America's Cup organisers said in a statement http://bit.ly/2E6lUgA that Malta Altus had been accepted as the fourth confirmed challenger for the "Auld Mug" in Auckland in 2021, when the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron will defend the title.
Only one crew will ultimately go forward to take on the defenders in a best-of-13 head-to-head series with the successful challengers decided in the newly-launched Prada Cup series.
The other challengers confirmed for the America's Cup in 2021 are the Challenger of Record Luna Rossa from Italy, American Magic from the United States and Britain's INEOS Team UK.
"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," Grant Dalton, CEO of Emirates team New Zealand said on Thursday, welcoming the Maltese team.
Emirates Team New Zealand won the coveted trophy in 2017 from Larry Ellison's Oracle Team USA in Bermuda.
"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," Pasquale Cataldi, team principal of Malta Altus Challenge, said in a statement.
Seven other prospective challengers made applications to join the contest before the deadline last week and they will be processed over the next few weeks, organisers said.
(Reporting by Philip George in Bengaluru, editing by Nick Mulvenney)
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