The chances of the first ever Maltese America’s Cup challenge continuing are in doubt today according to a press release from the event’s organisers – the Defender Emirates Team New Zealand and the Challenger of Record Luna Rossa Challenge.
The short release announced the publication of the America’s Cup arbitration panel’s findings on a dispute over the validity of the three late entry challenges – Stars + Stripes Team USA, DutchSail, and Malta Altus Challenge.
All three were confirmed as valid after the defender and the COR agreed to amendments to the America’s Cup protocol allowing for late entry fees to be paid by deferred instalments. However, despite this the New York Yacht Club-backed American Magic syndicate continued to pursue their arbitration case against the three teams – a gambit which ultimately failed to change the outcome.
The America’s Cup release describes the American Magic action as “anti-competitive” and as having caused “further delays and uncertainty for the teams and frustrated the Challenger of Record and the Defender who have been working together in the best interests of the event”.
The release goes on to say:
“As a result of the delay there are now concerns as to the likelihood of the Maltese Malta Altus Challenge being able to continue. However, the Challenger of Record and the Defender continue to work with DutchSail and Stars & Stripes to enable them to make the start line in Auckland in 2021”.
While the release does not go into specifics about how the Malta Altus Challenge was affected by the delays, it is easy to understand that any uncertainty about the validity of the team’s challenge being accepted would not have made fund raising any easier for the syndicate.
Unlike the other two late entries, little is known about the Malta syndicate which is headed backed by the Royal Malta Yacht Club and led by team principal Pasquale Cataldi – an Italian-born businessman based in Malta and founder of the real estate and development company, Altus.
No skipper or sailing team announcements had been made however rumours had linked Artemis Racing boss Iain Percy – a British double Olympic medallist – with the team.