Malta have confirmed they are one of the eight new challengers for the America’s Cup in Auckland in 2021.

It’s their first challenge for the Auld Mug and they’ll sail under the name Malta Altus.

Malta is the smallest country to mount a challenge in the cup’s 167-year history, a title previously held by New Zealand, three-time winner of the oldest trophy in international sport.

The Royal Malta Yacht Club’s Malta Altus Challenge becomes the fourth challenger to be accepted for the 36th edition, joining challenger of record Luna Rossa (Circolo della Vela Sicilia), American Magic (New York Yacht Club) and INEOS Team UK (Royal Yacht Squadron).

“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 told the Times of Malta.

The team principal is Pasquale Cataldi, an Italian businessman based in Malta, and the founder and CEO of the multinational real estate and development company, Altus.

Mr Cataldi said he was taking a long-term approach to this massive undertaking but with a limited budget is planning only a one boat challenge for 2021.

“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,” he explained.

“We don’t need to be the biggest team. We want to stay focussed on what we have to do to succeed and be smart with how we use our resources,” Mr Cataldi said.

“We have already seen in the past how a similar approach by New Zealand allowed a smaller team to defeat bigger rivals.”