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 a sailing powerhouse. This sailboat breathes one purpose: speed.
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 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 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.
“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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
We look forward to their next record breaking run. You can follow their adventures on the Lending Club Sailing Facebook Page.