America's Cup: Malta confirms challenge for Auld Mug

The tiny Mediterranean island nation of Malta has been confirmed as one of eight challengers for the 2021 America's Cup in Auckland.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat confirmed on Twitter that its historic first challenge would line up for the 36th edition of the regatta, sailing under the name 'Malta Altus'.

"For the first time ever, a challenger from Malta has been accepted for 36th America’s Cup. The Malta Altus Challenge will come from the smallest country to ever compete for America's Cup."

Malta has a population of about 475,000.

Last week, Team New Zealand confirmed eight challenges had been submitted before the entry deadline.

So far, Italian challenger-of-record Luna Rossa, Sir Ben Ainslie's INEOS Team UK and American Magic from the New York Yacht Club are racing for the Prada Cup.

The Royal Malta Yacht Club has already established itself in yachting circles for organising and hosting the Rolex Middle Sea Race for 50 years.

"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.

"We look forward to co-operate further to see this vision become a reality."

Team NZ chief executive Grant Dalton is pleased to have Malta taking part in the event.

"We are happy to welcome the Royal Malta Yacht Club and the Malta Altus Challenge to the 36th America’s Cup," he said.

"After New Zealand, they are now the smallest country to challenge for the America’s Cup. We know what it is like to be a small team facing long odds in taking on one of the biggest challenges in sport and we wish them the best," said Dalton.

The full team and further information regarding the challenge will be announced in Malta during the first quarter of 2019.

Newshub.