Malta’s America’s Cup Challenge is over after team owner Pasquale Cataldi confirmed that he was forced to withdraw the Altus Challenge from the prestigious world race due to lack of financial support.
Last November, Malta had caught the headlines of the international sailing portals after it was announced that the tiny Mediterranean island was accepted as one of the entries for the 2021 Americas Cup despite fees of $1 million not yet being paid up.
The challenge had the backing of Italian businessman Pasquale Cataldi and was to be under the aegis of the Royal Malta Yacht Club. Funding from the Maltese government had also been part of the financial formula, but with the money not in place the RMYC are said to have decided to withdraw the challenge.
Malta Altus was one of three teams struggling to raise the money needed to campaign for the Cup, Yachtingworld.com reported.
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 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.”
Cataldi said that one of the main reasons behind his team’s withdrawal was the fact that the much-promised support from the Maltese government failed to materialize.
“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,” Cataldi said.
“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.”
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