The small fleet of Class 40 sailboats that departs the Charleston Maritime Center at noon Saturday hopes to carry a large message to New York City and Newport, Rhode Island - the importance of protecting the environment.

Five two-man crews will be manning the vessels in the fourth annual Atlantic Cup (atlanticcup.org) and are required to use solar panels or hydro generators to power the electronics on the boats. Biodiesel will be provided for the teams to use while getting to and from docks.

"What we want to do is inform people about the environment," said Jason Pellissier of the Atlantic Cup, noting that New York will be celebrating Water Week while the boats are in port. "The big thing is being eco-friendly. We try to be carbon-neutral."

The purse for the event is $20,000. The sailors will compete in a 685-mile sprint to New York and then on May 17 race 240 miles to Newport where they will compete in a two-day inshore series with a crew of six. The crew with the highest combined score on both legs will be crowned Atlantic Cup champions.

A Kids Day was held Friday at the Maritime Center with students from Charles Pinckney Elementary School spending time with the competitors.