The water was flat-calm but I was excited to jump in and catch some waves anyway, thanks to the new Regal 2100 RX Surf Edition. Once I hopped off the transom and grabbed the short tow rope, the driver of the boat pushed a few buttons on the Regal View system to adjust the wake and hit the throttle. Before I knew it, I was surfing for the first time on a man-made swell.
Wakesurfing might be the coolest new tow sport to develop in boating in the past 50 years. It’s low-impact and the basics are fairly easy to master, so kids and adults can all enjoy it. The only caveat — it’s not really a tow sport. Sure, you use a tow rope to start, but once up and in the sweet spot of the boat’s wake, you use the power generated by the wave, not the boat. To do so you have to get ridiculously close to the transom, a fact that previously made it safe to enjoy only behind V-drive and inboard boats with six-figure sticker prices. Earlier this year, Volvo Penta introduced its Forward Drive, which has a lower unit like a sterndrive but with the props facing forward — so that they pull the boat rather than push it, like Volvo’s innovative IPS system for diesel engines does. We first tested the drive in a Bryant 233X Surf Edition last fall, but behind the Regal 2100 RX, I actually got to surf the waves.
The Forward Drive tucks the props in front of the drive rather than sticking out behind, with the extended swim platform adding an extra layer of protection. With the RX package, you get upgraded upholstery and graphics plus the PowerTower — a boarding must-have that raises the tow point up and closer to the boat’s center of gravity, eliminating rider pull during elevated tow sports like wakeboarding and wakeskating. It’s tricked out with speakers and swiveling board racks, and it lowers with the push of a button for trailering or transiting under bridges.
The Surf Edition adds the Forward Drive, the Regal View helm — a touch-screen master command multifunction display — surf tabs and a ballast system. With Regal View, the driver can set the controls and adjust the surf tabs to the rider’s preferences and then set the boat so that it automatically accelerates to the desired speed and makes the boat list to either port or starboard to help sculpt the wake to the rider’s preferred side. Two 80-gallon ballast bags sit under the sun pad to either side of the transom, and a third one fills up the insole locker in the cockpit. They fill with water at the push of a button on the Regal View.
Being goofy-foot, I had the driver set the boat to the starboard side so I could face the wave, and with help from an onboard pro, I quickly got up and eased into the standing wave. I rode for about 20 minutes but could have done it for hours. With the speed set to around 11 mph, falling didn’t hurt, and with no bindings on the board I had no fear of tearing up my knees. I can attest to the addictive appeal of this sport.
That’s where Regal and other builders are hoping to cash in on the Forward Drive. Whereas most surf-specific inboard boats have prohibitive costs for casual family boarders, the new fleet of surfable bowriders should be more affordable and more versatile by design. Other boats incorporating Volvo’s Forward Drive include the Four Winns TS222, the Bryant 233X Surf Edition and the Cobalt 24SD WSS. Chaparral and Monterey are also developing models around the Forward Drive.
So you can surf behind it, but how does the Regal 2100 RX Surf Edition stack up while on plane? Pretty darn well. It’s still the same Regal FasTrac hull, which adds a step underneath to improve efficiency and ride attitude. With the 300 hp Volvo Penta engine I broke 50 mph, a few miles per hour faster than when we tested the 2100 RX with a 225 hp Volvo mated to a traditional sterndrive in 2013. I actually found the handling to be more responsive and nimble at the helm. Regal attributes that to the forward-facing drive, which keeps the props in a constant flow of water. This proved particularly true handling around the docks and in reverse. The only thing I found confusing was trimming the drive; in shallow water, trimming down actually tucks the drive farther under the boat. To get shallower in a traditional sterndrive, you’d trim up.
The 2100 RX Surf Edition is well equipped to keep the crew comfortable, starting with the aft sun pad. Its cushions can convert into aft-facing rumble seats. Each side lifts on gas struts for access to the ballast bags. Note that, even with the PowerTower, Regal still adds a tow eye to the transom to accommodate skiing and tubing. Comfortable seating wraps around the transom to a rear-facing recliner at the port console that can hold two loungers. Two passengers can lounge, or four can sit, in the bow. But the best place to be, in the case of the Regal 2100 RX Surf Edition, is in the water behind it.