Jack O’Neill, who opened a humble surf shop in San Francisco in 1952 that went on to spawn one of the world’s biggest surf and watersports wear brands, has died aged 94.
O’Neill – instantly recognisable thanks to the patch he began wearing in the early 1970s after an accident with a surf leash left him blind in his left eye – is credited with creating the forerunner to the neoprene wetsuit as-we-know-it, after experimenting with the material, which was being used in the US Navy. To combat the cold off the west coast, he started sewing pieces of neoprene into vests initially, and then developed the full-length suit which O’Neill became famous for, mainly in the surfing arena but also in diving.
According to friends, O’Neill passed away peacefully at his home in Santa Cruz, California, with his family by his side.
Our gear content is sponsored by Mike’s Dive Store, the UK’s premier dive retailer. For all your diving needs visit them in-store or online for your diving, freediving, snorkelling and servicing.