The trick to building a cruise-worthy express in the 32-foot range is engineering multiuse features into a relatively compact and sporty hull. The design has to include cheery surroundings below and ample entertainment space on deck. That was Regal’s target in its new 32 Express, and if the other brand offerings were bull’s-eyes, this one split the arrow.
As it approached our dock, we noted lines that weren’t necessarily unique, but Regal’s inclusion of sweeping salon side windows as points of style was. The overwhelming effect was the thought “This must be longer than 32 feet.”
Increasing the playground feel was its single-level cockpit sole. The only step down was to the Flexiteek-adorned extended swim platform ($1,846; Flexiteek, $4,869). Dividing the cockpit from the platform is another convertible feature, the aft lounge. This one is button actuated, and it slides the seating aft, opening the cockpit and still leaving walkabout space on the swim platform. But wait, there’s more! Lay the seat back down for still another double-width sunning lounge. Better bring plenty of sunscreen. Monterey does this aft sun pad thing well on its 32 Sport Yacht ($273,070 with twin 300 hp Volvo Penta V-8 300C EVC Duoprop sterndrives) too, but it nods to Italian style by rounding the ample sun cushions, which is stylish but reduces reclining area.
It was only three steps up to the Regal’s foredeck, and these were wide with Flexiteek sole, offering confident footing for managing the anchor. The windlass itself was set on a flat “pad” giving a secure platform while working. As expected, Regal made great use of the foredeck with nonskid surfaces optioned up with double-wide sun pads. Access forward was unobstructed by hatches thanks to the divided midcabin half-moon hatches, with a forward round hatch forming the apex of the triangular arrangement.
The salon was clearly patterned after full-size yachts with gloss-finished woodwork and gleaming hinges and latches. The galley to port boasts an electric single-burner range, microwave and fridge — all adorned in stainless steel. Counters are of granite, enhancing the luxury home appeal. There’s nothing unusual about the centered circular lounging area, comfortable as it is, but there’s a trick in that it serves to add comforting space to the salon as well. If you move a couple of cushions and flip up the lounge backrest, the convertible half-berth ($577; innerspring mattress, $617; bedding, $1,154) is sized for queens or better. Tuck it away and convert the salon back to entertaining space in just a couple of seconds.
A side benefit of the higher single-level helm deck is the better headroom in the aft berth below. Ours was fitted with twin berths that when zipped together create a king-size bed, the only one we are aware of in this size cruiser. Access to them was cozy, but not cramped.
The head compartment offers breathing room with an easy-to-maintain, full fiberglass enclosure featuring a stainless-steel sink, granite counters and a flushing china toilet. The effect is highlighted by the cheery side-glass lighting that I noted earlier.
For convenient maintenance, Regal equipped the engine room with a power-lift hatch. There is no shortage of stowage for gear on deck or clothing in the compartments below. As it should be, the switch panel is set at an easy height and protected but offers convenient access in the salon below. Dual 30-amp shore-power connections were stacked to port on the transom and protected inside the platform area.
It seems a shame to save the best for last, but the ride was what surprised us. In pocket cruisers, there’s plenty of room for error, and I’ve actually been in one that lost a galley cabinet while navigating choppy seas. But we ramped this one up on plane quickly and doubled back, building steep wakes that barely nudged it as the boat cleaved through them with its 21-degree deadrise hull. Acceleration was sprightly as the boat tipped onto plane in 5.4 seconds. The stopwatch barely struck nine seconds at 30 mph. Few sport boats do this so well. Its top speed was rewarding too, but what I’ll never forget is the sporty way it stuck in hard-over turns. I’m not usually one to try to break the boat in performance testing — especially when there’s a passenger aboard with no helm bucket seat or helm itself to grab hold of — but my partner held his seat while I steered into hairpin turns and doubled back on them again. We took some in a slightly trim-up position (bad form, noted) just to try to blow it out, and the 32 Express held its ground, as it also did in a slight trim-down orientation.
If you think more power will better feed your inner Captain Kirk, you can power the 32 Express all the way to 760 ponies with Volvo Penta’s new and highly acclaimed 6-liter, V-8 380 hp gas engine with variable valve timing. Saltwater boaters, especially, will find the added power a bargain when they learn it comes with aluminum-protected exhaust risers and closed cooling to beat corrosion.
As I said, it split the arrow for me as equipped, but more power never turned anybody off!
Comparable model: Monterey 32 Sport Yacht