First Ever Maltese Sailing Team To Compete In America’s Cup
Malta is now officially the smallest country to ever mount a challenge for the sailing competition
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.
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.
The Malta Altus Challenge will present its full team (including both Maltese and international sailors) in the first quarter of 2019.
“This is a massive opportunity for our club to promote Malta and the skills that exist in the marine industry on a global stage,” Commodore Godwin Zammit said.
The entire premise of the America's Cup revolves around the reigning champion (known as the defender) battling it out against the challenger. The timing of each match is determined by an agreement between the defender and the challenger, a tradition that goes all the way back to 1851, when the titular schooner America had won the trophy which was donated to the New York Yacht Club after a race around the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom.
The most recent champion of the America's Cup (affectionately known as the Auld Mug) is the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, who have already won the trophy three times (they first won it back in 1995).
Malta Altus Challenge might be facing a relatively restricted budget - especially when teams like Oracle are rumoured to have spent some $300 million dollars to defend their stewardship of the trophy just five years ago - but the team is planning a one-boat campaign and said they "don't need the biggest team", quoting New Zealand's own relatively small size and great success in previous editions.