Retrofitting rudder bearings on your sail boat

Published: 03/08/13 at 01:04pm

It's All About The Feel

Interpreting the feel, or back-feed, of your rudder is arguably one of the most important tools in your arsenal during a sailing regatta. This is the reason why many boat builders use mechanical steering systems that allow for as much of the “feel” from the rudder to transfer back up to the helm; mechanical systems such as cable, rack & pinion, and transmission systems.

Bearings, Who Needs Them?

Something else that also comes into play is the rudder bearings. Unfortunately, many times this is an afterthought. Commonly, simple plastic bushings are machined to fit between the rudder tube and the rudder shaft. As you can probably imagine, significant rudder loads can develop while underway, resulting in friction between the rudder and the bushing. This friction can offset any advantages gained from the mechanical, back-feeding steering system.

Jefa rudder bearings

PYI’s solution to this problem is Jefa rudder bearings. Jefa offers many different styles that serve different functions, but they all have one thing in common: rollers. These engineered plastic rollers drastically reduce the friction produced from high rudder loads, and will last many seasons longer than a bushing. Over time, the friction causes the bushing to take an elliptical shape, which results in play in the rudder and steering system.

-Ian Smith