Malta Altus will not race in Auckland in 2021, leaving just three confirmed America’s Cup challengers

An America’s Cup challenger from Malta has officially pulled out of the 2021 America’s Cup in New Zealand. Malta Altus had been accepted earlier this year as a late entry by the America’s Cup Arbitration Panel, despite fees of $1 million not yet being paid up.

The challenge had the backing of Italian businessman Pasquale Cataldi, who has a real estate business, Altus, based in Florence, and the challenge was to be under the aegis of the Royal Malta Yacht Club. Possible Maltese government funding had also been part of the financial formula, but with the money not in place the Royal Malta YC are said to have decided to withdraw the challenge.

“This is a disappointing outcome,” said Grant Dalton, CEO of Cup holder Emirates Team New Zealand. “The Malta Altus Challenge had a strong foundation with some highly experienced and reputable America’s Cup personnel linked to the team.

“So, for them to pull out is not just a shame for the event but also for those people that have worked so hard trying to get this challenge to the start line. We hope they will continue to build on their foundation over the next 18 months with a view to the future and challenging for the 37th America’s Cup.”

Malta Altus was one of three teams struggling to raise the money needed to campaign for the Cup. The remaining two late challengers are the DutchSail challenge and US challenger Stars + Stripes USA. Challenger of record Luna Rossa and defender Emirates New Zealand had accepted an amendment to the rules allowing their entry fees to be deferred and paid by instalments.

“We are wanting the Prada Cup to include as many teams as possible,” says Laurent Esquier, CEO of the Challenger of Record.

“While we have done all we can to support the Malta Altus Challenge, they haven’t been able to bring together all the layers of complexity that are needed to continue with an America’s Cup challenge.”

Payment of the entry fees is a condition of acceptance to race in the America’s Cup, but an arbitration panel ruled that these only become due before the first race of the competition.

The first of the new World Series regattas to be raced in the new AC75 foiling monohulls was to kick off in Cagliari in Italy, where Luna Rossa is based, but has now been postponed until spring next year.

The America’s Cup organising body has confirmed that Stars + Stripes USA and DutchSail “need to confirm they their ongoing commitment to the 36th America’s Cup presented by Prada by 1 July”.

Three ‘Super Teams’ have re-confirmed they will be on the start line of the 2021 America’s Cup: Challenger of Record Luna Rossa, Ben Ainslie’s INEOS Team UK and American Magic.