What Was OPAS on a Sea-Doo? [Explained]
Sea-Doo’s OPAS (Off-Power Assisted Steering) was a special off-throttle steering system commonly used on 3-seater Sea-Doos after the Millennium. The OPAS system included two fins that were mounted on the rear side of the hull. When you released the throttle, these fins started working as mechanical rudders to provide some steering ability.
If you want to find out more about this safety device, this post is for you. We at JetDrift have compiled all you need to know into this Sea-Doo OPAS review!
What Was OPAS on a Sea-Doo?
Due to their design, older jet skis cannot turn if you aren’t applying some throttle. This was surprising and dangerous for inexperienced riders who had no idea of how a jet ski’s steering system works.
This caused many risky situations – especially when a scared jet skier turned off the engine or released the throttle and tried turning to avoid a collision. Without any throttle, the pump couldn’t provide any thrust, which left the rider without any steering control.
This is when the jet ski’s OTS (Off-Throttle Steering) systems came into play. These devices were designed to provide steering ability in off-throttle situations, which was a game-changer for beginners. It’s safe to say that they were the training wheels for jet skis!
Keeping safety in mind, each jet ski manufacturer developed its own OTS system in the early 2000s, and Sea-Doo was no exception.
Sea-Doo’s OPAS device was actually two mechanical rudders mounted on the rear side of the hull, just behind the sponsons. In off-throttle situations, these mechanical rudders were activated and provided some directional control.
These rudders were also known as OPAS fins or OPAS paddles as well.
How Did Sea-Doo’s OPAS System Work?
How did the OPAS system work? In a nutshell, the mechanical rudders of the OPAS were controlled by the handlebar. However, they were activated by low water pressure in the pump. As long as you applied some throttle, the rudders stayed inactive, and the jet ski was solely steered by the jet pump.
Phew! Are you confused?
Let’s drill into the details and take a closer look at how Sea-Doo’s OPAS system worked!
The rudders of the system were connected to the pump. They were kept in a retracted position by pressurized water coming from the pump. When you released the throttle, the water pressure dropped in the pump, which activated the rudders.
They were also connected to the steering nozzle with two push rods, so turning the handlebars caused the rudders to pivot, providing steering control and helped the ski to make sharper turns. In these situations, the OPAS did the same job as the rudder of a large ship.
When you applied some throttle, the increased water pressure deactivated the fins.
Which Sea-Doos Were Equipped With OPAS?
The OPAS system made its debut on the 2002 Sea-Doo GTX 4-TEC. This machine was not only the first 4-stroke PWC in Sea-Doo’s fleet, but it also featured a series of new inventions.
In the following years, all 3-seater Sea-Doos were manufactured with this feature, including the RXT, RXT-X, GTX series, and the Wake series.
After some years in production, the Sea-Doo OPAS was replaced by the innovative iBR (Intelligent Brake and Reverse System) in 2008.
Sea-Doo OPAS Malfunctions
Although Sea-Doo’s OPAS was a revolutionary idea, the design had some drawbacks. These affected handing in a deactivated position, and the fins were also prone to malfunctioning and even breaking.
However, the biggest downside of the OPAS was its undesired operation on rough waters.
When you rode on choppy water, the pump lost water pressure again and again. This fluctuation in the pump activated the OPAS rudders causing drag and rough steering. At higher speeds, the activated OPAS system led to a lower top speed and a hooky feeling of the smallest twitch of the handlebars.
As you can imagine, these handling issues caused a lot of headaches for riders. So, it is no surprise that the OPAS system was removed from the majority of Sea-Doos.
Are you wondering how to remove the OPAS on a Sea-Doo? Keep reading!
How to Remove the OPAS on a Sea-Doo
The easiest way to remove the OPAS on a Sea-Doo is to remove the fins and install a “Sea-Doo OPAS block-off kit.” Just unbolt the device and install the kit to prevent water from entering the hull.
The rudders and the other hardware on the OPAS are easily removable with basic tools. Once you’ve removed them, you will notice openings on the side of the hull, which have to be covered.
This is where an OPAS block-off kit comes into play, as they are designed to seal these openings.
What is an OPAS Block Off Kit?
One of the most well-known kits is the Riva’s Sea-Doo OPAS Performance Block-Off Kit, marketed by the reputable Riva Racing. This easy-to-install kit contains all you need for a Sea-Doo OPAS removal, including the aluminum block-off plates, O-rings, plugs, and installation instructions.
Removing the OPAS on your Sea-Doo ensures higher speed and increased stability on choppy waters. On the other hand, you will lose the off-throttle steering ability, making the ski harder to steer around the dock or at lower speeds.
This can be dangerous in emergencies!
Therefore, this modification is recommended only for racers and experienced riders. If you are a beginner, best practice is to leave OPAS on the ski for safety reasons.
Sea-Doo OPAS (Off-Power Assisted Steering) was a safety device designed to provide steering control in off-throttle situations. The system contained two mechanical rudders, which were connected to the steering nozzle with push rods.
When you released the throttle, the low water pressure in the pump activated the rudders, which could be controlled by the handlebars.
Although it was a great safety feature for beginners, it was annoying on choppy waters where the continuously changing pump pressure activated the rudders.
Because of this, many riders removed the OPAS on their Sea-Doos by installing a simple “OPAS block-off kit”.
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