Global Memorial Paddle Out for Jack O'Neill


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Updated 139d ago

A global paddle out will take place this weekend to honour the life of Jack O'Neill.

From Santa Cruz to Cornwall, events will be held worldwide simultaneously on Sunday July 9 at 11am Pacific and 7pm in the UK.

Jack was recognisable for his eye patch and beard and is credited with creating and pioneering the first wetsuit, a pursuit he deemed a necessity so surfers could tackle the frigid waters of San Francisco Bay. The first suits were built out of unicellular foam that he bought from a local surplus store – allowing surfing to become a year round activity. Also, Jack and his son Pat are credited with creating the first surfboard leash out of a piece of surgical tubing (which, ironically enough, ended up costing him his eye and leading to the eye patch).

In a press release, a representative from O'Neill said: “The family of Jack O’Neill, O’Neill Wetsuits and O’Neill UK would like to extend a heartfelt "Thank You" to all who have reached out with thoughts, prayers, sympathy, remembrances, stories and pictures since the passing of legendary waterman Jack O’Neill on Friday 2nd June 2017.”

Paddle outs will take place in the following locations:

Sunday 9th July, 19:00 UTC+02
Plage De La Chambre D’amour, Anglet, France

Sunday 9th July, 19:00 UTC+02
Scheveningen Beach Stadion, Scheveningen, Netherlands

Sunday 9th July, 19:00 UTC+02
Surfers Paradise, Knokke-Heist, Belgium

Sunday 9th July, 19:00
Great Western Beach, Newquay, Cornwall, England

Sunday 9th July, 19:00
Thurso, Caithness, Scotland

Sunday 9th July, 11:00 PDT
Cox Bay, Tofino, BC, Canada

Sunday 9th July, 11:00 PDT
Pleasure Point, Santa Cruz, California

Monday 10th July, 8:00 UTC+10
Freshwater Beach, Manly, NSW, Australia

South Africa
Monday 10th July, 9:00 UTC+02
Point Beach Jeffrey’s Bay, Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa

Jack died from natural causes on June 2, surrounded by his family in Santa Cruz, at the age of 94.

Born in Denver, Colorado Jack moved with his family to Long Beach, California. He acquired a love for the beach early in his youth in Southern California. He attended the University of Portland in Oregon, where he received a degree in business.

Following service in the US Navy during World War II, Jack married Marjorie Bennett and they moved in the early 1950s to Ocean Beach in San Francisco, California. Jack immediately began experimenting on his kitchen table with various materials designed to protect against the frigid ocean water in Northern California. He said, “I just wanted to surf longer.”

He moved with his family down to Santa Cruz and opened a surf shop there and began making boards and promoting surf movies.

For his proudest achievement, in 1996 Jack established O’Neill Sea Odyssey (OSO), a marine and environmental education program using his personal Team O’Neill catamaran, taking over 30 children at a time into the newly designated Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, along with the dedication of a coast-side classroom and laboratory building in the Santa Cruz Harbor, which he built in 1965. Jack played an instrumental role in the development of the harbour.

Now more than 20-years-old, the O’Neill Sea Odyssey program is one of the largest of its kind in the world, having hosted nearly 100,000 school-aged children. Remarking on OSO, Jack said, “The ocean is alive and we’ve got to take care of it. There’s no doubt in my mind that the O’Neill Sea Odyssey is the best thing I’ve ever done.”

Jack has left behind many dear friends and was predeceased by wife Marjorie in 1972, and son Mike in 2012, and is survived by his wife Noriko, daughters Cathi, Bridget and Shawne, sons Pat, Tim (Lisa) and Jack Jr., and grandchildren Uma, Riley, Connor, Bridget, Phoenix and Kodiak.