Jack O’Neill has passed away at the age of 94. In a statement, his family said he died of natural causes at his home in Santa Cruz, California.
This former Navy pilot was looking to keep warm while surfing in cold waters, and his experiments led to the invention of the wetsuit. In 1952, he founded the popular Californian surf brand, O’Neill. Known for his cool attitude and distinctive eye-patch (he lost his eye in a surfing accident), this legend’s hard work revolutionised surfing and watersports.
As well as being an avid surfer and successful businessman, he was passionate about the marine environment and to that end, sought to teach people about the ocean. He notably set up the O’Neill Sea Odyssey in 1996, an environmental educational programme for children.
Inkl quotes O’Neill as stating this programme was his proudest achievement: “The ocean is alive and we’ve got to take care of it… There is no doubt in my mind that the O’Neil Sea Odyssey is the best thing I’ve ever done.”