Tag Archives: O’neill

History of the Wetsuit: "I just wanted to be warm"

Yesterday the water here in Southern California dropped a full ten degrees overnight. It went from a bathing suit 66 to a freezing, it-hurts 56 degrees.

According to the lifeguards this is due to the last big-wave swell. It came in with a strong wind and in a few days had blown away the top cover of the ocean, revealing the cold depths.

It was pretty crazy, though, because the cold switch happened overnight. Yesterday it was warm and this morning it was freezing.

56 is so col that not a single person was in the water. Yet the temperature change happened so fast that people were still walking up in boardshorts ready to go out.

I went out and immediately left the water. It hurt!

A few hours later I returned with my winter booties and full wetsuit. This left only my hands and head exposed and I was able to stay out surfing for a long time.

Occasionally, others would join me, then after 10 minutes retreat back to the shore.

This prompted me to learn about the history of the wetsuit and my first search revealed..

 Jack O’Neill

You owe "The Cheese" a debt of gratitude. By developing the wetsuit, he allowed you to surf around the calendar and around the globe. His little shop in San Francisco is now a multimillion-dollar empire, but that wasn't why Jack O'Neill began. He just wanted to stay warm. "I'm just as surprised by this as anyone," O'Neill says. "I was just messing around with rubber."

full bio

History of the wetsuit

Before the wetsuit:

Surfers prepped for the frigid seas with frantic, almost tribal dances around beach fires, some taking to the water in wool sweaters (occasionally soaked in oil) and/or clunky, immobilizing scuba suits — anything to stave off impending numbness. Waveriding was commonly conservative; the rational being that not falling and thus staying dry was paramount to get radical. Enter Jack O’Neill, an inventive San Franciscan and window salesman by trade whose unwillingness to freeze his nuts off would revolutionize watergoing.

Following numerous aborted stabs at a functional, mobile suit, a bodysurfing friend who was working at a Bay Area pharmaceutical lab introduced O’Neill to a peculiar new rubber-like substance: neoprene. O’Neill quickly ordered heaps of the stuff, began hand sewing it together and, in 1952, started up San Francisco’s first surf shop along its Great Highway. Sales were brisker than the afternoon onshore winds that churned Ocean Beach. Later, he took to the road to market his invention, setting up ice-filled tanks in which he’d submerse his kids for hours to get the point across. Onlookers were stunned and overnight surfing became a year-round affair. O’Neill later moved his headquarters south to Santa Cruz, where both remain today.

full history

Back to O’Neill

Today, surfing is big business and the wetsuit industry is filled with competitors. Sometimes it’s hard to know what is good, but the O’Neill brand still stands for quality and is available in all the surf shops.

Which is pretty cool, a family company, the inventor of the wetsuit is still involved and still making the best. I think for my next wetsuit I will buy an O’Neill.

If you’re interested in learning more check out the cool website, or watch the video.

History of the Wetsuit: “I just wanted to be warm”

Yesterday the water here in Southern California dropped a full ten degrees overnight. It went from a bathing suit 66 to a freezing, it-hurts 56 degrees.

According to the lifeguards this is due to the last big-wave swell. It came in with a strong wind and in a few days had blown away the top cover of the ocean, revealing the cold depths.

It was pretty crazy, though, because the cold switch happened overnight. Yesterday it was warm and this morning it was freezing.

56 is so col that not a single person was in the water. Yet the temperature change happened so fast that people were still walking up in boardshorts ready to go out.

I went out and immediately left the water. It hurt!

A few hours later I returned with my winter booties and full wetsuit. This left only my hands and head exposed and I was able to stay out surfing for a long time.

Occasionally, others would join me, then after 10 minutes retreat back to the shore.

This prompted me to learn about the history of the wetsuit and my first search revealed..

 Jack O’Neill

You owe "The Cheese" a debt of gratitude. By developing the wetsuit, he allowed you to surf around the calendar and around the globe. His little shop in San Francisco is now a multimillion-dollar empire, but that wasn't why Jack O'Neill began. He just wanted to stay warm. "I'm just as surprised by this as anyone," O'Neill says. "I was just messing around with rubber."

full bio

History of the wetsuit

Before the wetsuit:

Surfers prepped for the frigid seas with frantic, almost tribal dances around beach fires, some taking to the water in wool sweaters (occasionally soaked in oil) and/or clunky, immobilizing scuba suits — anything to stave off impending numbness. Waveriding was commonly conservative; the rational being that not falling and thus staying dry was paramount to get radical. Enter Jack O’Neill, an inventive San Franciscan and window salesman by trade whose unwillingness to freeze his nuts off would revolutionize watergoing.

Following numerous aborted stabs at a functional, mobile suit, a bodysurfing friend who was working at a Bay Area pharmaceutical lab introduced O’Neill to a peculiar new rubber-like substance: neoprene. O’Neill quickly ordered heaps of the stuff, began hand sewing it together and, in 1952, started up San Francisco’s first surf shop along its Great Highway. Sales were brisker than the afternoon onshore winds that churned Ocean Beach. Later, he took to the road to market his invention, setting up ice-filled tanks in which he’d submerse his kids for hours to get the point across. Onlookers were stunned and overnight surfing became a year-round affair. O’Neill later moved his headquarters south to Santa Cruz, where both remain today.

full history

Back to O’Neill

Today, surfing is big business and the wetsuit industry is filled with competitors. Sometimes it’s hard to know what is good, but the O’Neill brand still stands for quality and is available in all the surf shops.

Which is pretty cool, a family company, the inventor of the wetsuit is still involved and still making the best. I think for my next wetsuit I will buy an O’Neill.

If you’re interested in learning more check out the cool website, or watch the video.

DC Art and Inspiration

Yesterday, I purchased the first piece of art that will belong to the “1×57 collection” – art dedicated to the precepts of 1×57: innovation, inspiration and social value creation. It’s a whimsical creation by Maggie O’Neill, who I consider one of the most talented artists in the DC area. I discovered her through, wait for it, Facebook. She’s a friend of friends and as soon as I saw her work, I friended her. I quickly discovered she’s the mastermind of some of the most stylishly decorated and designed restaurants in DC, from Oya to SEI to the soon-to-be opened Lincoln.

Steve and I made a visit to her studio in Kensington, MD and Maggie’s talent is unmistakeable. She paints and creates with such a vision for life, light, color and texture, it was easy to fall in love with the painting that’s now hanging over our office work table. It’s a rendering of the Capitol building and when I look at it, I see the ideals and energy of liberty, of people and values as varied, mixed and diverse as a painter’s color palette, but with an overlaying foundation of democracy that unites and elevates us all. There’s also a fun secret hidden within the painting which compelled me to name the piece, “The Cover-up.”

Capitol Cover-up

More important than it’s pure aesthetic appeal, the piece is reminder of my most favorite period of art history, the shift from a formal, non-secular, constrained style of painting (the Renaissance, Baroque, and Neoclassical periods) to Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and Expressionism, which completely turned the world on it’s head. When the group of artists now known as Impressionists came onto the Paris art scene, they were viewed as seditious, crude and a threat to the very existence of traditional art.

A fraction of the group were deemed “Intrasigents” – an expression that borrowed it’s name from the radical political party that attempted to overthrow the constitutional monarchy in Spain. Now these revolutionaries – Monet, Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh, Picasso – are known as some of the most talented, revered and brilliant artists in the world.

So a big thanks to Maggie for making DC such a beautiful place to live and a bigger thanks to all the artists, creators and visionaries of the world for challenging the status quo and inspiring the unimaginable.