Volvo Penta’s Forward Drive opened up the market for sterndrives to compete with V-drive tow boats in the popular wakesurf market. However, more than one manufacturer found that shaping a stellar surf wake isn’t as simple as adding ballast, throwing on a set of generic surf tabs, and swapping to Forward Drive to keep the prop out of harm’s way. Regal is one manufacturer that seems to have found the secret sauce. The LS6 Surf 2.0 is one of the best Forward Drive boats we’ve tested to date, producing large wakes with plenty of push, and a deep pocket in which riders can strut their stuff. That the LS6 is also one impressive bowrider when it’s not dishing up waves is just icing on the cake.
Regal’s surf recipe starts with the basics. Forward Drive positions the props at the front of the drive rather than the rear, which tucks the sharp, spinny stuff well under the hull and creates a safer zone behind the boat for the rider. Ballast, in this case 2,000 pounds of water pumped into bags positioned at the bottom of both stern storage compartments and the forward of two in-sole compartments, settles the hull deeper into the water to substantially boost wake size. That 2.0 upgrade includes new pumps to fill bags faster and more quietly than on previous models. Forward Drive can then exploit electric trim, an advantage not found aboard V-drive boats, to alter the boat’s running angle and further influence the wake’s size, shape and length.
The LS6 Surf clearly benefits from all these features, but it’s those surf tabs—oversize transom-mounted trim plates that move up or down to influence the flow of water coming off the hull—that arguably have the most profound influence on the surf wave. And here, Regal has clearly done its homework. Specifics are proprietary, but Regal started with tabs from Wake Worx, modified them to its individual specs, and matched them to work with the LS hull design. The result is a wake that features an exceptionally deep pocket, and our test riders found it to be taller and more robust. Riders also enjoyed plenty of push at nearly every point along the way and a clean, firm wave face.
Another approach with which manufacturers have had solid results with surf waves is to license Malibu’s Surf Gate. Using technology proven on the builder’s popular V-drive models, Surf Gate consists of vertical tabs that pivot outward from transom corners to create an impressive surf wave. Both Chaparral and Cobalt currently use the technology with good results. Similarly powered, Chaparral’s 26 Surf starts at $169,672 and Cobalt’s R6 Surf at $189,624.
Speed, ballast, trim and tab deployment are all easy controlled at the LS6 helm via Volvo Penta’s Water Sport Control integrated into a pair of touchscreens that incorporate audio-system controls as well as all of VP’s Glass Cockpit functions, including engine and navigation data. For 2022, displays have been upgraded to 9 inches. Enter and save the preferred settings for up to three riders, then instantly recall them without the hassle of reentering individual settings.
Interior and Accessories
Turn your attention from the wake potential to the interior and the LS6 continues to impress. A cockpit redesign added 6 inches to the interior beam, allowing seating to extend from inwale to inwale. It also flows seamlessly fore to aft, from the consoles to the swim platform. Twin benches to port and starboard morph into double-wide helm and passenger seats, both of which feature pivoting backrests to allow occupants to face forward while underway, or aft when socializing or taking in the action astern. Regal’s Comfort Curve notches out what would otherwise be a comfort-stealing right angle between these seats as they flow aft to the UltraLounge, a pair of sun-pad-like benches that extend from the cockpit edge to the swim platform and flank a center walk-through. Both feature pivoting backrests that can face forward or aft. Recline the backrest to form a chaise. Pop up a hinged section tucked into the bottom cushion and create a rumble seat that’s great when using the swim platform to gear up or relax at the sandbar.
Oversize, beefy stainless-steel grab handles atop seatbacks make it easy to pivot both backrests into position and offer handholds while moving between the cockpit and platform. Multidensity foam in seat cushions doesn’t bottom out, providing exceptional comfort. Storage stretches 6 feet below port and starboard benches. Forward, the bow cockpit is roomy and deep. As in the main cockpit, storage is available below the seats and grab handles. LED accent lighting and charging ports await within inwale cutouts.
Underway, the LS6 handles like the sporty runabout it is below all the surf and wake extras. Regal’s patented FasTrac hull combines a deep-V forward with a mid-beam step to introduce air under the hull, historically resulting in better top speed potential, superior fuel economy and the ability to hit the same performance targets with smaller, more-efficient engines. Our test boat’s Volvo Penta V-8 350 EVC powered the LS6 strongly out of the hole and peaked at over 47 mph. Crank the wheel into a corner and the hull is quick to respond, with Forward Drive moving the boat’s pivot point forward and creating a more responsive feel than the average sterndrive.
Now, who wants to go surfing?
How We Tested
- Engine: Volvo Penta 350 hp 5.3L 350 EVC V-8
- Drive/Prop: Volvo Penta Forward Drive/Volvo Penta K4 propset
- Gear Ratio: 2.14:1 Fuel Load: 63 gal. Crew Weight: 485 lb.
- Power Tower S2 raises and lowers faster than average, and doesn’t interfere with the helm when lowered while underway.
- Standard Bimini top includes Surf Sleeves, pockets that store surfboards overhead and out of the cockpit.
- Port-console head compartment is rare in the watersports segment. A chemical toilet is standard; upgrade to a pump-out or electric-flush model with a sink and ventilating port.
- Hull is agile and responsive, but can feel a tad twitchy as the driver initiates a turn when combined with Forward Drive.
- Given otherwise exceptional attention to detail, storage revealed exposed wiring that could be damaged when loading gear, and exposed screw threads partially covered in caulk waiting to snag a bare hand.
Pricing and Specs
|Price:||$148,390 (with test power)|
|Max Cabin Headroom:||4’0″|
|Fuel Capacity:||74 gal.|
|Available Power:||Volvo Penta Forward Drive engine package to 380 hp|
Speed, Operation, Efficiency
Regal Boats – Orlando, Florida; 800-US-REGAL; regalboats.com