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Surfers Celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Wetsuit

The Orange County Register announces the 60th anniversary of the Wetsuit. Surfers everywhere remember or try to imagine a time before wetsuits were around to keep them warm in the water.


Huntington Beach, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 01/22/2013 -- Surfers weren't always kept warm by wetsuits. As the anniversary of the Wetsuit hits its 60 year mark, Jack O'Neill remembers a time when Northern California waters were too cold to stay in for too long. Surfers use to have only one hour sessions, before being forced to paddle back in, appendages numb from the frigid temperatures. It didn't matter how great a swell was, even the most experienced surfer just couldn't take it. O'Neill told the Orange County Register, after leaving the ocean, he and his friends would burn old car tires on the beach just to get warm.

Upon inventing the first wetsuit, which was a short-sleeved neoprene vest, O'Neill says, “I was just looking for ways to keep warm.” His idea was to provide a way for surfers to extend their time to surf without getting cold. No one believed he would be successful, but one day he was. In 1952 Jack O'Neill opened the first surf shop out of San Francisco, California where he built and sold surfboards. Jack's brand, O'Neill, would later become one of the largest surf companies in the world selling everything from surfboards and wetsuits to bikinis, boardshorts, rash guards, beach dresses and more.

O'Neill would go on to design the various types of wetsuits surfers know and love today including the beavertail jacket, long johns, spring suit and more. News of his creation of the wetsuit quickly traveled down the coast of California and surfers from all over the world started contacting O'Neill for one of his latest designs. With the creation of the wetsuit, O'Neill created an industry for the sport that continues to prominently thrive today. Surfing now has an online following, movies, shows, clothing, and more.