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Elite, eco-friendly 1,000-mile sailing race to start in Charleston Saturday

A sailboat gets ready for the Atlantic Cup in the Charleston Harbor Friday. (WCIV)

The sixth edition of the Atlantic Cup, a premier eco-friendly sailing race, will start in Charleston on Saturday.

"The most exciting thing about this race is lining up against our sister ships," said Micah Davis, a competitor from Portland, Maine. "It's hard in North America to find 11 Class 40s participating in a race."

A Class 40 is a monohull sailing yacht, a type of boat popular in Europe and gaining popularity in America.

The race starts in Charleston and will end with inshore events in Portland after a stop in New York.

Competitors say the mix of offshore and inshore events make it truly unique and extremely competitive.

Davis is a Portland native and hopes to cash in on his home port advantage.

"We've got some good local knowledge to help us out and local karma I hope," Davis said.

It's like NASCAR, according to four-time Atlantic Cup competitor and College of Charleston graduate Tristan Mouligne.

"All the boats are similar in speed," he said. "They have subtle differences. The race comes down to a couple of minutes in the end."

Forget the fuel. Each boat is equipped with a hydro generator and solar panels to protect the sailors' playground.

"You can run the whole boat off that," said race director Hugh Piggin. "Basically, you drop this in the water and the motion of the boat will spin the propeller. That will generate electricity that you can charge your batteries with."

Each boat has only a two-man crew.

"It makes for a very challenging race because two guys have to do everything on the boat," said Piggin.

Eleven teams from all over the will compete.

The race starts at noon on Saturday near the Maritime Center. The best place in Charleston to view the start is near the Battery.

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