Regal's 5260 is a big express cruiser that offers a single-level cockpit, unparalleled engine room access, a hardtop and three-sided glass enclosure, a dinghy garage, standing headroom belowdecks, and your choice of two cockpit arrangements, four cabin layouts, and numerous decorating enhancements. Powered by Volvo Penta's IPS tractor drives, it sips fuel and offers the ease of joystick docking.
Because of all the customization possible, dealers don't stock it. Instead, you order the boat as you want it. Delivery is then made to your dealer. These models are sold out well into the 2010 model year, and the price stated is for a 2009 model year boat. Also note that the 5260's unique design affords good "flow" through its single-level cockpit, a huge aft master cabin, great engine access, and ingenious dinghy stowage. But this comes at a price. The boat's layout assumes that you'll always be at a floating dock and, thus, able to use the platform to board. There's no convenient way to step directly into the cockpit from a fixed dock.
But as I've always said, no boat is perfect, and I found much more to recommend the 5260 than not. Its mechanical and electrical rigging are tops. Attention to detail is paid at even the smallest level of fixtures and fittings. And Regal went out of its way selecting systems and equipment to enhance the cruising experience.
THIS IS THE LIFE. To appreciate the single-level cockpit, which resides under the protection of a hardtop and solid glass side windows (those on my tester opened, a $435 option), load up the crew and head out for an evening's jaunt. Everyone has a great view of where you're going, where you've been, and what's passing abeam. No one has to stand or move around as you point out some celebrity's home, a lighthouse, or a pod of dolphin. All of this takes place in climate-controlled, rain-proof comfort.
At the helm, a pair of swanky, adjustable Ultraleather captain's chairs offer long-haul comfort, aided by stainless-steel footrests and bicolor lighting for night passages. Grab the controls and take charge of the twin 435-bhp engines that are purring under the deck. (You can't hear or feel them, but trust me, they're there.) The Volvo Penta IPS 600 tractor drives powering the 17-ton 5260 deliver excellent performance. It's a testament to the efficiency of counter-rotating propellers, which provide huge blade area in a small diameter, delivering thrust through the flat shaft angle of the low-drag IPS drives. The 5260 reaches its top speed of 35 mph quickly while still offering a torquey, confident feel at lower throttle settings. It likes a little tab, but visibility from the helm is excellent. I found the sweet spot at 3100 rpm (26 mph). At that speed, my tester moved fast enough to satisfy most cruisers and burned just 34 gph. It turns on a dime underway, as I proved by cutting U-turns in a channel just a little wider than the boat's LOA.
None of this surprised me, as over the years I've yet to test a Regal that didn't run on a fine-tuned bottom. But there's something special behind the 5260's performance: what Regal calls OPS, or Optimal Performance System, which is a ballast box installed along the keel aft that's shaped to the hull and open at its aft end. At rest, this section of hull fills with water, keeping the bow up by about 2 degrees. As you accelerate onto plane, the box empties and the boat trims itself (and within the normal range of inclination). The OPS moves the 5260's longitudinal center of gravity (LCG) forward of what is normal, without the boat trimming down by the bow when at rest. Regal claims the design works better with IPS and provides a faster no-wake speed. You can see its effect. Throttle down to idle from planing, and the bow will drop. A moment later, the ballast box fills and the bow rises about 2 degrees.
LAY ME OUT. From the swim platform climb about 6' via dual teak stairs to port and starboard to the aft end of the cockpit. Why all the altitude? Hit a switch. The stairs and the aft lounge at their head rise open, providing walk-in access to the engine room, whose rigging is nearly without parallel. You can walk 360 degrees around each engine. You'll find bonded through-hulls, shrink-sealed electrical terminals (except for those on the ground bus), and supported, chafe-protected, and labeled plumbing and wiring. It's a textbook installation of how to rig a pair of diesels for long-term service and easy maintenance.
Aboard my tester was another surprise. Pinned above the engines was essentially a roller trailer bed on which was stowed a RIB. Undo the pins and this ramp angles down and aft. Your dinghy slides into the drink as easy as pie. Later on, just winch it back up. Real slick.
Innovation continues in the cockpit, where the backrests for the aft lounge can be inserted in the aft edge of the sunpad behind it. The portside lounge features an electric backrest that forms a companion seat for the helmsman. An L-shaped, teak-topped bar with an electric grill is at hand. Grills are all the rage, but the 5260's is the first I've seen to boast a down-draft vent. Plus it's located under the opening skylight. This design eliminates grease and smoke from what is essentially an upper salon. A TV flips down from above.
Belowdecks, besides the light pouring in from the seven big hullside windows, the aft stateroom has 6'3" of headroom. There's a queen berth and enough dressers, wood paneling, and marble to please even the most finicky. Note how door and frame grains match. A split head ensures showering and commode use aren't mutually exclusive. The forward stateroom is equally impressive. The salon, too, is luxurious, with gloss-finished cabinets and matte-finished wood flooring.
Comparisons are tough, but check out Fairline's Targa 52 ($1.36 million with twin 800-hp Volvo Penta D-12 V-drives). Of course, aboard the 5260, you choose the layout, the fabrics, the works. You choose between more seating or more stowage. Me? I'd choose to demo ride a 5260 first, then start thinking about colors.