Charles Kiefer has sailed NIRVANA, a 1982 aluminum MAXI designed by Dave Pedrick, in five Bermuda Races. She broke the race elapsed time record in her first Bermuda Race the same year she was built. In spite of setting that record, which she held for 14 years, she did not win the race or her class in 1982. Kiefer sails with an all-amateur crew, something that is rare in the MAXI world.
“She is actually luxurious,” reports Kiefer, “with a bath tub, a chest freezer, a fridge in the cockpit, surround-sound theater, heat, AC, genset, a full teak interior, 45 PSI hot water and a full commercial galley. And we use all of it while racing.” Kiefer hires a chef from the Mt. Washington Hotel to keep his crew well fed with gourmet meals served on china, complete with silver and crystal. “Even if we don’t win,” Kiefer adds, “we have a great time doing something we all love—in style. When we beat stripped out racers we enjoy it all the more, as a victory over modern technology with a traditional yacht.”
As an aging athlete NIRVANA doesn’t expect to win any more: her age and her IOR roots keep her from participating at the highest level with more modern boats. However, “she can still handle a race with dignity and class, and she can give the competition a fair run under the right conditions. She is sailed in blue water races because that is what she was built for, and that is where she feels the best.”