The founder of one of the largest surfing legacies, O’Neill wetsuits, and the man who kept us all warm in the surf for many a winter, Jack O’Neill passed away last Friday, June 2nd. He was 94.
In 1952, Jack O’Neill founded the O’Neill brand largely out of a determination to stay out surfing in Northern Cal. a little longer. He’s the one who experimented with various materials and played with design until he fashioned the neoprene wetsuit as we know it today. He is credited by many as the inventor of the first wetsuits in the 1950’s.
“It’s a sad day for surfing,” said Ken ‘Skindog’ Collins when he heard the news this past Friday.
Jack O’Neill is the reason most of us are able to surf into the winter months and stay out in the water longer than we would be able to survive without going hypothermic or otherwise. His brand and his logo is plastered on every street sign on every surf break from Cardiff to Ditch Plains. The house that Jack built is large and, in some ways, it includes us all.
Aloha and thank you, to the legend that made surfing the year-round, cold water sport that it is today.