There are few sailing vessels on San Francisco Bay that can keep pace with a Maxi Trimaran.
A foiling kiteboard is one of the few exceptions:




The sun shines bright on this summer afternoon as Joey Pasquali is inspecting his bridal lines for his high aspect ram air kite.
Joey has emerged a top contender in the kite foiling class here on San Francisco Bay area, and in recent events, Joey has proved more consistent than the master, Johnny Heineken, and leads this season's Thursday Night Kite Series by one point, he also won last years series outright by a sizable margin.



His work in the marine industry enhances his understanding of the bay's wind patterns and currents, but he cites the biggest advantage to date is the gear, "We are all getting closer with the equipment" and while Joey and Johnny fly different kites, the foils are identical and the boards very close.
But today, Joey has his sights on something bigger, MUCH bigger…









The 105' Maxi Trimaran Lending Club is prowling the Bay, and Joey wants to check it out and see what she's got, as the big tri works its way up towards the Golden Gate, Joey jumps into his wetsuit and in mere minutes is headed out for a little side by side comparison. They cross paths just outside The Gate and Lending Club bears off on starboard bursting towards the St Francis yacht club, the massive waterline and enormous sail area dwarfs Joey and his rig. Several of the crew recognize Joey all yell out words of encouragement and the other passengers are delighted to see something else that can possibly match Lending Club's speed. The path takes them near the South Tower, and while it might have been possible to roll the big tri, Joey backs off.

"The thing is massive and the wind shadow even bigger. The last thing I wanted to do is stall out in front of them". Joey passes to their stern, but not before being clocked at 38 knots.
Lending Club's sweet spot is 110 degrees off the wind; give or take, while the power spot for the foiling kite with the new high aspect ram-air kites is somewhere in the 170 degree range. " If it were a VMG thing, it would be no contest" said Joey" So long as you keep the kite flying”.

But there is the issue. Keeping the kites in the air and the board under the rider is no easy task, and as Joey found out on their 2nd crossing between Little Harding Rock and Alcatraz when one of the control lines detached itself from the control bar, and with that, the kit plummeted. " It took a good 20 minutes to figure out, but I was able to reattach the line and get the kite flying again," all the while one of his colleagues driving one of the ferry boats kept a watchful eye.






Joey regrouped and headed back to the beach, double checked his lines and waited for Lending Club's next run up the bay.
"It's an amazing experience, sailing besides her, she is a definite weapon and I was surprised how quiet the boat is. When you are side-by-side doing 30 plus knots and the center hull starts to emerge it is breathtaking. I would not want to fall in front of her, and I really would avoid the lee side, your kite has no chance in that wind shadow"






Joeys second encounter was much less eventful, and while the angles are all wrong for direct side by side comparisons, the thrill of sharing a few moments while blasting across San Francisco Bay is unforgettable. "Now I REALLY want to go for a ride on her" Joey ended!


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Editors note:

It has been a real blessing to have Lending Club sailing the San Francisco Bay recently a a big kudos to the team and the man behind it all Renaud Leplanche for the foresight and generosity
in putting together the program that has loaned itself to being great ambassadors to the sport. We press Ryan for some Q & A before the prior piece was published on Lending Club, but conflicts in schedules disallowed that to occur, so here is a retro Q & A :


PD: World is the boat returns to France later this summer and will continue campaigns under another label:

RB:Yes, the boat goes back to Brittany in September. The Owner is IDEC, Francis Joyon's sponsor. He has communicated that he will be attempting a Jules Verne record with crew and the small rig will go back in.

PD: Knowing what you know about the difficulties in obtaining and maintaining sponsorships, how great is it for Lending Club to step up and take that aspect over? Rumor has it when this project ends there might be a custom boat built to continue the program?

RB:First, it should be clear that Lending Club has not sponsored this project. Renaud Laplanche, the CEO of Lending Club is the co-skipper for this boat and he has funded the project himself. He has put the company colors on the sails because he can and he has generously invited Lending Club guests and employees to sail on the boat, but in his words, he will not make Lending Club shareholders pay for his pleasure. So back to your question, will Lending Club have a boat built for them? No. Will he? I don't know, he's not confirmed one yet.

Sponsorship is huge but to go back to my first point, this is not a corporate sponsored program. This is a record breaking project paid for by a private individual. Renaud Laplanche is having his company benefit from his investment but Lending Club are not spending any money on this project. That being said, I sincerely hope it acts as a prime example of how a sailing project can benefit a corporation through internal and external communication avenues.

PD: How did the whole project come together?

RB: We met sailing during the Transpac in 2013 onboard Tritium an Orma 70 owned by John Sangmeister. John had hired me to prepare the boat for the race and Renaud had sponsored a part of the project so that the sails had Lending Club on them. We had a great race even though we didn't get the record that time. We realized immediately we had the same ideas regarding sailing and that we should work together on future projects.

PD:You have some very well known names on the team, how did you put it together?

RB: The sailing team is a reduced number of 8. We selected a team of guys who have a very wide experience and can all do all the positions. We can all drive, we can all navigate and we can all run to the bow and deal with the sails. This means we can sail with a reduced number keeping weight down and increasing our chances for the record.

For the rest of the team, we have an awesome backup team, pro sailors who have been working hard during all the sailing with guests and who were onboard for the deliveries and who will step off during the race to become shore team. Its a big boat and it requires a lot of people to keep things safe! The crew working on the boat are all guys I have worked with over the years and who have a lot of very varied experience. Its natural to want to work with your friends, I have been lucky enough to work with some very talented guys and have brought them together for this project.


PD: The move to grand prix maxi trimaran is a quantum leap for an American sailor, especially one who's name is not Fossett, how did you parlay your rigging and offshore skills into the current program?

RB: My first experience with big multis was on Playstation a few years ago, I was on the boat for a short period to do a 24 record attempt. My main experience with big multis came with the arrival of the MOD70 series. I was in France at the time and working with the Veolia team. We got hull #2 and I was named in charge of all technical aspects as well as being race crew. I oversaw the end of the build of the boat, we trained, won the Fastnet in 2011, had a winter training session in Morocco, winter refit and then the program stopped. I immediately went to work with the Oman MOD70 team, fine tuned the boat, delivered to the USA and did the first ever Atlantic race with the boat. The learning curve is pretty steep when you compare to a monohull but the beauty of the MOD70 was that it was designed to be safe, simple and really really fast.

PD: Thank you Ryan!

Lending Club on SF Bay Gallery