By Sadie Hunter
Since 2009, Todd Bracken has operated Dauntless Sailing School with his sailboat, Dauntless.
Beginning this month, he is entering what he calls prime sailing season and the re-opening of the “hayride on the water” sunset cruises, running from 3 to 5:30 p.m. each Saturday in October.
“Particularly in the fall, because the weather is a lot nicer, it’s fantastic to be out here,” Bracken said from his boat, docked at Geist Marina. “Actually, the fall and the spring are the best sailing seasons. A lot of people think of sailing as a summer activity, but here, your best sailing conditions are in the early spring and late fall. So we’re just now getting into really, really good weather.”
The sailing classes and programs have seen more than 750 participants in the past seven years.
“We’re the most active sailing school in the Midwest as far as number of participants. We have two very popular programs geared towards two different types of audiences. One is the sunset cruise. We get a lot of date nights, anniversaries, birthday parties, girls’ nights out, and during the day, corporate private charters,” Bracken said. “The market that has developed with (the sunset cruises) are people looking for a unique, special experience with their significant other. I try to tie in the unique history of the lake, too. They can see key houses, kind of like a who’s who of Geist with Geist resident trivia thrown into that.”
Bracken said the other popular offering from Dauntless Sailing School is the adult beginner sailing course.
“We seem to have hit on a really unique niche where we’re focused towards adult beginners, people with little or absolutely no experience at all, and we walk them through the basics,” he said. “Our program is completely hands-on. You can’t learn to sail in a classroom.”
Bracken said all training is done aboard the Dauntless, which is the biggest boat on Geist. Wtihin four to six sessions, he said students should be able to safely sail his boat on their own.
Aside from his most popular offerings, Bracken also takes part with students in Great Lakes excursions, Regatta participation and ocean coast cruising expeditions.
To learn more, visit dauntlesssailing.com.
BECOMING A SAILOR
Todd Bracken says he picked up sailing as a young adult.
“It’s my dad that got me into it,” he said. “Growing up, my dad was kind of always the adventurous type, and he would drift from one adventure to another. In fact, when I was in junior high and early high school, he was into rock climbing. So he and I did a lot of rock climbing together. He actually climbed the Rocky Mountains at one point.
“Finally, as he got older, he settled in on sailing. So I picked that up with him as well.
“When IBM moved me up here to Indianapolis, I actually lived two blocks away (from Geist Lake), so I was literally a block away from the sailing club. I was very involved with that for many years.
“I always enjoyed teaching (sailing), so I always wanted to offer lessons. So in 2009, I moved over here to the marina and started.”
MEET TODD BRACKEN
Family: Married wife, Cheri, in 2013 aboard the Dauntless. Couple has 10 children ranging in age from 9 to 24.
Sailing career: Owner of Dauntless Sailing School and a licensed sailboat captain. More than 25 years of sailing and racing experience. Holds memberships to U.S. Sailing, Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation, C7C 27 Class Association and is a U.S. Power Squadrons advanced pilot and junior navigator. Previously served as safety chairman for the Indianapolis Sailing Club; water safety instructor for Red Cross; and lifeguard for Red Cross.
Professional career: Works in technology and software product management as a director of product management. Has worked for Interactive Intelligence, WellPoint Inc., BioSentinel Solutions LLC and IBM.
Education: Grew up near Rockport, Ind. and attended North Spencer High School. Graduated in 1988 from Asbury University with a bachelor’s degree in communications. Graduated in 1994 with an MBA from Regent University’s School of Business Administration.
Interesting fact: Bracken’s family members were original Indiana pioneers. “It was right here in Fishers,” Bracken said. “So they settled Fishers back in 1825. Highland Cemetery, which is located right up here in Fishers off of Hoosier Road, is basically my family cemetery. I’ve got five generations of ancestors buried there. I consider this area my home. Literally, we’ve been here for centuries.”