them legal for over the road trailering without a permit in all 50 states and Canada and many other countries as well. Here, we take a look at the smallest, the 26 Express to see just how it managed to do it.
The first ingredient has to be keeping the weight in check. Not too many of us have a semi sitting in the driveway just waiting to hook the boat up to. So, in order to make the 26 Express light enough for the Average Joe to trailer weight had to be managed. At an empty weight of 6,200 lbs. (2,812kg), the 26 Express is light enough to be towed by most pick-ups and large SUVs. Regal manages to reduce weight by utilizing a pre-molded cored stringer grid system that not only allows for weight reduction, it adds strength at the same time. More strength is further added in high impact areas such as the bow, where waves will be constantly contacting the hull at higher speeds. The Regal cabinet shop also does its share by using lighter materials. Resin transfer molding (RTM) hatches reduces weight while improving the strength to weight ratio. It all adds up to a lighter boat that is still strong.
The integrated swim platform adds to the measured LOA, so the fact that Regal managed to put so much functionality into a cruiser with usable space that is actually less than the stated 26’ (7.93 m) is impressive indeed. Here, the platform has the usual under-slung reboarding ladder over to the starboard side. A transom shower will allow for washdowns before salty or sandy guests step into the cockpit. SeaDek overlay adds a measure of safety and quite a bit of comfort, as it doesn’t absorb heat. Remember, this is a barefoot area so we strongly recommend this option.
Two port-side molded in steps from the swim platform lead to the cockpit, and with space at a premium, seating and storage are the order of the day here. To port, bench seating occupies the full length of the cockpit, and a flip seatback creates numerous possibilities for this seating area. Start with a forward facing lounge seat and an aft facing seat. Convert that to an aft facing lounge and a forward facing seat by sliding the seatback forward. Bring it further forward and allow it to lie flat and convert the seat to a full length aft facing one while using the padded bolster of the port console as a revised seatback. This concept alone highlights the start of how Regal maximizes space. A simple flip seatback would cut into the useable space, but by making the seatback lie flat, another seat is created, where others simply fail to realize the notion.
To the opposite side, an aft-facing doublewide seat has dedicated storage for a 25-qt (23.7 L) carry-on cooler that can be filled with food at home and loaded on-board. Add the three across transom seating into the mix and the cockpit becomes an intimate gathering and conversational area.
An optional cockpit pedestal table
allows converting the gathering area to a meal time booth-style seating area, or even cocktail, spot. The decking is all non-skid but on a premium-level brand such as this, we’d opt for adding the snap-in sea grass carpeting.
To the stern of the cockpit, the transom seat has a flip seatback allowing a conversion from cockpit seating to an aft facing chaise lounge, and then, with the seatback lying flat where the pedestal would be, converts further to a full-sized sun pad. Regal calls this an Ultra-lounge and it still leaves room for the portside seating.
Regal is no stranger to creating an uncluttered and functional helm console and did not disappoint with the 26 Express. The panel is glare-resistant and populated with Faria anti-fog gauges. We’re happy to see that Regal includes a digital depth gauge. Lenco trim tabs are also included as standard as is the panel mounted stereo remote. The actual head unit is in a protected location in the main cabin.
An optional Garmin 7607
7” (17.78 cm) chartplotter is available to fill a dedicated space in the panel. The windshield is framed in stainless steel and we’d like to see a windshield wiper on the starboard side of the list, but currently it resides as an option.
Managing the bow lines or ground tackle is made easier by the molded in steps integrated into the sliding cabin door that lead to the walkthrough windshield. Rather than bring the trunk cabin right down to the bow, Regal integrates a flat portion of the bow for use as a working area. A dedicated anchor locker and bow roller eases the anchoring procedure. We’d add the optional windlass to make the operation more family-friendly. Just behind, another relaxation place can be had with the addition of the optional bow pad.
A center mounted companionway with an open-tread stairway leads down below. Regal’s use of high topsides keeps the area open and a combination of hullside windows, overhead hatch and screened entryway remove any of those “cave-like” feelings by admitting huge amounts of natural light.
Since it’s quite typical that a small percentage of the time spent aboard will be for overnighting, Regal focused on the area being functional first, and convertible to overnighting second. That’s a concept we agree with. For the cruising couple, there’s the spacious mid-cabin needing no conversion.
, there’s a forward dinette, naturally with the hi-lo table when another berth is needed. When the table is lowered the backrest cushions serve as those filler cushions, meaning that Regal is continuing its ever-present mindset of not having any of the boat equipment taking up any of the owner’s storage space. In other words, we don’t have to go fetch a filler cushion out of storage… it’s right here. Fabric choices for the upholstery are either Distinct Glacier Leather Touch, or Moon Shadow. We’d also add the optional flat screen TV that mounts to the aft bulkhead, to keep the kids occupied.
Again, while the likelihood of someone cooking Thanksgiving dinner in this boat is slim, the option for light meals still needs to be available, and that’s why the galley is kept modest while providing the necessities. Regal’s cabinet department came through with hand-crafted walnut cabinetry adding to the premium look of the area. A single-burner stove, sink, full-sized microwave (some things can’t be compromised on) and a 4.2 cu. ft. refrigerator. The countertops are available in three different colors: Moon Crystal, Hazelnut or Boardwalk.
The head compartment is to port, just opposite the galley and Regal utilizes the “wet head” concept. The interior is all molded fiberglass and includes a vanity, sink, mirror and a pull-out shower wand from the sink faucet.
As far as testing the Regal 26 Express goes, we weren’t able to get our own test numbers but Regal has certainly gotten plenty and reports that with the single Volvo Penta V8-300 turning a DuoProp outdrive, the 26 Express reached an average top speed of 43.2 mph. Best economy was reported to be at 4000 rpm and 25 mph. At that speed, Regal measured a 21.7 gph fuel burn that produced a 165.8 mile range off of the boat’s 72-gallon (273 L) fuel capacity.
She’s an excellent handling boat exhibiting a roughly 5-degree bow high cruise attitude. She does tend to show a good amount of bow rise upon acceleration so don’t be shy about adding power to get her up on top and bring that bow back down to running level. She’s sensitive to the steering and fingertip controls will make any maneuvers feel relaxed to the touch. She has a feel of riding on top of her V bottom and any turns will lean her over to enter the turn, and upon straightening out the wheel she’ll go back to being on top of that V. In other words, she’ll roll into even shallow turns. There’s no pronounced hull grab on the water so any turning won’t feel like we’re being shoved to the outside of the turn. This goes a long way towards keeping the ride comfortable for everyone onboard.
Power and Other Options
Standard power is a Volvo Penta V8-270 turning a DP outdrive. Options include the V8-300 DP or the MerCruiser 6.2 300 B3.
Standard hull color is, not surprisingly, white. Six other colors are available as options. We’d also equip “our” 26 Express with shore power, battery charger, hot water heater, and the PowerTower that really adds a measure of good looks to the Regal 26 Express. It’s available in either black or white.
With the 26 Express, Regal has shown that with the creative use of space and clever design solutions, it can indeed create a usable cruiser in a small package. This boat is easily trailerable and with comfortable sleeping for four it makes an overnighter, or even weekender for two couples or a small family. All in a package with the level of fit-and-finish that we’ve come to expect from Regal.
Standard and Optional Features
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Boats More Than 30 Feet
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
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