I was very interested when I first heard about the OffCourse system a couple years ago. I have struggled with public courses since 1984. Over the years, I have had several floating courses, 2 submersible systems, 1 portable, 2 sub-buoy courses, and also helped many skier friends with their course on other lakes. I currently have a submersible course permanently in our lake and a portable course as backup.
The concept of the OffCourse of being truly portable to ski wherever the water is smooth is very attractive to me. Sometimes where our submersible course is located is wind chopped, or used for fishing tournaments (they naturally fish wherever a course is!), or there is a lack of time to raise/lower/maintain the submersible course.
I have been following many forums to get end-user feedback of their experience using the OffCourse. There was not much feedback online so I decided to purchase one anyway. That is why I am writing this review in hopes that it helps someone.
I have used my OffCourse system twice in the last week. Both times it has been very easy to mount, set-up, and activate. The system worked very well. For many questions that I read on the forums, the system does not interfere with my mirror at all. The “zero ball” does take some getting used to. My wife and I are still working on timing for the “zero ball” (splash). So far, we are just running our simple passes and not skiing beyond 15/22 off in the OffCourse. Once we learn our timing for the zero splash, we will be able to run more difficult passes.
We calibrated course width per the instructions. Splash placement is exact for length but for width is subjective. Per the instructions the skier swings out to the rope mark on the boat (measured), then observes 3 splashes for proper width. It took us a few passes to get this where it felt right. I have been skiing a regular course on another lake twice a week so tweaks were necessary to get splashes where buoys “should” be (again subjective). We have not raised our submersible yet this year but when we do, I plan to calibrate the OffCourse width by shooting at the fixed turn buoys. Course width is affected by boat loading, so this may be a struggle if we ski with an observer(s) or not.
Does the OffCourse replace a buoy course? No, but for us, it supplements it very well. We will be using the OffCourse when we want to ski other areas of our lake for smooth water (when our submersible location is rough), when we ski other lakes that do not have a course, and when we don’t have time to mess with the submersible. It is a GREAT alternative to skiing open water. It certainly helps timing of where buoys are spaced. Open water skiing is great, but without some markers over time, the timing and rhythm of the course is lost. OffCourse will definitely help bridge that gap.
For people that don’t normally ski a buoy course, an OffCourse will be a nice challenge to begin the slalom course addiction! Course width and course length can be easily adjusted which will help new course skiers. A buoy course does not have this flexibility and would be a lot of work.
The OffCourse is definitely a win for public lake slalom skiers. Hopefully skiers will utilize this tool to advance the sport and their skills.