What happens when a multi-millionaire and a top-level racing sailor get their heads together and decide to break a few sailing records? Well, it’s not an unfamiliar story, and in this case it involves Renaud Laplanche, CEO of the online peer-to-peer lending company Lending Club, and pro racer Ryan Breymaier.
The two met during the 2013 Transpac race when Breymaier crewed on the 73ft trimaran Tritium Racing, which Laplanche had chartered and renamed Lending Club for the race. Laplanche is no mean sailor himself—he has won national championships in his native France—and the two hatched a plan to charter a big trimaran capable of breaking a few long-standing records.
Late last year they secured the 105ft VPLP-designed rocketship Banque Populaire VII (formerly Groupama 3), which Loïck Peyron had just skippered to a solo victory in the Route du Rhum.
The first record to fall came on April 1, during an early shakedown voyage. The distance between the Royal Yacht Squadron starting line off Cowes, England, to Dinard in France is 138 miles. The existing record of 5 hours and 23 minutes had been set by the maxi-cat Maiden II in 2002; the Lending Club 2 crew averaged 26.36 knots to shave 9 minutes off that time.
Less than three weeks later, the crew smashed Steve Fossett’s longstanding Newport-Bermuda record, set by Playstation 15 years ago. Few would have believed the 635-mile passage, notorious for fluky wind conditions, could be sailed in under 24 hours, but the Lending Club 2 crew blazed down the rhumb line at 30-some knots and shaved an amazing 15 hours off Fossett’s time. The new record of 23 hours 9 minutes 52 seconds, at an average speed of 27 knots, will likely not be bettered anytime soon.
The third item on the LC2 agenda was the Los Angeles-to-Honolulu record, set in 2005 by France’s Olivier de Kersauson aboard the 110ft tri Geronimo, with a time of 4 days 19 hours 31 minutes and 37 seconds. The team had intended to enter the Transpac race, but a favorable weather window opened a week before the start and they took full advantage of it, reeling off a string of near-600-mile days to cover the 2,215 miles in 3 days 18 hours and 9 seconds—an average speed of 24.6 knots—to knock more than a day off de Kersauson’s time.
What’s next for this super-tri? She now goes to multiple record-setter Francis Joyon, who is planning an assault on the Jules Verne Trophy for the fastest non-stop crewed circumnavigation. That record is currently held by Loïck Peyron, with a time of 45 days 13 hours 42 minutes and 53 seconds.
MHS Fall 2015