A true pioneer and waterman, Jack O’Neill’s innovations in wetsuit technology allowed for an entire world of surfers to lengthen every session in the ocean. On Sunday, July 9th, upwards of 5,000 gathered along the cliffs of Pleasure Point to celebrate Jack’s life. The morning began with local families finding a spot along the water’s edge from the Hook all the way up past Jack’s iconic cliffside residence on 36th to First Point. Hundreds of surfers descended the steps into the ocean, making their way past the lineup and into the kelp beds. A dozen or so boats, including O’Neill’s Odyssey, surrounded the ever-growing group of attendees. The scene was incredible, with seemingly every inch of cliff, trail, and sidewalk occupied.
As the marine layer burned away, the enormous group in the ocean gathered for the largest paddle-out in Santa Cruz surfing history. Jack’s family and friends, including Shaun Tomson and PT Townend, gave touching speeches from the boat centered in the circle. With the sun shining over the coast, the immense crowd cheered and bid farewell to Santa Cruz’s legendary figure. The gathering of the Santa Cruz community, as well as the gatherings of surfers across the globe, was a true testament to how the actions of one man can change the world.