Royal Malta Yacht Club presents historic challenge for America’s Cup

Malta Altus Challenge will be challenger for America’s Cup

Peter Burling at the helm as Team New Zealand race to victory over Artemis. America's Cup Bermuda 2017
Peter Burling at the helm as Team New Zealand race to victory over Artemis. America's Cup Bermuda 2017

The first ever challenge for the America’s Cup from the Royal Malta Yacht Club has been accepted by the defender trustee, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

Malta Altus Challenge becomes the fourth challenger for the 36th America’s Cup, joining challenger of record Luna Rossa (Circolo della Vela Sicilia), American Magic (New York Yacht Club) and INEOS Team UK (Royal Yacht Squadron).

The team principal is Pasquale Cataldi, an Italian businessman who is based in Malta, and the founder and CEO of the multinational real state and development company, Altus.

Cataldi is aware of the scale of the challenge of the America’s Cup, especially for a first time challenger, and he says he is taking a long-term approach to building towards success.

“Our goal is to do three editions of the America’s Cup. If you want to build a strong team, then you need to commit to three America’s Cup cycles. I think everyone in this edition is in it for the long-term. We have a new class, so the game is level for everybody, and the differences are not so much,” he explained.

Pasquale Cataldi
Pasquale Cataldi

The Malta Altus Challenge will be led by experienced America’s Cup hands with an eye on developing local talent in Malta in the fields of design and engineering, and boatbuilding. The sailing crew will include nationals of Malta and international sailors as allowed under the Protocol for the 36th America’s Cup.

“The Malta Altus Challenge project is a very exciting one for Malta,” said Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. “We look forward to cooperate further to see this vision become a reality.”    

As a late entry and with a restricted budget compared to the other existing challengers, the team is planning on a one-boat campaign and Cataldi says he is looking to the Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand for inspiration.

“We don’t need to be the biggest team. We want to stay focussed on what we have to do to succeed and be smart with how we use our resources,” he said. “We have already seen in the past how a similar approach by New Zealand allowed a smaller team to defeat bigger rivals.”

Malta now becomes the smallest country to challenge for the America’s Cup in its 167-year history, a title previously held by New Zealand, a three-time winner of the oldest trophy in international sport.

“We’re happy to welcome the Royal Malta Yacht Club and the Malta Altus Challenge to the 36th America’s Cup,” said Grant Dalton, the CEO of Emirates Team New Zealand.

“We know what it is like to be a small team facing long odds in taking on one of the biggest challenges in sport and we wish them the best.”

The Royal Malta Yacht Club can trace its origins back to 1835 and is well known in yachting circles for organising and hosting the Rolex Middle Sea Race every autumn.

“This is a massive opportunity for our club to promote Malta and the skills that exist in the marine industry on a global stage,” said Godwin Zammit, the Commodore of the Royal Malta Yacht Club.

“On behalf of the Club, I’d like to thank the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Emirates Team New Zealand for their assistance throughout the challenge process and we can’t wait to get down there and start racing in December of 2020.”

The Malta Altus Challenge will present its full team at a launch event in Malta in the first quarter of 2019.

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