Luxury day out for your dozen

SYDNEY Harbour in summer is something else. Not that you have to wait for it this year. Hot sunny days with searing temperatures are upon us already.

SYDNEY Harbour in summer is something else. Not that you have to wait for it this year. Hot sunny days with searing temperatures are upon us already.

The good news is that they extend the opportunity to hang out on the harbour. It's in the evening, after the hoi polloi have scurried home, that the magic of our busiest waterway reveals itself. Just lolling about will lift your spirits. Dive in and you'll be positively tingling. Then there's the thrilling late run home that adds to the natural high. Or a waterfront eatery for dinner instead.

Of the made-to-party powerboats arriving in time for Sydney's summer, the new Regal 3200 holds great promise. The big family-owned American boat builder knows a thing or two about designing social day-boating stages, with 11 models in its bowrider range alone. Yet this 3200 flagship pushes the envelope, with a bigger hull propelled by greater horsepower, more seating and new levels of amenities to keep you comfortable all day long.

Moored in front of the chattering classes at Rose Bay Marina, the all-new 3200 strikes you as a big boat. But the volume doesn't come at the expense of cool looks, which are enhanced by the rakish PowerTower.

At the press of a button, the arch folds flat to reduce air draft. Otherwise, it serves as a towing point for tubing, wakeboarding and waterskiing, and as the support for fore and aft canopies for welcome shade.

The next thing you notice is the abundance of stainless steel deck gear. A lot of American-made boats are pitched at Great Lakes boating, but this one has got saltwater intent.

The stainless-steel fittings range from a self-stow anchor through optional docking lights past decent cleats and a rubbing strip to the concealed swim ladder. There also the obligatory handheld transom shower to wash away the salt and sunscreen come Sunday afternoon.

With a 14-person capacity, the 3200 is definitely all about sharing in the spoils. The moulded cockpit liner, deck design and seating is very well considered for social boating. Yet despite packing a cricket team aboard, you won't be stepping on each other's toes. Abundant onboard storage and a peripheral seating layout ensure the boat's main traffic thoroughfare remain.

The large swim platform, which adds considerably to the waterfront real estate, had optional wood-look Flexiteek that is softer to sit on than fibreglass. You then enter the cockpit via a centreline walkthrough that ensures your guests aren't crawling over upholstery.

Dual UltraLounges, as Regal calls them, flank the transom walkthrough. The reversible lounges let your crew face forward for the run to the anchorage. Then flip the backrests to watch the world drift by astern when lying idle. The backrests also fold flat to create two immense sun pads. An optional bow infill cushion converts that seating area into a third sunpad/daybed.

Of course, you need music to get the party cranking. The 3200 comes with a Fusion sound system with six 200-watt waterproof speakers and iPod dock. Even better, there's an integrated bathroom/changeroom with an electric silent-flush freshwater toilet, floating sink, decent vanity, cherrywood joinery, plus an opening portlight for natural ventilation - a complete dayboat.

Back in the cockpit, the refreshment centre features a servery with two portable iceboxes, but the test boat had upgraded cockpit refrigerator, Magma gas barbecue and twin composite tables. So you're pretty much set for lunch. You can mount the supplied barbecue on the stanchion and get cooking with gas.

Après-lunch, when it's time to finally stow all the kit, it's nice to have the massive walk-in storage locker like the one below the helm console. With everything squared away, the twin petrol V8s — 300hp MerCruiser 350 Mag models — with digital throttles and shifts get the 3200 flying. Top speed is more than 43 knots and the deep-vee hull performs beautifully, as we discover zooming across a blustery Sydney Harbour after a long day afloat.

This same sharp hull has been used for a just-launched 32 Express Cruiser variant with a king bed in its cabin. But for many boaters the best bed is at home and a dayboat makes more sense. One thing is sure, you're going to sleep well after a long day of play on the harbour. The Regal 3200 was selling for $260,000 from Premier Marine on Rose Bay Marina.

See premiermarine.com.au.

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