Ceramic bearings fit for the world’s toughest rowing race

Bearings 13-12-2021

Ceramic bearing specialist SMB Bearings is sponsoring rowing team, Five in a Row, as they take on this year’s Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. The challenge sees over 30 teams of rowers travel west from La Gomera in the Canary Islands, to English Harbour in Antigua & Barbuda. Departing in December 2021, the team will row 3000 miles unsupported, battling harsh ocean conditions and up to 40-foot waves.

Described as the ‘world’s toughest rowing race,’ the teams will be rowing in two-hour shift patterns, 24 hours a day, for almost two months. As the only five-person crew taking on the challenge, Five in a Row will also be raising money for Reverse Rett – a charity dedicated to changing the lives of those suffering with Rett Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects brain development, resulting in severe mental and physical disability.

SMB Bearings has provided the Scottish crew with full ceramic bearings for the boat’s adjustable seats. As a seasoned supporter of ocean rowing events, the company knows all too well the demands of specifying equipment for harsh marine environments. The raceways of the bearings, made of zirconium dioxide, are often used in marine environments due to their extreme water resistance properties. Combined with lighter, silicone nitride balls, these bearings can cope with higher loads and are not corroded by seawater.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve been called upon to provide full ceramic bearings for a rowing boat application,” explained Chris Johnson, managing director at SMB Bearings. “We always recommend these bearings due to their suitability for marine environments, as they can operate in different temperatures and offer excellent corrosion resistance.”

“Preparation is key in a gruelling race such as this one,” commented Ian Baird, team member of Five in a Row. “This will be both a huge physical challenge and a mental feat. We’ll be consuming 10,000 calories a day during the race to fuel us. Everything from physical training to the 28-foot boat’s engineering has to be precisely planned.

“Every detail matters in a race liked this, so the performance of the bearings needs to be as reliable as the preparation of the crew. The smooth movement of the seats is essential to ensure efficient energy transfer, so we are excited to see the impact of using ceramic bearings in our boat.”

Our determination to remain specialised gives us a high level of product knowledge, providing bearing and lubrication solutions to existing or potential customers, whether individuals or large corporations. We don’t just sell bearings, we help to solve your problems. - Chris Johnson, managing director of SMB Bearings.