Regal 38 Surf

Regal 38 Surf

Surf’s Up.

by Kevin Koenig

In 15 years of doing boat tests for magazines, this one remains unique.

Photos: Regal

And that’s because my sea trial of the Regal 38 Surf almost didn’t happen, thanks to a very lazy Biscayne Bay manatee.

The boat was docked at the Venetian Marina just north of the 2024 Miami International Boat Show, which is apparently a hub for the local manatee population. One of the blubbery beasts had decided to take up residence right next to the props attached to the Regal’s powerful twin 380-hp Volvo Penta forward drives. With official “manatee observers” nervously roaming the docks and beckoning us to stay put, the day looked to be in jeopardy.

Luckily, our portly friend soon bobbed off to seagrass unseen, and the sea trial got underway. The Regal 38 Surf needs those mighty Volvos for good reason — it is billed as the largest surf boat in existence. And with that title, it’s got two roles to play: It needs to be nimble enough for a surfer’s needs, but also, with great size comes great responsibility. The 38 Surf can’t just be a surf boat; it needs to do more, and it can. She works as a weekender, a gentleman’s angler, or just a fun, fast cruiser with lots of onboard space and a kicking sound system. Let’s dig in, shall we?

First impressions

As I hopped aboard the Regal I landed in the spacious cockpit. Twin inward-opening dive doors to starboard and port rested on beefy hinges and will make for easy entry to and egress from the water for swimmers and divers. Convertible seating at the transom had a back support that shifted on a hinge to face forward or aft, so guests can either take part in the cockpit conversation or watch the surfer dance on the Regal’s wake out the back.

One thing that I found pleasantly surprising for a wakeboat was that the 38 Surf had two fully macerated and refrigerated fishboxes in the cockpit sole. I speak from experience saying there is nothing like fresh sushi after a good surf, and this boat has you covered in that regard. There was aft-facing seating for four situated amidships. Fold-down armrests here aided in comfort while dedicated stowage below for life jackets helped the Regal gain high marks for safety. Furthering that aim was a rear-facing camera integrated into the hardtop to watch the surfing action while at the helm, and extra lights for low-light setup to ensure everything is prepared properly for dawn patrol.

A notably chunky tow ring was built into the hardtop, solid as a rock. Regal also put high glass doors at both transom entrances, with the idea being to keep both pets and kids inside the boat. As a dog owner and father of two young children, this resonated with me.

Fun times

Of course, the 38 Surf is, at its heart, a wakeboat, so fun is nearly as high on the list of priorities as safety. To that end, the boat is dotted with speakers and subwoofers nearly everywhere one looks, including four of them at the aft end of the transom so the surfer can hear every note.

Amidships there is what might best be described as a refreshment island that has a grill, sink, trash can, extra stowage and lots of counter space for meal prep. The island also has plenty of drawers for silverware, fish tackle and whatever else you need for your adventure. Another nice touch is that above the grill there is a separate MFD that allows the chef control over the lights, stereo system, swim platform and other features.

As the boat puttered out of the harbor and through the protected manatee area, I took some more time to acquaint myself with the layout. The 38 Surf is something of a hybrid center console/bowrider, and the bow lounge is quite a treat. Seating was comfortable, speakers and cupholders were plentiful, and the manatee observer we took with us from the docks seemed quite pleased to be taking in the views from a spot almost perfectly suited to his job.

I shortly crept down into the Regal’s accommodations level and was immediately impressed by the amount of space down there. You could ostensibly sleep four adults onboard, thanks to a queen-size berth in the forepeak and convertible twin berths amidships. You’d have to be good friends, but it would work. One thing this boat has that you won’t see on every 40-footer is a dry head with a separate walk-in shower. That goes a long way for comfort, particularly with larger crowds. It’s a nod to Regal’s clear ambition to market the 38 Surf as something more than just a wakeboat.

Sea trial

As we neared the mouth of Government Cut, I heard the engines rev up and made my way to the helm. The seating there is four wide and very comfortable. Sightlines at slow speeds were good, and the boat has a camera to help the captain see over the bow when a surfer is on the wake.

I took the wheel and pushed the throttles forward and we ripped off into the open Atlantic. The seas were gentle 1- to 2-footers so I felt comfortable dropping the hammer as I turned south out of the inlet. The Regal raced up to 38 knots all out, with acceleration that was smooth and responsive, all while maintaining an attitude that left for clean lines of sight. I dropped her back down to 31 knots where she burned 37 gph, and sliced her through slaloming S-turns and aggressive hard-over loop-de-loops. The hull gripped the water’s surface like it was on a track, and I felt a smile peel wide across my face. It had been a while since I’d run a sea trial on a boat this athletic, and the sheer joy of it all was exhilarating.

The Regal guys had a surprise in store for me as well. I thought I was onboard with two sales reps (plus our manatee observer), but in actuality one of the “sales reps” was a professional wakesurfer. I relinquished the wheel to the real Regal rep who revved the boat to 12 knots, kicking off an eminently surfable-looking wake. I’ve never wakesurfed, but I do surf, and the wave reminded me of the famous point break Rincon in Santa Barbara, California, gently sloped and never-ending. And the surfer absolutely shredded it, carving hard turns, throwing spray off the top, dipping back down into the trough and then popping big airs. Oh, to be young again.

What you’re getting with the Regal 38 Surf is a boat that is rather unique in the marketplace. In fact, I can’t think of a boat that could reasonably claim to be competition. Where else could one do real fishing and proper overnights on a vessel that lets a wakesurfer absolutely rip behind it? I have to hand it to Regal, I was really impressed with this sea trial. It will be memorable for more than just a manatee.

Super nimble handling that was an absolute blast to drive.

The accommodations levels was legitimately usable for a group of people to stay overnight.

The sound system thumps.

The 38’s sheer size means it throws off a wake that will take some getting used to, especially for beginner wakesurfers.


  • LOA: 39’2″
  • Beam: 11’11”
  • Draft (up/down): 2’9″/3′
  • Dry Weight: 19,400 lbs.
  • Fuel Capacity: 249 gals.
  • Base Power: 2 x Volvo V8 380 FWD EVC2 DP CAT joystick
  • Price: Contact dealer
  • Website:

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