Revisiting Jack O'Neill's Memorial Paddle Out


One year has passed since Jack O'Neill's Memorial Paddle Out.  Last year, on July 9th 2017, thousands of people gathered along the bluffs at Pleasure Point while thousands more took to the water by surfboard, boat, outrigger, paddle board or kayak.  An enormous ring formed as sea farers grasped one another's hands and their legs dangled in the dense kelp forest in front of Captain O'Neill's beloved home at Pleasure Point.  The ring encompassed his traditional sailing schooner, the Marie Celine, and the prestigious 65' Team O'Neill catamaran that has sailed nearly 100,000 students for the O'Neill Sea Odyssey program.  If we could get a view from below the kelp beds, imagine what a sight!

On this day we gathered to celebrate the legacy of one man and there was a great feeling of joy and exuberance.  O'Neill's first pro surfer, South Africa’s Shaun Tomson, delivered a poignant eulogy, “Jack built his life on passion and purpose. Passion for surf and a purpose to love and to be loved. Jack succeeded in creating a blood family (his children) and a water family. And his purpose was to make us laugh and to create O’Neill Sea Odyssey, and introduce young people to the ocean, and transform thousands of lives. So he was a guy that gave back more than he received.” 

Next time you pull that wetsuit on before your surf session or you visit the beach, remember that feeling of community and the power of love that we shared that day.  Catch a wave, share a wave, be stoked to be in the ocean!   


Nikki Brooks