While interceptor technology for the marine industry has been around for decades, it’s still a relatively new concept to recreational boats and their owners. Imtra has been offering Zipwake interceptors since 2017, and while more and more people are familiar with the product, there are still a lot of questions. So we compiled a list of the most common questions we get regarding Zipwake and answered them!
What size boats are Zipwake systems intended for?
Zipwake has two different Series of products, Series S & Series E, and those two product ranges cover boats from 20’ to 100’, with Series S typically recommended for boats in the 20’ to 60’ range and Series E for boats in the 50’ to 100’ range. There are exceptions of course, and every installation is different, so it’s best to consult with the experts at Imtra or a Zipwake dealer to go over the specifics of your boat.
At what speeds are Zipwake interceptors effective?
Zipwake interceptors are designed for planing and semi-planing boats, so boats that cruise at any speed less than 10 knots will likely not see the intended benefits of the system. On very fast boats, Zipwake’s interceptor blades can be damaged by speeds over 60 knots, so if the system is in Auto mode, the blades will automatically retract at that speed, and redeploy as the boat slows down.
Will Zipwake interceptors create drag and reduce boat speed?
Technically speaking, anything attached to a boat below the waterline will create some amount of drag, but the blades of Zipwake interceptors are so small – 30mm for Series S interceptors & 60mm for Series E interceptors – that the drag created is minimal. In fact, because Zipwake interceptors create more lift on the transom than they do drag through the water, extensive testing shows slight gains in speed when using the system than without it. Due to the significantly larger surface area of traditional trim tabs, interceptors also create less drag than an appropriately sized tab would for the same boat.
How does the cost of Zipwake compare to trim tabs?
A Zipwake interceptor system is typically more expensive than a standard, manually-operated set of traditional trim tabs. However, once the automatic feature is added to a traditional trim tab system, the cost is comparable, if not slightly higher, than a Zipwake system for the same boat.
Is Zipwake difficult to install?
“Difficult” is a relative term, but installing a Zipwake system is very straightforward and no more complicated than a trim tab installation. Because the installation process is the same for all sizes of Zipwake’s interceptors, the installation is much simpler on bigger boats than installing a large and heavy trim tab that requires hydraulic actuators and two people to hold it in place while a third fastens it down.
What power supply is needed for a Zipwake system?
All Zipwake systems operate on DC electric power, and operate in the range of 12-32VDC.
How many interceptors will my boat need?
Zipwake systems are designed to handle up to six interceptors on one boat, three on each side of the centerline, but in many cases two or four interceptors will get the job done. This is determined simply by how much of the transom can be covered by interceptors. Zipwake recommends that a minimum of 30% of the width of the transom be covered, though in our experience we’ve found that installations with 50% or more of the transom covered perform optimally. Every boat is different, so filling out the Zipwake questionnaire for your boat is the best way to determine how many interceptors you would need.
Can I mount interceptors in pockets where trim tabs used to be?
In general it’s best to mount Zipwake interceptors directly on the transom to generate the most lift as far back in the boat as possible. That typically means uninstalling the recessed trim tab and filling in the pocket with fiberglass, however there are cases where that isn’t necessary depending on the depth of the recess.
Can I control a Zipwake system manually?
Yes, Zipwake systems can be controlled manually with the two wheels on the control panel, but the majority of owners prefer to run the system in Auto mode so that they don’t have to constantly adjust the interceptors based on sea state and weight distribution aboard.
Can I make adjustments to how Zipwake performs in Auto mode?
While Zipwake only needs to know the length, beam, and displacement of the boat to run effectively in Auto mode, the system is nearly infinitely adjustable so you can run your boat exactly how you want it to run, even in Auto mode. The Zipwake system will automatically calculate a “pitch curve” which determines how much of the interceptor blade is deployed at different speeds, and that pitch curve can be adjusted by the user in one-knot increments. For example, if the system calculates that the blade should be deployed 70% of the way at 10 knots, but the user wants the bow of the boat to come down faster, you can go into the settings and increase the percentage of blade deployed at 10 knots, 11 knots, and so on.
The sensitivity of the system can also be fine-tuned so that the interceptor blades react to changes in the speed of the boat or sea conditions faster or slower depending on your preference. Of course, the sensitivity range is limited because too long of a delayed reaction from the blades would render the system useless or counter-productive.
Does Zipwake need to be connected to an external GPS?
No. The control head for all Zipwake systems has a built-in GPS, accelerometer, and solid-state gyro sensor so that it can keep track of all the movements of the boat on its own. It does include an open NMEA 2000 port so that it can be connected to an external GPS if there are obstructions on board keeping the Zipwake control from getting a strong GPS signal.
What seasonal maintenance is involved?
Zipwake interceptors are about as maintenance-free as any system on a boat can be. The interceptors should be cleaned of any marine growth that builds up on them and painted with the same bottom-paint that is used on the hull at the same frequency that the hull is painted. If the boat lives in the water, it's a good idea to remove the front plate once per year and pressure wash any marine growth out of the inside of it. If the boat is in the water for more than a week at a time, make sure the "Auto-Clean" function is enabled, which periodically deploys and retracts the interceptor blades to keep marine growth to a minimum.
The software of the system can also be updated by downloading the latest software from Zipwake’s website to a USB thumb-drive which then plugs into the back of the control. Like any electrical system on board, the electrical connections should also be checked periodically and cleaned if there's any corrosion.
Can Zipwake be repaired if damaged or does the system need to be replaced?
Every component of the Zipwake system is repairable so replacing a complete system is never necessary. The interceptor is comprised of a front plate, which also contains the blade, a servo motor and a back plate which is mounted to the transom. So if a blade breaks, just the front plate needs to be replaced and if a servo motor fails it can also be replaced, so uninstalling and re-mounting the entire interceptor is almost never a factor.
What is the difference between straight, V-shaped, chine & tunnel interceptors?
Straight interceptors are the standard rectangular shape which are most commonly installed and used. V-Shaped interceptor blades are exactly as they sound, V-shaped, and are intended to be mounted right on the centerline of the boat to generate more lift.
Chine interceptors have angled blades on the outboard side (either port or starboard) and are used to get interceptors as far outboard as possible on boats that have a reverse chine. Zipwake’s chine interceptors have a 20-degree angle to the blade, except for the Series E 600 Chine, which has a 15-degree angle. Tunnel interceptors have curved blades and are meant to be installed above a propellor tunnel on boats that have them.
Can a Zipwake system improve fuel economy?
Yes. After extensive testing, Zipwake discovered an average of 4% to 9% fuel savings while using the Zipwake system in Auto mode, depending on cruising speed, versus running the boat without Zipwake. Of course, every boat is different and sea conditions are always changing, so the resulting fuel savings will vary.
To learn more about Zipwake Dynamic Trim Control Systems, check out the two related articles below and feel free to reach out to us with any questions.