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Zbox for causal buoy chasers?


Windsurfnut
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Hi Ballers,

Recently purchased a 2002 SN 196 that had a bad perfect pass pro gauge, so upgraded to Stargazer Wakeboard S. We're casual buoy chasers, ski the open course 2 days a week, with a bit of open water skiing when not able to travel to the course. Our skiing is pretty intermediate, running 15'off 30-32mph, trying for a few 22' off passes. We're certainly motivated to progress in speed and shortening rope, and acquiring the SN 196 as our dedicated slalom boat was a step in the direction of committing to the sport.

 

One of the boats in our group has ZO and I really love the pull from that boat.

 

Perfect pass has offered a great price since I just bought the SG and the cost is pretty reasonable.

 

Is ZBOX worth it for the casual skier? I don't expect to ever be a tournament skier. Also, is ZBOX usable for open water skiing?

 

Thanks

 

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I think it's worth it in your case. The only time you really get into trouble with Z-box is short, tight setups on small lakes. It can also have trouble with lower speeds if you're skiing like 26mph or less. Otherwise you'll love it. It's a terrific product for what it is. Yes you can use it for open water as well.
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It's worth the upgrade IMO. I had a 2003 SN running PP which I upgraded to ZBOX. Like you, none of the people skiing behind the boat are setting records any time soon.

 

After upgrading, it seemed to provide a pull more similar to ZO ... but I'm probably not good enough to REALLY notice the difference. That said, as a driver, I noticed it definitely didn't oscillate it's speed as much through the course after the upgrade. Whether you care about that and that it feels more like ZO is another question. By the sounds of it though, you also ski behind a ZO boat. Which I did too. After upgrading it made transitioning between the two easier given they were more similar pulls.

 

But the thing I definitely DID notice and justified the upgrade was how the speed control engaged much easier. Prior to upgrading it was pretty sensitive to over / under throttling. But it seemed pretty dummy proof after. First time drivers had no issues engaging the system.

 

Free skiing is just fine with ZBox. We used to go into "Simple Slalom" mode for that. Otherwise it seemed to run 0.5 - 1Mph faster than the set speed. I think it was at a higher speed / rpm waiting for the gate hit that never came...

 

Hope that's helpful ...

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Sounds like a meaningful upgrade, especially at the package price.

On the ZO boat I skied behind, I was early at every ball, versus the same speed on my SG equipped boat. It was shockingly different, enough that I was scratching my head for the next week when my wife finally said, "So you must have liked ZO.." Huh..

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I’ve had some more experience with ZBox in the past couple weeks while I’ve been running my 05 Mastercraft 197TT. It is a really good option for boats that can’t be converted to ZO. Everyone who has skied it agrees, you could absolutely effectively train for tournaments to a mid -38 level at least with a zbox boat. It does not feel exactly like the SN19, CarbonPro, or SN 200 that we ski regularly, but none of those boats feel exactly the same either.

 

The area I find the greatest deviation is in the gates on our short end. ZBox uses the rpm as a trigger to stop the increase of throttle, resulting in a slightly softer feeling gate from the side where the setup is really really short.

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@BraceMaker that's correct, though if you don't enter a mapped course, it will run hot as it's got you at pre-gate speeds for the entire run. You need to go into practice mode and pull out a couple tenths MPH to get exactly on 34.2 or 36.

 

At least that's what I was told. I have one ordered and will do some testing.

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I'll be the contrarian: I don't think it's an important upgrade. There's nothing wrong with it, of course, but if you're dedicated to having fun and being a casual buoy chaser, then do that: have fun!

 

If you have any energy and money left, spend it on getting better. Get some coaching. Sounds like you already ski in different environments (wind, boats, etc.); this makes you a more robust skier. Worrying about PP vs ZBox vs ZO, or the minute differences between two boats makes you a more sensitive skier, more frustrated when one little element (boat, fin, wind, etc.) is just a tiny bit off.

 

BallOfSpray is a great place to come and get thinking about how to be a better skier. However, as a community of passionate ski nerds, it's also a place where you can come and see people arguing about very tiny things: the difference in wakes between one boat model year and the next, the difference between one setting on zero off and the next, the difference of a couple of thousandth of an inch in a fin setting. We have a tendency to make these differences sound like the difference between riding a child's tricycle vs a 1200cc sport bike, but they're not that big. For folks trying to improve their PB from 2 @ -39 to 3 @ -39, they're important discussions, for sure. But I wonder for many of us if the investment of energy and attention in these tiny factors provides a return in terms of happiness and satisfaction. I wonder if they make us more robust or more sensitive skiers. It sounds like you're having fun. -15/-22 @ 30/32mph is good skiing. You can't do it without getting a lot of things right. Sounds like you're having fun... keep having fun! You can do that behind PP classic, Stargazer, ZBox or ZO. Hey, we grew up doing it behind hand-driven outboards.

 

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I have Stargazer w/Zbox, two friends have Stargazer - no Zbox, as a 15 Off skier I can’t tell the difference.

 

Of course they have very different boats, hence the wake dynamic and tracking of the boat is what we do notice.

 

Mapping the course is however noticible in terms of how dialed in the speed is.

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First free ski sets in the books with SG V9.12 and Zbox. Version 9 is a materially better product all around than the 6.5NG system it replaced. Speed lock-in was ZO-like in terms of how rapidly and accurately it would lock in. Other than on a really short setup, you'd be hard pressed to overcook the entry speed with V9. This is a Mechanical throttle on a Malibu Monsoon II.

 

Zbox was not as noticeable as ZO with the setting at the factory default of 8. Sensitivity goes as high as 20. I'll try 10 next time out and see if it feels closer to ZO. When skier was pulling, I could see RPM climbing a bit and backing off in release off second wake, but it didn't have that noticeable surging sound you get from ZO. The throttle compensation was more subtle than ZO. Skiing B2 until dialed in.

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Slalom with PP Classic with KX minus, PX 10 and the switch. Set the baseline so you need an extra 50 to 100 pounds of skier weight. Hammers you a lot like ZO C settings. It does take a savvy driver to make the adjustments to get perfect times but it's not particularly difficult.

 

Downside is that you need magnets. You need to adjust for wind and current. Weeds will probably give bad pulls. You need to really pay attention when driving.

 

Tricks is awesome with a paddlewheel. Equal to ZO. GPS based systems automatically calibrate the paddlewheel. Without the paddlewheel, tricks is unskiable in every PP version I've skied. RPM based tricks is worthless.

 

I've only been a shore judge for jumping but ZO doesn't give rerides. PP is hit or miss if a good jumper will get a reride. Again, I haven't played with it enough. Back in the day, PP Classic was able to give good feeling pulls and few enough rerides to run tournaments with very skilled drivers. But jumpers (and their drivers) love ZO.

 

Eric

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