I Knew Jack O’Neill // Peter Hamblin

About 6 months ago, I was talking with a young surf friend who was relocating to SoCal. She was job hunting and came across a job at O’Neill in Costa Mesa. We were chatting about her cover letter and I suggested that she include a little about why O’Neill was such an important brand to her specifically. She’s from the north east where even summer waters can chill a California girl to the bone.


We got into a discussion about wetsuits and at one point she asked me what this had to do with O’Neill. I was floored. I guess I took for granted that everyone knew who Jack was and was he had contributed to surfing. Maybe it’s a California thing. Maybe it’s that she’s 25 years younger and it’s a generational thing. Either way it was just wrong and I felt obliged to fill her in.


When he passed away last month, I thought of her. I was glad that she would now fully appreciate the significance of the loss and understand what an icon had passed. I hope she’ll share Jack’s story with someone else and that he won’t ever be forgotten.


Peter Hamblin put together a beautiful film to share his perspective of Jack. In his words: “If you live and love the ocean then you are sure to know Jack O’Neill. From the wetsuit that let us live the dream of first in and last out to the first ‘surf shop’ that gave us a spiritual home for our wave riding community, Jack’s mission was always to let us have fun and surf longer. O’Neill’s film, I Knew Jack O’Neill, pays homage to Jack the pioneer, Jack the maverick and above all Jack the surfer. See you out back Jack and thanks for being you.”