Jack O’Neill founded the surf brand, O’Neill, in order to “produce functional and innovative board riding products” in 1952, according to the brand.
The brand also boosts to having the “world’s first stitchless boardshorts” with O’Neill “pioneering the first neoprene surfing wetsuit” with Jack himself “opening up [his] garage doors to his first surf shop in Santa Cruz.”
The entrepreneur spirt, the love of the ocean and nature itself is what drew us to this story.
At 92, O’Neill is no longer surfing the waves, but he certainly has had a love affair with the ocean.
Flashback to the 1940s…
Knowing the waters in Santa Cruz were quite chilly, Jack wanted to find something that would be more suitable to the waves than wool, which as the SF Gate pointed out, many surfers were wearing.
“It started out with some uni-sided foam,” commented O’Neill to the SF Gate.
“I knew from my physics classes that air was a good insulator. It worked good, except it didn’t have tensile strength, so I had to take it and put plastic on the outside.”
O’Neill then got a break in 1952, when he got introduced to an elastic compound originally developed by DuPont in 1930.
“He [Jack’s pharmacist friend, Harry Hind] saw what I was trying to do with the plastic foam, and he says, ‘Hey, try this neoprene.’ He had used it in his lab. It really worked well.”
As they say, the rest is history…
Well, not quite!
Be sure to read the full story at the SF Gate.
And, next time you go surfing, be sure to thank Jack – whether you use a wetsuit or not.