Sea Nymph Regal 580

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Regal 580

After more than five decades the Sea Nymph name is still very much part of the Kiwi trailer boat market. Barry Thompson checks out the iconic Regal 580, a boat that seems destined to carry the brand though to the next decade.

When trailer boating in New Zealand was in its infancy in the early 1960s, fibreglass boats were just starting to make an impact and one of the earliest brand names was Sea Nymph. Built by Auckland based Marine Plastics, they were one of the first to develop small runabouts that were something more than just a large dinghy.

One of those in the early 1960s was the Sea Nymph V13, the first of the ‘new’ breed of Sea Nymph boats. Over the years they expanded their range and by the mid-1970s they had seven models and were one of the leading marques on the market. Who can forget the Commander 18 or the V16, two models that catapulted Sea Nymph into cult status?

I probably went boating over the years in every model they made, even the infamous narrow beamed, top heavy, flybridge Sovereign V24 which tossed me and a few others into the water on Lake Taupo.

In the early 1980s, the Sea Nymph brand was reinvented, when all the old models were discontinued and replaced with Australian designed Cruise Crafts. This gave Sea Nymph another considerable boost and public acceptance was exceptional. Sales boomed and Sea Nymph was undoubtedly one of the top brands to own. At the media and dealer launch of the new models, I was shown the ‘radical’ open bow (now the common bowrider) Hustler 590. Wow, how cool, but would it sell, especially with an open foredeck that could fill with water on the first Hauraki Gulf wave. Wrong. And yes it did sell and sell well and was the forerunner of all locally built bowriders that followed.

The brand went through some problematic ownership times until in 2000, Robbie Hopper brought it and started building the boats in Hamilton. Tough times came with the GFC and for economic reasons, he moved the moulds to China. After building boats in China for the international market, but New Zealand, in 2016 he came back home and set up shop in Silverdale, Auckland. Sea Nymph was back home, 55 years after the first V13 was launched and the Sea Nymph name was etched into annals of kiwi trailer boat building history.

While the boats are still built in China, Robbie points out that the boats are all manufactured to the highest CE standard.

“We have a 5-year warranty on our boats, but I am thinking of pushing that out to 10-years as I am so confident about how the boats are built, I happy to stand behind everyone we sell”, says Robbie.

All the fitout and rigging, i.e. engine install and electronics is done locally and the trailers are from a local supplier.

Cut & Tuck

The development of the Regal 580 had its roots in some other Sea Nymph models, with hull #1 released in 2004. The hull is based on the now discontinued 566, the twin transom walk-through from the 640 and the cabin top from the Blazer. As Robbie says, “It’s a genuine Kiwi cut & tuck, using the best of some to make the best of one’.

Compared to the previous 566, the cabin is slightly smaller, giving more emphasis on useable cockpit space. Robbie says that he has found his customers are now after cockpit room, whereas the 566 was all about being able to overnight. 

Certainly, the old 566 has been transformed into a better day boat with a good ratio of space. Yes, you could still stay overnight in the cabin, especially with the squab infill, but really would you want to!

The 580 is very much a family boat, offering all the amenities you need when family day boat

Storage Plus

The cabin has loads of storage under the three squabs as well as wide side trays and there is also the option of a small toilet. A privacy screen across the cabin entry is available and Robbie pointed out that just about every boat now goes out with one fitted.

Sitting headroom is adequate for most adults, with cabin windows allowing excellent visibility and a large deck hatch making access to the anchor locker easy. Not that you should need to go there if you have an auto anchoring system. The 580 can be fitted with either a deck winch or drum winch. Most Sea Nymph’s are now being installed with the Savwinch drum winch, which Robbie says is a natural fit and works exceptionally well.

The 580 is available in either open style with a soft bimini and rocket launcher, the hard targa top as per our test boat with clears and coming up later this year is a full hardtop version.

One of the first things I noticed about the 580 was plenty of height under the targa. Robbie and I are both around 1.8m tall and we had no problem standing to drive. I also liked the driving position which is offered either fully seated, in a bolster position or standing. The pedestal seat slides back out of the way or well forward, depending on where you want it. Visibility from the helm is unimpeded.

Another cool feature is the way the clears are fitted to the hardtop via a hard plastic track system. No zips or clips to leak. Great! The hardtop is a solid two-piece moulding filled with foam and mounted on a seriously tough looking 316 stainless steel frame. No problem bolting on some outriggers if you are seriously into your fishing. Robbie says that, although he hasn’t tried it, if the boat went over on its side, the buoyancy in the hardtop would probably make it self-right. I’ll take his word for it. The overall weight of the targa option is around 350 kgs included the stainless mounting.

Fishing Cockpit

While the Regal 580 is being marketed as a family friendly boat, it’s sure that there’s going to be fishing done, so the cockpit reflects that. Spacious, uncluttered and room for four people to fish without getting in each other’s way.

Our test boat was fitted with a Lowrance HD9, which is about the biggest size you can fit to the multi-level dash. The only instrument was Suzuki’s digital multi-function gauge. This provided comprehensive engine management and performance data with one easy-to-see screen. There is space for plenty of instruments if you prefer.

Either side of the helm and passenger seats are storage spaces and while there are no aft side shelves under the coamings, there is plenty for all your gear forward. The rocket launcher and four coaming rod holders take care of your rods.

A standard feature of the boat is twin removable bin seats which double as wet or dry storage and have been a feature of Sea Nymph boats for many years.  I would probably make one a bait locker and the other to keep the catch. Not being permanently mounted means you cabin move them around the cockpit to suit or even stack on inside the other and stow them out of the way in the cabin. Or leave them at home.

Underfloor either side of a 100-litre removable wet bin and 86 litre fuel tank is all buoyancy. There is enough height under the transom for a couple of extra tote tanks or somewhere to stow a portable bbq or fishing tackle. You can even fit a live-bait tank.

One of the unique aspects of the 580 is the twin transom access, something I don’t think I have seen on any other boat of this size or even bigger. Makes easy entry to the boat when swimming, towing water toys or diving.

Nice Ride

The hull, which is the same design as the Blazer, but shorter,  goes back further than where the engine bolts on the transom, so you get a maximum running surface. The hull features a wide flat keel plank aft and double chines, which both attribute to lifting the boat easily onto the plane and helping with stability at rest.

I took the Regal 580 out for a few hours off Gulf Harbour in reasonable moderate sea conditions with around 15 knots of breeze and a short sea. It proved a slippery boat onto the plane and didn’t require a lot of trim to get the bow up to the right attitude.

Running across the chop, I found around 4300 rpm was the sweat spot and gave a comfortable ride for all three aboard. The Suzuki 115hp is the right power size for the boat, although some have been sold with 140hp. Possibly a better option if you are going to be using the boat with four adults and plenty of diving or fishing gear. More torque from the same size and weight engine package for probably about the same top end and cruise speeds. The extra power is also good for getting away from a standing start when waterskiing or towing tubes. If you are running the bimini top model (considerably light) then you could get away with running a 90hp engine. Maximum speed with the Suzuki 115 was 33.5 knots.

With over 100 sold into the Kiwi market, since its inception, the Regal 580 has proven to be one Sea Nymph’s most popular boats and doesn’t look like slowing up anytime soon.


  • Model: Sea Nymph Regal 580 TT                        
  • Type: Cabin
  • Construction: GRP
  • LOA: 5.8m
  • Beam: 2.4m
  • Deadrise: 22 deg
  • Trailerable weight: 1750 kg
  • Power: Suzuki 115
  • Power options: Outboard only
  • Propeller: 19” 3 blade S/S
  • Fuel capacity: Z86 litres
  • Trailer: Ultra Trailers
  • Manufacturer: Sea Nymph Boats, Ph +64 21 277 2222 | E: [email protected] |





























































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