Jack O'Neill prepares 60th anniversary of the wetsuit brand

October 19, 2011 | Surfing
Jack O'Neill: the wetsuit pioneer

The iconic surf pioneer Jack O'Neill is celebrating of the surf brand O'Neill with a biographical coffee table book following the journey of the man whose passion drove him to create an innovative suit that allowed surfers to be the first in the icy waters of the San Francisco Bay and the last out.

"Surfing has been forever evolving since the creation of the wetsuit. Kids now are doing things I would never imagine," says Jack. The book will serve as the kick off to O'Neill's 60th anniversary.

Some of the most respected surfers and ocean-oriented icons, including Bruce Brown, Shaun Tomson, Robby Naish, Tom Curren, Fred Van Dyke, Ken "Skindog" Collins and Jordy Smith help tell the story of "Jack O'Neill, It's Always Summer on the Inside" by illustrating the appreciation and awe of the passion of one man's vision to step up the game of surfing.

The 256-page, hardcover book written by Drew Kampion and published by Chronicle Books is already available, with a portion of sales going to Jack's own non-profit environmental education program, O'Neill Sea Odyssey.

In 1952, Jack O'Neill opened the doors to the world's first surf shop offering wetsuits, surfboards, surf wax, travel bags, and more.

Originally located in his garage, the successful O'Neill shop was relocated from his home, to San Francisco where the business began to boom, to finally Santa Cruz simply because according to Jack, "it had the best waves in California." The O'Neill Surf Shop is still located at 41st Avenue in Santa Cruz, California.

Although Jack O'Neill has been numerously named the original surf industry innovator and entrepreneur, he does not remotely consider himself a businessman at all.

"I'm just a surfer who wanted to build something that would allow me to surf longer," says O'Neill. "By having the surf shop and inventing the wetsuit, it was my job to test out my products. I loved my job. My job was to surf."

In the 1950s, the idea of being paid to surf was not an option. Currently, surfing is part of a $6.24 billion industry, according to a third party research conducted by the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA).

Starting as a garage-based surf shop and wetsuit brand, O'Neill has evolved to dominate not only with their products but also by sponsoring the world's best riders in surfing, snowboarding and wakeboarding.

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