The Cowes-based Royal Yacht Squadron has confirmed it is to challenge the holders New Zealand for the America's Cup.

Speculation mounted this week that a challenge had been offered by the prestigious Isle of Wight based club, soon after Team New Zealand defeated Italian team Prada Luna Rossa in the final of this year's America's Cup. 

Now, a deal has been signed, with Team INEOS UK, skippered by Isle of Wight resident Sir Ben Ainslie, set to challenge the Kiwis for the cup, which was first sailed for around the Isle of Wight.

A statement from Team Ineos and the RYS said Bertie Bicket, chairman of RYS Racing, had signed the letter of challenge aboard the yacht Imagine in New Zealand.Isle of Wight County Press: Aaron Young, commodore of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Club and Bertie Bicket, chairman of Royal Yacht Squadron Racing, signing the challenge.Aaron Young, commodore of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Club and Bertie Bicket, chairman of Royal Yacht Squadron Racing, signing the challenge.

Although no mention is made of where and when the contest will take place, it is expected to be in either 2022 or 2023 in The Solent, where it first began.

Read more: Isle of Wight MP reacts to America's Cup speculation.

A statement released overnight said: "INEOS have confirmed they will continue to back Sir Ben Ainslie’s team to win sport's oldest international trophy, giving much needed continuity, the cornerstone of every successful America’s Cup team.

"It will be the first time a British team has competed in three consecutive Cup cycles since Sir Thomas Lipton and the Royal Ulster YC bids between 1899 to 1930.

INEOS Team UK skipper and team principal Sir Ben Ainslie said: “INEOS Team UK are committed to working alongside Emirates Team New Zealand and our respective yacht clubs to continue the development of this historic event.

"The introduction of the AC75 class of yacht has proven to be a transformative moment in the history of the America’s Cup and will be the bedrock of a really bright future.”

The America’s Cup, the pinnacle of yachting, was first contested in 1851 in Cowes, Isle of Wight and organised by the Royal Yacht Squadron, pre-dating the modern Olympic Games by 45 years. The last British Challenger of Record to compete in an America’s Cup was the 12 metre, Sovereign in 1964.

Bertie Bicket, chairman of Royal Yacht Squadron Racing, who has been in Auckland, New Zealand for the duration of the 36th America’s Cup, said: “We are delighted to be embarking on our third successive America’s Cup challenge with Sir Ben Ainslie and INEOS, as the challenging yacht club for the 37th America’s Cup.

"We look forward to working with all parties and will strive to continue the tradition and history of this great sporting event.”