Jack O’Neill, The Man Who Invented The Wetsuit, Died Today
A warm farewell.
Jack O’Neill is credited for a piece of rubber that forever changed surfing. The wetsuit opened new frontiers and made winter tolerable. Most of us can attribute 80 percent of our sessions to Jack. That’s phenomenal.
Just look at him. Follow the cracks in his skin to his eyepatch and through a beard Galileo would admire. He was cool. And, today, at the well-lived age of 94, Mr O’Neill died. His legacy, however, lives on in lineups world round, in surf shops, Japanese factories and fermenting in the trunks of our cars.
Jack lived out the rest of his days at his home, perched above the sea along East Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz. The cause of his death is unknown, although, he did live longer than most people and turtles.
So, this morning, evening, whatever time of day it is that you bang the sand out of your suit and slip into neoprene, save a moment of thought for Jack. After all, in a sense, he’s been keeping you warm since you started this obsession.