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O’Neill Surf Shop site designated Point of Historical Interest in Santa Cruz

The site of the original, 500-square-foot 1959 Santa Cruz O’Neill Surf Shop, next to Dream Inn near the entrance to Cowell Beach was approved as a Point of Historical Interest earlier in the month by the California State Historical Resources Commission and became official on Monday.

Santa Cruz City Councilmember David Terrazas spearheaded an effort to obtain the designation.

“The O’Neill story is uniquely Santa Cruz and representative of California’s innovative spirit and culture throughout the world,” Terrazas said. “Jack and his family are integral to our town and have built something really special here.”

Jack O’Neill  is credited with creating the first successful wetsuit, which opened up year-round surfing to millions of surfers worldwide and made Santa Cruz the birthplace of modern cold-water surfing. O’Neill is one of the best-selling wetsuit brands in the world and one of the top sportswear brands. The O’Neill company has distributorships and licensees in over 67 countries.

Jack O’Neill also founded O’Neill Sea Odyssey, a nonprofit that has taught over 65,000 students about ocean science and ecology while sailing Monterey Bay. O’Neill is honored by the recognition of the surf shop as a Point of Historical Interest.

O’Neill lives on the ocean side of East Cliff, at Pleasure Point, another world-class surf break in Santa Cruz.

“What started out as a way to catch as many waves as possible has turned into a life I could not have even dreamed up,” O’Neill said. “I am grateful to all of you who have supported us along the way from our roots through 60 years.

“I am thrilled with the fact that life has given me the opportunity to start the O’Neill Sea Odyssey, a very effective program that brings awareness of the invaluable oceans to the next generation. Follow your bliss!”

It’s very hard to argue with THAT! :-)

-Bill at

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