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Did You Know...

... that National Skydiving League and Americas Cup are merging?

SkyVenture Orlando inventor Bill Kitchen
posted Jan 3rd, 2014 - This was the headline of the news story on January 3rd, 2001, 13 years ago. It is time again to take a look at the Sun Path Products NSL News archives, before indoor and outdoor competition action takes over all news coverage. There are many news stories that cannot be found in any of the current databases.

The press release below was issued by the National Skydiving League and America's Cup owner Alan Metni in 2001, who was also an 8way world champion with Arizona Airspeed. The America's Cup had to be discontinued shortly after the NSL had begun to take action on the merger, while Alan Metni had other plans in his mind. He was in the middle of negotiations to take over the SkyVenture operation.

SkyVenture Orlando was built in 1998 by inventor Bill Kitchen and sold to Alan Metni after a few years, who saw the great potential of indoor skydiving. Alan Metni is now operating the biggest indoor franchise system in the world, iFLY, and owns several wind tunnels with his own investment group.

Alan Metni with Arizona Airspeed in 2001

Sun Path Products NSL News on 3 January 2001

NSL President Kurt Gaebel and AC President Alan Metni silently prepared a marriage that has been anticipated and asked for by many people. It's a done deal now: NSL and AC will merge beginning with the 2001 season. Gaebel and Metni are both excited about the potential for even more growth and progression of their favorite passion: 4-way Formation Skydiving competition.

The merger will not change the structure of the National Skydiving League very much. However, it will bring most of the top teams in the country into the NSL game plan. Arizona Airspeed will fully participate in the NSL 2001 season. The Golden Knights have already completed their whole 2001 schedule, including the full participation in the Carolina Skydiving League, plus a few additional meets at other leagues as guest teams. The Floridian top teams have been part of the system in the past years.

With the Americas Cup events as the NSL Playoffs, the competition will become much more exciting. At the same time, the former AC events will now become more affordable for teams and competitors. Following is the offcial press release.

RankNSL Playoffs 2001LeagueRd. 1
Rd. 2
Rd. 3
Rd. 4
Rd. 5
Rd. 6
Rd. 7
Rd. 8
Rd. 9
Rd. 10
2PD BlueFSL2123181725221616171619119.1
5Angry BeesCaSL1017121016161313131313313.3
NSL Playoffs South at the Atlanta Skydiving Center in 2000

Press Release

After years of silent co-operation between the National Skydiving League and the Americas Cup tour, both organizations have decided to officially combine their efforts. Over the course of 2001, AC President, Alan Metni, and NSL President, Kurt Gaebel, will integrate the currently scheduled Americas Cup events into the NSL. Currently scheduled Americas Cup events will become the NSL Playoffs of the 2001 season.

The NSL introduced the Playoff concept at the end of the 2000 season. Due to its success, and in an effort to broaden participation and reduce travel distances, the NSL recently decided to increase the number of playoff events for 2001. The merger with the Americas Cup offers the perfect opportunity to continue the AC concept of higher-level competitions and integrate it into the overall NSL structure.

The combination of the Americas Cup and the National Skydiving League was natural and inevitable. Both organizations began their efforts at almost exactly the same time. Both were built to achieve the same basic goals: to increase the number of competitions in the U.S.A. and to drive Formation Skydiving into the mainstream of American Sport.

DeLand Genesis at the Florida Skydiving League 1998
The Florida Skydiving League began its first season in late 1996 while the first Americas Cup event was held in the Spring of 1997. During 1997, the Texas Skydiving League and the Georgia Skydiving League launched their first seasons. With the combination of the Florida, Georgia and Texas leagues, the National Skydiving League was born in 1998.

While the Americas Cup continued its concept of holding a smaller number of larger competitions, the NSL built an extensive network of regional leagues for teams at all levels of performance. The NSL grew to eight leagues in 1999 and thirteen in 2000. Five more leagues are preparing their launch of the inaugural season in 2001.

Over the years, the Americas Cup owed much of its popularity to the attendance of world-champion caliber teams locked in a series of ferocious battles building up to the US Nationals. As a result of its well developed competition structure and organization, the National Skydiving League has grown to include competitors of all levels across the country. As a direct result of both of these efforts, the amount and quality of formation skydiving competition has grown dramatically in the last four years.

Golden Knights with NSL Shugar Cup at SkyQuest 2001
As a result of the merger, all of the assets of the Americas Cup have been sold to the National Skydiving League. In a separate transaction, Mr. Metni has become a minority partner in the NSL. The two Americas Cup trophies (graciously donated by Dr. Joel Shugar) will be donated to the NSL and USPA and the U. S. skydiving community as perpetual trophies awarded each year to the USPA and NSL champions. The NSL will remain focused exclusively on the 4-way event.

Gaebel and Metni expect the National Skydiving League to continue its rapid growth as it improves the environment for competitors and moves Formation Skydiving into the mainstream. They have already begun to work together in the key areas of marketing, public relations, media coverage, and the relationship with USPA.

Gaebel and Metni plan to hold five different NSL Americas Cup playoff events at various locations across the country. These playoffs will serve as the qualifiers for entry into the 2001 NSL Championship. The complete concept for the 2001 season will be posted soon. Depending on the outcome of discussions between USPA and NSL, the NSL Championship may run concurrently with the 2001 U.S. Nationals. Merging the NSL Championship with the U.S. Nationals seems to be the next natural step on the way to a well-functioning and progressive nationwide structure of U.S. Formation Skydiving.

--- End of Press Release ---

Race of the "real" America's Cup
The news update continued after the official press release: "It seems as if not only Gaebel and Metni have a good reason to be excited about this move. Both organizations have already done many good things for the sport in the past. An even stronger organization taking care of the needs of teams and competitors can only give the progression even more momentum. More news regarding the merger will be posted soon and continuously."

It was a big move with big goals by then. Alan Metni took a different direction shortly after the merger, while the National Skydiving League continued with growing the network and soon reaching out to create the international SKYLEAGUE network. The new website was launched in 2003 and will soon be updated again with a modern and technically sophisticated design.

The Americas Cup did not last much longer after the merger. An attorney's letter from the much older Americas Cup informed the National Skydiving League that the name was protected by copyright. Only the National Skydiving League continued...

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