The biggest surf boat in the world hits the water
It was sometime in August 2023 that local professional wake surfer Tyler Rhyne was offered the experience of a lifetime — a perk of being a sponsored rider for Regal Boats.
Rhyne was given the chance to be one of the first people to ever surf behind the gargantuan Regal 38 Surf, billed as the largest surf boat in the world.
In fact, as he stepped onto the boat for the first time, Rhyne didn’t feel as if he was going wake surfing at all.
“Getting on the boat first, you notice that it’s set up like a center console, so when you first get on the boat, you don’t even feel like you’re about to go surfing or do any water sport at all,” Rhyne recalled of the experience. “It really feels more like you’re getting on this huge 38-foot yacht or cruiser and you’re going to go out and you’re going to use the grill on the back platform or the swim step. You’re going to go out and just kind of swim with the family and some friends or do whatever.”
Surfing was definitely on the schedule, however, and with no ballast to fill, it wasn’t long before Rhyne was able to get behind the 20,000-pound boat and see what its Twin Volvo V8 430 EVC engine could do.
What struck him shortly into his first ride was the length of the wave the boat created. Rhyne compared it to snowboarding when you come up over a hill and begin to gain speed again at a fast clip — or when a wave doubles up when surfing in the ocean, adding that extra push.
“It’s kind of just one of those things that when you surf it at first you’ll experience it, the way that the wave forms behind you. It pushes like crazy,” he said. “I’d say I got back to probably 20 feet back from behind the boat, which is crazy.”
A long wave is only part of what Regal has created with the release of the impressive 38 Surf, which is currently in stock at Talley’s Pier 77 Marine in Cornelius, the exclusive authorized dealer for Regal Boats throughout much of North Carolina and into South Carolina.
Rhyne has worked as a wake sports instructor at Talley’s for years.
Billy Talley, whose father Bill founded Talley’s in 1986, has been working closely with Regal since the store signed on as an authorized dealer in 2002, and has been familiar with the company since long before then.
“When it comes to the Regal [Surf], nobody checks all the boxes like a Regal does,” Talley told Piedmont Lakes Pilot, “from performance to maneuverability, build quality, fit and finish, features, and just overall capability of being able to do everything with one platform like the Regal Surf boat does.”
What impresses him more than the top-notch boats they put in the water is the company’s commitment to keeping the values of a mid-sized company rather than sacrificing quality for financial growth. Regal only builds about 1,800 boats a year, and they put care into each one of them.
It reminds Talley of how his family-owned business has been run for nearly 40 years now. Talley’s Pier 77 recently marked a fourth straight year ranking No. 1 worldwide for customer satisfaction among all Regal dealers. While they consistently place in the top 10 in number of boats sold, it’s the former ranking that Billy strives for.
“That to us is more important than being the biggest,” he said. “We want to be the best. We don’t necessarily have to be the biggest.”
Regal 38 Surf is ‘A family boat with the option to wake surf’
As for the Regal 38 Surf, however, it is most certainly the biggest. At nearly 40 feet long and 11 feet, 11 inches wide, the surf boat can do so much more than tow riders. The well-designed open layout is perfect for entertaining and can fit up to 18 people.
The floor plan includes a grill, dual refrigeration, a sink, a trash can and easy storage, while a wide walk-through on the port side provides easy access to and from the bow.
As for the transom and stern, a low-to-the-water swim platform makes exiting and entering the water a breeze — as do the doors on each side — while the Ultralounge chair can serve as a couch or, at the touch of a button, be made to recline into a massive sun lounge.
The multi-position captain seats can comfortably seat four at the helm, featuring flip-up bolsters and armrests, and can even fold down and rotate for added versatility.
For Rhyne, who is usually all about the business at hand while out for a wake-surf trip, the boat was almost too comfortable.
“Once you get out of the water, it’s like being in somebody’s house … You’ve got a bar in the back with a TV that flips down, you’ve got a huge area in the bow of the boat to kind of hang out with everybody, and then a big couch that kind of slides back and forth in the transom,” he described. “So when you come in the boat, it’s almost like you don’t even want to go back out. You kind of just want to hang out and watch everybody else.”
With heating and air conditioning plus digital switching and RGBW lighting that can be controlled from the 22-inch glass cockpit displays, it’s easy to set the vibes for whatever mood you’re going for.
Inside, the settee sofa can be converted into a queen bed, while the modern head includes a separate walk-in shower.
What impressed Talley the most when he had the chance to check out the 38 Surf was its versatility. Until now, families involved with water sports have had to keep a “tow boat” for wake surfing or wakeboarding only to bring it in if they want to cruise.
“Once the water gets rough, you park that boat and you get on the family boat and go for a cruise,” he explained. “And so you have to have more than one boat if you’re going to have a dedicated tow boat because they just don’t function very well as an all-purpose boat. That’s where Regal really brings a lot to the table, that you could do everything with one boat and do it well.”
Rhyne was also quick to notice just how well the colossal 38 Surf handled whatever wake was thrown at it.
“It’s a family boat with the option to wake surf,” he said. “So for me, the biggest thing to notice was that I could cruise across the channel on a Saturday in Lake Norman going 40 miles an hour and barely feel a bump. Coming from the inboard industry, [by comparison] you’re at about 15 miles an hour slowing down for every single little roller or wake that you go over.”
Of course, Surf is in the name for a reason, and the new boat’s versatility is also helpful in that regard. Rhyne said he’s been asked repeatedly by folks in the industry who haven’t had the chance to ride on or get behind the 38 Surf: Do you see this as being an everyday boat? Is this going to be good for beginners? Is it going to be good for intermediate to advanced riders?
His answer? Yes.
“I always tell everybody the same thing: You can make the wave as small as you want, you can make the wave as big as you want, and that’s dependent on a couple of factors,” he explained. “So, really, its size shouldn’t be intimidating because you can always cater it to a beginner, an intermediate, or an advanced rider.”
Nearing his four-year anniversary with Regal Boats on Feb. 8, Rhyne told Piedmont Lakes Pilot that he took a certain sense of pride in the 38 Surf, for which he gave his input and feedback throughout the building process.
“Coming in, it was almost like a blank canvas, right?” he said. “You knew what you wanted to put on there, but you didn’t know what to expect and what was going to come out of it. And I think at the end of the day, we’ve kind of all helped paint the Mona Lisa together. We’ve got a perfect boat that has everything.”
It makes you wonder what other unfathomable projects still lie ahead for Rhyne, Regal and Talley’s Pier 77.
Learn more about the Regal 38 Surf here
Visit Talley’s Pier 77 Marina online at talleyspier77.com.
Follow Tyler Rhyne on Instagram at @tylerrhyne.