Malta pulls out of America’s Cup

Published on May 31st, 2019

Auckland, New Zealand (May 31, 2019) – The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron has advised that today they received a notice from the Royal Malta Yacht Club officially withdrawing the Malta Altus Challenge from the 36th America’s Cup.

“This is a disappointing outcome,” said Grant Dalton, “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.”

“We are wanting the Prada Cup to include as many teams as possible,” said 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. We are still guaranteed to have an exciting and highly competitive Prada Cup to select the final challenger to race against Emirates Team New Zealand in the Match.”

The financial backers of the project, led by Italian businessman Pasquale Cataldi, have apparently failed to raise the necessary financing for the project to make material steps towards building a challenging yacht.

It is understood that that none of the contracted team – who had been drawn mostly from the ranks of Artemis Racing who pushed Emirates Team NZ hard in the Challenger Final for the 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda – has been paid for up to nine months of work.

The Florence-based Cataldi heads Altus a multinational real estate and development company with a reported $3.5 billion in assets. He was working in conjunction with his business partner in Altus, Mexico based Massimo Covarrubias.

The Malta Altus Challenge was the first of the three late Challenges to have been accepted, and under America’s Cup rules the RNZYS and Emirates Team NZ had no choice but to accept any valid Challenge that complied with the conditions of both documents.

After an Arbitration Panel hearing into the legality of the three Late Challengers accepted by RNZYS, Emirates Team NZ had remarked in a media statement that, “As a result of the delay [caused by the uncertainty over the validity of the three Challenges] there are now concerns as to the likelihood of the Malta Altus Challenge being able to continue”.

The two remaining late challengers, Stars + Stripes USA and DutchSail, will confirm their ongoing commitment to the 36th America’s Cup presented by Prada by July 1st.

After raising concerns over the reluctance of the financiers of the Challenge to commit their funds to the project, the Royal Malta Yacht Club reportedly took the initiative in the past week and exercised termination clauses in their contracts with Cataldi and his business associates.

“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,” Cataldi had stated when the Malta Altus Challenge was announced in December 2018.

It is understood there was an arrangement in place for financial support from the Maltese government, with the Prime Minister of Malta an enthusiastic supporter of the Challenge. He had tweeted the news of the Challenge just seconds after the conclusion of a meeting cementing government support, but evidently, the team was unable to meet the financial conditions to enable the drawdown of funds.

The Challenge formed a New Zealand registered company listing Cataldi and Covarrubias as shareholders. The company was registered just over a week after the Challenge was formally announced.

A second company presumably to run the Maltese end of the Challenge was registered in Malta listing Cataldi, Covarrubias and other Maltese as shareholders.

Altus and Cataldi were initially linked with Adelasia di Torres, an early potential Italian Challenger from Sardinia. But in a few weeks, Altus switched its loyalty to the newer Malta Altus Challenge. Cataldi was also named in the Italian media as being the board chairman of Malta-based BitBull Fund which specialises in cryptocurrencies and he also shared a business interest in blockchain technology.

“We leave the race with a lot of recriminations,” Cataldi told reporters.

“The Altus Challenge was built on a strong and solid foundation, with clear ideas and a project that would leave a lasting sporting legacy. On more than one occasion we were one step away from fulfilling our commitments, we battled hard but in the end we were forced to throw in the towel as we did not have enough time to bring in new financial partners.

“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.”

“When we announced the challenge alongside the Malta Royal Challenge and with the support of the Maltese government, it caught the imagination of a whole nation.

“But unfortunately, we were let down by the Maltese government who did not keep up his commitment to sustain the development of the team according to our plans.

“Despite the Maltese government’s withdrawal, we still tried to go forward without the name of Malta but still through the Royal Malta Yacht Club.

“We believed we could do still do it until the last second but an America’s Cup challenge is a very serious thing and when you don’t have the time necessary to be competitive, it only fair to pull out.”

Despite this disappointment, Cataldi is still harbouring hopes of mounting an America’s Cup bid in the future.

“I’m still hungry to try and compete in the America’s Cup in the future,” he said.

“I’m still proud of the work done by our Altus Challenge. We were in New Zealand where we interacted with the Defender and the Challenger of Record. We met some huge personalities of this race and gained valuable experience.

“It was evident that this was going to be a very tough America’s Cup, with some extreme yachts that would provide difficult challenges.

“I’m sure that this experience will provide us with a solid ground on which one day we could restart our America’s Cup bid.”

While the Maltese challenge has been withdrawn, Malta will continue to play a small part in the 36th America’s Cup with its application to the Arbitration Panel to have the meaning of sailing “nationality” confirmed in the context of this America’ Cup. That ruling opened the way to anyone holding a passport of the country of the club they represented being a legal national of the team in respect of the America’s Cup Protocol which had a ‘100% nationality’ rule for all sailing crew.

Source: America’s Cup Event Limited,,

In addition to Challenges from Italy, USA, and Great Britain that were accepted during the initial entry period (January 1 to June 30, 2018), eight additional Notices of Challenge were received by the late entry deadline on November 30, 2018. Of those eight submittals, entries from Malta, USA, and The Netherlands have also been accepted. Here’s the current list:

• Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL)

• Luna Rossa (ITA) – Challenger of Record
• American Magic (USA)
• Malta Altus Challenge (MLT) – WITHDREW
• Stars & Stripes Team USA (USA)
• DutchSail (NED)

Key America’s Cup dates:
✔ September 28, 2017: 36th America’s Cup Protocol released
✔ November 30, 2017: AC75 Class concepts released to key stakeholders
✔ January 1, 2018: Entries for Challengers open
✔ March 31, 2018: AC75 Class Rule published
✔ June 30, 2018: Entries for Challengers close
✔ August 31, 2018: Location of the America’s Cup Match and The PRADA Cup confirmed
✔ August 31, 2018: Specific race course area confirmed
✔ November 30, 2018: Late entries deadline
✔ March 31, 2019: Boat 1 can be launched (DELAYED)
✔ 2nd half of 2019: 2 x America’s Cup World Series Preliminary Events (CANCELLED)
February 1, 2020: Boat 2 can be launched
During 2020: 3 x America’s Cup World Series Preliminary Events
December 10-20, 2020: America’s Cup Christmas Race
January and February 2021: The PRADA Cup Challenger Selection Series
March 2021: The America’s Cup Match


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