Jack O’Neill - Global Memorial Paddle Out

Jack O’Neill - Global Memorial Paddle Out

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Published 13 July 2017

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Jack O’Neill, surfer, ocean lover, wetsuit pioneer, boating enthusiast, and founder of the iconic surf company O’Neill, recently passed away in Santa Cruz, California, of natural causes at the age of 94. Through the invention of the wetsuit and his passion, the legendary waterman changed the face of surfing forever.

In celebration of the life of Jack O’Neill, his company O’Neill invited watermen all over the globe to join collective paddle-outs on Sunday, 9th of July 2017, simultaneously at 11 AM PST (8 PM CEST). They were hold at Pleasure Point, Santa Cruz, California (USA), Great Western Beach, Newquay, Cornwall (GBR), Cox Bay, Tofino, Vancouver Island (CAN), J-Bay (RSA), Anglet, Biarritz (FRA), Freshwater Beach, Sydney (AUS), Scheveningen (NED) and Surfer Paradise Knokke-Heist (BEL).

As the clouds parted and the fog lifted in Santa Cruz, a huge crowd of surfers gathered at Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz next to Jack O’Neill’s house to form the biggest memorial celebration the surfing world has seen to date. Over 2500 people joined the celebration on surfboards and in boats in the water and lining the cliff. With the O’Neill family on Jack’s legendary sailing yacht in the center of the circle, former world champion and close friend of the O’Neill family Shaun Tomson honoured Jack as one the pioneers and founders of the surfing industry. "For all of us floating out here, some of the best moments of our lives have been spent in the water – waiting under the great dome of sky and catching that perfect wave that has taken us to where we need to be," said Tomson.

The impressive ring of surfboards drifting on the horizon attracted crowds of spectators who lined the cliffs and beach below. The moving display symbolised the life of a fellow surfer whose sheer passion changed the face of surfing forever. After paying their respects, surfers paddled back to the shore yet some remained in the water catching waves in memory of Jack.

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