Malta is now officially the smallest country to ever mount a challenge for the sailing competition. Malta Altus Challenge will be the first ever Maltese sailing team to compete in America’s Cup.
For the first time in history, a Maltese yacht will be participating in the America’s Cup, the oldest international sporting trophy.
Malta’s Altus Challenge has officially been confirmed as the fourth challenger to be accepted for the prestigious race’s 36th edition in early 2021, alongside challenger of record Luna Rossa (Circolo della Vela Sicilia), American Magic (New York Yacht Club) and INEOS Team UK (Royal Yacht Squadron).
As expected, this news also means that Malta is now the smallest country to ever mount a challenge in the archaic cup’s history… which spans an impressive 167 years.
The Royal Malta Yacht Club whose origins can be traced back to 1835, predating the America’s Cup’s existence, is indeed internationally renowned as the organizer of the 50 year old Middle Sea Race, the 606 miles regatta starting from La Valletta and sailed anti-clockwise around Sicily.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat took to Instagram to celebrate this historic moment in Maltese sporting history, as many more celebrated the Royal Malta Yacht Club’s achievement.
Malta Altus Challenge’s team principal is Pasquale Cataldi, an Italian businessman based in Malta and the founder and CEO of Altus, a multinational real state and development company. The sailing team, which will include Malta nationals and international sailors as allowed under the cup’s protocol, will be announced in early 2019.
As a late entry and with a restricted budget compared to the other challengers, Malta Altus Challenge is planning on a one-boat campaign and will look to Emirates Team New Zealand for inspiration, Cataldi said in a statement.
“We don’t need to be the biggest team. We want to stay focused on what we have to do to succeed and be smart with how we use our resources,” Cataldi said. “And, we have already seen in the past how a similar approach by New Zealand allowed a smaller team to defeat bigger rivals.”
Malta has a population of approximately 460,000 and a land mass of just 122 square miles (316 square kilometers). Malta’s strategic position in the Mediterranean has made it a hub of maritime activity and an important port throughout history.