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Lending Club 2 shatters record

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The crew of Lending Club 2 after their successful record attempt from Newport to Bermuda (Photos courtesy of Lending Club 2)

Lending Club 2 successfully completed an attempt to break the Newport to Bermuda course record with plenty of time to spare.

The 105ft trimaran simply obliterated the previous record that had stood for 15 years, taking less than 24 hrs to complete the 635-nautical mile ocean crossing from Castle Hill Lighthouse in Newport to Kitchen Shoal Beacon in Bermuda.

The new record, subject to ratification by the World Sailing Speed Record Council, is 23hr 9min 52sec at an average speed of 27 knots.

The trimaran, believed to be valued at about $3 million, completed its record attempt at 1:44.32am — shaving a staggering 15 hours off the previous mark set by the late Steve Fossett aboard the catamaran PlayStation.

After tying up at the dock at the St George’s Dinghy and Sports Club, Lending Club 2’s eight-man crew, led by Renaud Laplanche, the Lending Club CEO, and Ryan Breymaier, his co-skipper, celebrated their successful campaign over beer and pizza.

“To beat a record like this you really need a great boat, great weather conditions and more importantly a great crew, and that’s what we really had,” Mr Laplanche told The Royal Gazette. “Everyone was almost 100 per cent almost all the time and that’s what it takes to get from Newport to Bermuda in under 24 hours.”

Mr Breymaier added: “It’s always amazing every time you have an opportunity to sail on a boat like this. You just feel like you’re privileged because it’s unbelievable the feeling that you get; you’re almost like an airplane trying to take off all the time. It was faster than we expected as well and we were happy.”

After waiting for a cold front to pass through the Newport area, the impressive trimaran started its journey at 2.34am yesterday, crawling along at 5.5 knots in gentle breezes before eventually getting up to speed in open seas.

“We knew the start would be light breeze and it took us 15-20 minutes to get out of the harbour and then we started getting some breeze,” Mr Laplanche said. “We had faith in the model and the weather forecast.”

Three-and-a-half hours into the passage, Lending Club 2 had reached speeds of 30 knots and by the 12-hour mark was halfway to her destination.

The trimaran made her approach to Bermuda on a beam reach the entire way sailing straight down the rhumb line.

“We did everything on port tack,” Boris Herrmann, the navigator, said. “We didn’t do a single gybe or tack; just a reach in and out all the time straight down the rhumb line.”

Mr Breymaier added: “That’s what allowed us to make good time; being able to go straight down the rhumb line because we had wind on the beam so we could control our course perfectly and we came straight here, which is ideal conditions for record-breaking.”

The most challenging part of the passage was racing along at 40 knots through the Gulf Stream, which made for an uncomfortable ride.

“The Gulf Stream was a little bit bumpy for a while, but we just took things easy and got through it as quickly as we could so we could wind back up to full speed,” Mr Breymaier said. “There were some big waves and we just tried not to break anything.”

Mr Laplanche, a two-times Laser national champion in France, chartered the offshore racing trimaran for the 2015 season with the aim of conquering three speed sailing records: from Cowes on the Isle of Wight to Dinard, France; Newport to Bermuda; and the 2,215-nautical mile Transpac (Los Angeles to Honolulu).

The 45-year-old entrepreneur had already achieved one of his objectives, having set a world speed record on the English Channel from Cowes to France two weeks ago.

Lending Club 2 completed the 138-nautical mile passage in 5:15 at an average speed of 26.36 knots, shaving eight minutes off the previous record that had stood since 2002.

With two records under their belts, the crew of Lending Club 2 will now turn their focus to the Transpac Race, which is tentatively scheduled to begin on July 18.

“The first two went great but I think the third one will be hard because it’s a race, so we are not choosing our start,” Mr Laplanche said. “We are going to have to start the same time as everybody else.”

Lending Club 2 prepares for the record attempt from Newport to Bermuda