GAT: Come Sail Away
Ever wondered what the Indianapolis Sailing Club (ISC) is all about? Well, we have! The ISC is in its 61st season of sailing on Geist Reservoir. The club facilities and grounds are the finest in the Midwest, and their programs provide a packed calendar with some of the best activities of any sailing or yacht club around.
With several different classes of extremely affordable memberships, the ISC has something for everyone. From senior to junior associate memberships and memberships for boat owners and non-boat owners in all age categories, their goal is to get people out on the lake!
ISC has a well-defined racing program hosting regattas ranging from local events to national championships. Many of the ISC’s Associate Members are experienced with sailing cats or other diverse boats. They are ready to crew or help new boat owners learn the ropes.
With free use of club-owned sailboats and junior and adult training sailing classes, the ISC’s strength lies in their diversity and member willingness to help all levels of sailors both on and off the water. Sitting atop Geist’s highest vantage point, the ISC’s beautiful grounds of docks, picnic area and beaches provides the ideal setting for a relaxing afternoon of fun and adventure; a true hidden gem in Indianapolis!
Eager to learn more about the ISC and races, your Girls About Town boarded the Mary Morse 2, the Race Committee boat, for a beautiful afternoon of Sunday Club races. Our PRO (Principle Race Officer) was Ken McGinity, who officiated each race and was responsible for the management and conduct of all fleets racing while aboard the boat.
Together with Race Committee helpers, they record the finish of each boat as they cross the finish line. Two Safety Boats run about and are in charge of setting, changing and taking down racecourse marks. They are also there to protect the sailors on the water.
Once the anchors had been set, the race start line defined and the course established by the PRO, it was time for the races to start! The fleets represented were Thistle, Lightning, Snipe and Portsmouth with each category running its own race upwind to the Windward Mark, downwind to the Leeward Mark and back all over again.
The starting order for all fleets is marked by signs posted on the Race Committee boat for all to see. A one-minute warning horn was sounded as all the boats approached from the ISC, sails hoisted and ready to race! Three minute starting sequences with horns signaled by the Mary Morse 2 prepared each fleet for its start.
The Thistle Fleet was first to start the Windward-Leeward Course, which each boat must navigate around twice. Starting upwind between the Race Committee boat and the yellow buoy, each sailboat must round the Upward (Windward) Buoy (Mark), then head downwind (Leeward) towards the Leeward Mark.
For this race, we had 18 boats in participation with seven National Champions represented! On the first downward run, spinnakers (colorful additional large balloon-type sails) were hoisted, giving us a spectacular show of color and speed! Upon rounding the Leeward Buoy, the spinnakers were then lowered, and back windward they headed, tacking back and forth into the wind as they attempted to out-skill the next crew.
Simultaneously, the other fleets started their races in their posted order, and before we knew it, we were surrounded by a flurry of boats battling their way through the course! It was a brilliant day of sailing!
Watching the boats round the marks was especially exciting as seemingly all boats were trying to do this at the same time! Yes, slight collisions do occasionally happen; however, the Safety Boats are always on hand throughout the course. We watched several boats capsize, as often, the tacking and required skill heading up wind caught several crews off-guard.
It seemed the boat and crew with the fewest mistakes was the winner in each fleet. We learned fast doesn’t always win! Whew! What a fantastic show!
While there are endless sailing opportunities, free use of club-owned sailboats, a crew for skippers that race boats Sunday and Wednesday evenings and year-round docks for keelboats, not everyone is ready for sailing.
There are many activities for the entire family at the ISC. All 13 of its stunning acres are surrounded by water. Parties with live entertainment are regularly scheduled. Cookouts at the clubhouse are also fun and not to be missed every Wednesday night at the Zeebo during keelboat racing.
There is a children’s playground, fire pits with unlimited supply of wood year-round, grills to cook on and of course a beautiful beach. The club even provides Internet access throughout the property!
Since 1955, the ISC has been bringing family fun to Geist Reservoir. Whether you’re looking to sail your own boat or just be part of a crew to learn, you’re sure to find unlimited enjoyment on and off the lake. Curiosity and love of the water is what brought us out, and what we found was an entire seemingly hidden community of fun right here in our own backyard!
If you’re looking to watch the races, head out on a Sunday afternoon around 1:30 p.m. for the day sailing Club Races or Wednesday evenings around 6 p.m. for Keelboat Racing. Sit back and enjoy a thrilling show on the water! Just remember to stay clear of the racing course! Be prepared for an exciting time! Also a friendly reminder to all motor boaters…boats under sail always have the right of way!
The ISC is a member of the Inter-Lake Yachting Association and the Yachting Club of America. These organizations give members of the ISC privileges at clubs literally all over the world!
The ISC also boasts a Cruising Club established to encourage and promote travel to national and international ports for cruising. The trips help train people to navigate and handle the problems associated with larger sailboats and help them eventually qualify as Charter Skippers and crew.
Many thanks to Luke Mongin and our crew aboard Mary Morse 2 for a fun afternoon learning about the ISC and sailboat racing on Geist! We met many friendly faces who shared their stories of adventure and fun while welcoming us aboard the ISC!
Be sure to check out their website at indianapolissailing.org for a complete calendar of events, including regattas and Full Moon Sailing nights! Get out and try something different sailing by the light of the silvery moon! There’s even a shrimp boil coming up in August! Wintertime activities like Ice Boating and Kite Sailing are a definite not to be missed activity as well!
After 15 years of living on Geist Reservoir, we are a little saddened we haven’t enjoyed all there is to do at the hidden gem of ISC! As always, cheers and Happy 4th of July!!