Boaters on Charleston Harbor should expect some strange sightings this weekend with a couple of versions of sailing's X Games taking place.
North American Moth Championships
WHEN: Friday-Sunday, with races starting after 10 a.m.
WHERE: James Island Yacht Club
WHAT: Approximately 20 members of Moth fleet racing series of slalom courses.
Fort 2 Battery
WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday
WHAT: Moths, kiteboards, wind surfers and catamarans compete in straight-line race from Fort Sumter to the Battery. At 2:30 p.m. Best Kiteboarding Pro team exhibition near the Battery.
Weekend of sailing
The North American Moth Championships will be sailed Friday through Sunday out of James Island Yacht Club. The competition features one-person, 65-pound carbon fiber boats that virtually fly above the water on hydrofoils at speeds approaching 35 mph.
After the finish of the James Island events Sunday, many members of the Moth fleet will head to Fort Sumter where they will be joined by sailors on kiteboards, wind surfers and catamarans for the inaugural Fort 2 Battery event, a straight-line drag race scheduled to start at 3 p.m.
There also will be a professional kiteboard exhibition at the Battery at 2:30 p.m.
Charleston sailing enthusiast Tim Fitzgerald said he modeled the Fort 2 Battery event after San Francisco's Ronstan Bridge to Bridge race from the Golden Gate to the Bay Bridge. That event drew 70 entries, and the Fort 2 Battery race already has almost 40 entries.
"It will only take about 12 to 15 minutes for us to get there. There's going to be a ton of action, a ton of chaos and color. It will be very cool to see," Fitzgerald said, warning power boaters to be mindful that some of the boats in the event will be able to go faster than the powerboats.
While the Moth class has been around for years, only recently has it developed into something akin to the Star Wars X Fighters. Patrick Wilson of James Island, who plans to sail in both events, said the Moth is like no kind of sailing he's ever done.
"From the first time I jumped on one, it was like 'I've got to start sailing these.' It's like nothing else. It really feels like you are flying," said Wilson, a former College of Charleston sailor.
"It's like no kind of sailing I've ever done before. It's just radically different, like the next generation of sailing. People are going to be 'foiling' and going faster."
Wilson, who bought a used 2009 Moth just over a year ago, said there are 20 to 25 people in the U.S. that are actively sailing the boats.
"(The Moth races) are not like a regular regatta. It's almost like a cross between a regular regatta and a surf competition. Everyone's having so much fun sailing the boats but at the same time it's competitive and serious."