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What It’s Like to Sail One of the World̵...

What It’s Like to Sail One of the World’s Fastest Yachts: Aboard Super Maxi Lending Club 2

lending club 2, so fast

Recently the Super Maxi Trimaran Lending Club 2, one of the biggest, fastest and renowned sailing yachts on the water, took a break in between breaking records and visited San Francisco Bay.

Some sailors got to experience her firsthand and we were two of the lucky ones.

lending club 2 breathes speed

Flying an ama, photo: Lending Club

lending club 2, so fast

Lending Club 2, one of the fastest yachts in the world, photo: Lending Club

Lending Club 2 a sailing powerhouse.  This sailboat breathes one purpose: speed.

banque populaire in the route du rhum

Banque Populaire VII, the winner of the 2014 La Route du Rhum with Loick Peyron at the helm, photo: FranceTVSport

Those that follow international racing my recognize Lending Club 2 as the Ex-Banque Populaire VII, the winner of the 2014 La Route du Rhum in record time with legendary French sailor Loick Peyron at the helm.

lending club 2, outright transpac record holders

Arriving Hawaii for the outright Transpac record, photo: Lending Club

lending club 2

En route Hawaii, photo: Lending Club

Lending Club 2 owner and co-skipper Renaud Laplanche, founder and CEO of Lending Club, himself a two time French National Laser champion, chartered her for 2015 with the goal of breaking records and that they have done. First in the English Channel, Cowes to Dinard, then Newport to Bermuda, and recently the Transpac outright record, California to Hawaii.

renaud laplanche, founder and ceo of lending club

Lending Club Co-Skipper Renaud Laplanche at the helm, photo: Lending Club

Renaud and his co-skipper American offshore sailor Ryan Breymaier, winner of the 2014 New York to Barcelona IMOCA Double-Handed Transatlantic and World Speed Sailing record holder for New York to San Francisco, had missed the Transpac record in their 2013 challenge by just two hours. The duo wanted to come back and finish the job.

ryan breymaier, co-skipper lending club 2

Lending Club 2 Co-skipper Ryan Breymaier, photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture

“It feels incredible. It’s been a lot of hard work, but a lot of fun and all thanks to an amazing team. Without Renaud’s vision all this wouldn’t have happened, Ryan said.

lending club employees enjoy a ride on lending club 2

Lending Club employees enjoying a special view of the Golden Gate, photo: Lending Club

While in San Francisco, Lending Club 2 provided rides to sailing VIPS, media and employees of the company, one shared all they needed to do to go was sign up. Talk about a job perk. Are you listening sailors?

lending club 2 by alcatraz

Lending Club 2 zooming past Alcatraz, photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture

lending club 2 at the golden gate bridge

Golden Gate Bridge fly by, photo: Lending Club

lending club 2, san francisco in the background

San Francisco as backdrop for Lending Club 2, photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture

At 105’ long and 75’ wide, with a 134.5’ mast and up to 828 sq meters of sail, Lending Club 2 is an impressive sight. San Francisco’s morning sky and iconic skyline made for a beautiful backdrop.

on the rib to board lending club 2

On the way to Lending Club 2, photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture

There was a jovial mood aboard the RIB as we headed out to the maxi trimaran. Our group was a mix of enthusiastic employees and sailing media including John Arndt of Latitude 38 and Michelle Slade of Sailing in Marin.

helming lending club 2!

A dream come true, helming Lending Club 2! photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture

With breezes in the 15-knot range we managed a reach at 26 knots. During a stint at the helm she proved to be solid, stable and easily maneuvered with a good feel as you would expect from an oceangoing thoroughbred.

The crew was being careful to keep the guests dry even on our cruise of the bay. Out on the ocean in 15 or 20 knots of breeze with some swells and chop it must be an exciting and wet ride. One of the few accessories are shields and a windscreen to protect the driver at the two helm stations.

golden gate view from lending club 2

Everything is carbon fiber or weight-saving Dyneema netting on Lending Club 2, photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture

Lending Club 2 is all business – no cup holders or teak decks, everything is carbon fiber or weight-saving Dyneema netting. Although there is a motor, it is only used before or after races or for recharging the lightweight Lithium batteries that power the computers, sensors and instruments.

grinding on lending club 2

Grinding… photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture

sailing under the golden gate bridge on lending club 2

Sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge… Lending Club 2’s sails are made from Cubon Fiber originally produced for America³, photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture

The crew supplies all other power through grinders, winches and lines. Raising sail with grinders even with four people at a time is a workout.  The sails are made from Cubon Fiber originally produced for America³; it is a fabric constructed from Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene and laminated with other materials to make particularly durable sails.

spartan accommodations on lc2

Spartan accommodations on board… Aluminum tub and mesh beds stacked three high, photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture

spartan accommodations on lc2

Each sailor has his own bowl for the freeze-dried food they eat, a mug and water bottle for drink, photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture

Accommodations are in the central hull and are certainly spartan, aluminum tube and mesh beds and stacked three high. Each sailor has his own bowl for the freeze-dried food they eat, a mug and water bottle for drink and a community pressure cooker. Sailors also have a sailcloth box for their gear. There is no head, only a bucket. Creature comfort is sacrificed for speed.

lending club 2 sailing under the golden gate bridge

Under the Golden Gate, heading for the Marin Headlands, photo: Kara Hugglestone/Sail Couture

During our lap around the bay, from the Ferry Building to the Marin headlands, to the Blackaller Buoy, out under the Golden Gate Bridge and around the Marin Headlands before heading back to the Ferry Building we experienced how quick she is, really unlike anything we’ve sailed before. We can only imagine what it’s like in race mode.

lending club 2 in racing mode

Lending Club 2 in race mode, photo: Lending Club

Lending Club 2 is simply a record-breaking machine. They’ve bested Brian Thompson’s 2002 Cowes-Dinard record by 8 minutes and then shattered the great Steve Fossett’s Newport-Bermuda record by nearly 15 hours. Their outright Transpac win was no less dramatic – just three days and 18 hours, shaving an entire day off Olivier de Kersauson’s 2005 record.

The original plan was race in the biannual Transpac Race, but when conditions looked more favorable they decided to pursue the outright record and were rewarded handsomely.

lending club 2 sailing to a rainbow

Lending Club 2 looking for the next record, photo: Lending Club

We look forward to their next record breaking run. You can follow their adventures on the Lending Club Sailing Facebook Page.

 


Kara Hugglestone is Founder and Editor of Sail Couture. She is also a San Francisco-based branding professional, sailor and traveler. When time permits, she indulges in her passion for things classic: cars, movies, wine and fashion. You can follow her on Twitter at @karahugglestone or Instagram at @gallerykara.

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