Now these may just look like normal t-shirts to you, however there is an individual story behind each one, the O’Neill Heritage T-Shirt Collection by Jack O’Neill. Back in the fifties O’Neill started up as a small surf shop. Now it’s thriving more than ever and ready to include you in the journey; inside each t-shirt is the story behind the picture on the front of the t-shirt! Welcome to the world of Jack O’Neill……
O’Neill Heritage T-Shirts
The 1950’s t-shirt features a picture of the Surf Shop which was located behind the fence, indicated by the large piece of driftwood written on by Jack and his surfer friends. This is one of the earliest photographs of the surf shop when it first opened in 1952.
The 60’s t-shirt is made from a collection of photographs from the O’Neill Heritage archive. This particular collage of photos is called ‘First Name in the Water’ and is inspired by the old surf movie posters.
Last week I had the opportunity to go to an O’Neill wetsuit training day, where I got to learn more about their wetsuits and what sets O’Neill apart from other wetsuit companies. Not only did I learn how each suit is made, and why they are made this way, I got the chance to try a Women’s F.U.Z.E. SuperFreak 3mm 2mm wetsuit for myself while attempting to kneeboard and wakeboard at a cable park. And, the proof really was in the pudding.
I really liked this wetsuit! The training day was held at a cable park, on a typically English day – grey and cold. So, I was a bit nervous about the whole thing. I wakeboard behind a boat here at Tallington Lakes, and I usually spend a lot of time in the water, so with never being on a cable I knew I would spend more time in the water than not. After learning about how the suits are made, I know I shouldn’t have been surprised by how warm I was. But, I was. I was even more surprised by the fact I was warmer wearing the wetsuit in the water, than I was wearing my clothes out of it!
O’Neill Women’s F.U.Z.E. SuperFreak 3mm 2mm
The SuperFreak wetsuit is made with a super stretchy UltraFlex DS Neoprene, and stuck together with O’Neill’s glued and blindstitched (GBS) seam construction. The stretchy neoprene means you have unrestricted movement; and because the GBS stitching only goes part way through the neoprene, and is then glued, there is minimal leakage. O’Neill also place additional tape in all areas of excessive stress too, just to make sure! The suit has been designed with ‘seamless paddle zones’ which means that areas such as under the arm are constructed out of one panel. Consequently there are no seams to hinder movement (when paddling) and eliminates rashing; which in my case was a real bonus when I kept falling and having to swim to the lake side… And, I can see how great this would be when surfing or swimming for extended times.
The SuperFreak has yet another one of O’Neill’s tricks, the F.U.Z.E Entry System. F.U.Z.E stands for Front Upper Zip Entry, which basically means what you think; you get into the wetsuit from an opening in the chest. I was pretty intimidated by the concept, but once I tried it, I actually found it easier to get into than the usual back zipped wetsuits. F.U.Z.E follows the same concept of the Patented Z.E.N Zip Entry, where the zip system is added to the suit separately, having the main body of the suit constructed in a way that keeps as much water out as possible.
A few other treats included with this suit are the Krypto Knee Pads, a double Super Seal Neck and a neat little external key pocket on the thigh! The SuperFreak keeps the water out and keeps you warm like no other wetsuit ever offered at this price level. And, I can 100% recommend this, and any of the women’s O’Neill wetsuit, if you are after something comfortable, warm and flexible for these spring and summer months ahead!
Surfing in Scotland. Tallington Lakes Pro Shop kindly armed me with an O’Neill Psycho 3 wetsuit for the trip and I was keen to push it to its limits in the cold seas that surround Scotland.
On the Wednesday and Thursday there was a large swell on the east coast so we decided they would be the best days to head to the surf. We travelled towards Aberdeen and made our way south finally jumping in at Lunan Bay. This was a great reintroduction to Scottish surfing; it is a wild and rugged country and the seas around it seem to reflect that. The surf on the east coast were generally messy but it was great to get some water time before we headed to the reefs and slabs of the north.
From the Cairngorms we made our way along the coast to Inverness and then started the long drive to the northern tip of Caithness. The surfing in this area in my opinion is world class. It offers a huge variety of waves from long mellow points to thick heavy slabs. Having already done two trips to this region we also explored further west into Sutherland and again found plenty of empty line ups to keep us entertained.
To say the trip was ideal testing conditions for a winter wetsuit would be an understatement. The weather is constantly changing with rain and gale force winds. The water temperature despite being relatively friendly in October compared to deepest darkest January is certainly cold enough to put this O’Neill wetsuit through its paces.
The first thing you notice about the O’Neill Psycho 3 wetsuit is how light it is. The new TechnoButter technology, which is a honeycomb neoprene, means that the suit is not dense and has a light foamy texture. The weight of the suit is actually comparable to a 3mm/2mm summer suit when dry. As I got changed I noticed that the suit is extremely flexible; however it is worth noting that with this flexibility you have to be careful when putting the suit on because it feels like you could easily over stretch it or tear it if you pulled too hard.
The seams and seals on the suit are extremely impressive and even through some pretty heavy wipe outs I didn’t find that the suit flushed. The majority of the waves we surfed were over granite slabs and plenty of times you find yourself being dragged along the bottom. Fortunately the suit never split or tore in this situation. Obviously there is a certain degree of luck in the way you fall; but plenty of people did tear their suits on the reef. So I would conclude that the TechnoButter neoprene is tough as well as light.
Actually surfing in the 5mm wetsuit was pleasurable, as surfing can be in such a thick suit. I found due to the flexibility and lightness of the wetsuit, I didn’t tire as quickly paddling as I have in previous suits, and was able to surf for the best part of 5-6 hours most days. These benefits also extend to your ‘pop up’ and surfing; and you feel incredibly nimble for being in such a thick suit.
Overall I would highly recommend the O’Neill Psycho 3 because it made surfing, in Autumn, in Scotland an easy task and handled the conditions better than the suits I have worn on the previous two trips. However I would advise if you purchase this suit to treat it with care, similarly to most top end suits you are paying for flexibility but with this they can easily be pulled or stretched. So always hang the suit from the waist on a hanger and always take some thing to change on, especially in gravel car parks, as it would be a shame to ruin suit before you even got in the water.
Note: O’Neill discontinued the Psycho 3 for winter 15/16 and replaced it with the Psycho Freak ZEN and Psycho Freak FUZE wetsuits. They are the same suit just different ways to climb in! The wetsuit technology is almost 100% the same as the Psycho 3 but O’Neill have extended the ‘fire wall’ inside the suit all the way to the bottom of the legs – toasty!
If, like me, you open water swim to keep fit; it can be difficult to justify purchasing an open water/triathlon specific wetsuit. They are specifically designed for the competitive swimmer or triathlete with long distances swimming in-mind. Consequently they are not as hard wearing as a traditional wetsuit, and therefore not really suitable for anything else.
I wanted a wetsuit I could use for open water swimming, and the odd surfing holiday off the Cornish coast (and more), so I jumped in at the chance to try the O’Neill Hyperfreak full wetsuit. I knew it would be good for surfing etc, but would it be good for open water swimming because I have entered Swim Rutland in August?
The main features of the wetsuit are:
Glued and blind stitch seam construction
Contortionist seamless shoulder
FUZE entry system
I will not go into the technical details of O’Neill’s TechnoButter neoprene, I shall leave that to the boffins at O’Neill, but importantly its lighter and super stretchy than the normal neoprene. The glued and blind stitch seams complement the TechnoButter and with the seamless shoulder design contributed to a well fitting wetsuit with plenty of movement; which did not hinder my swim stroke.
The neoprene thickness is 3mm and 2mm, which gave me enough buoyancy, that I felt confident in the water; and even though I need to work on my swim technique, I had a good swim.
The FUZE entry system isn’t as easy as a back zip; but it does make a good seal, so I had no ‘flushing’ of the wetsuit, keeping me comfortably warm. However if you do elect to enter a triathlon this wetsuit will add time to your transition – however I’d see that as a much needed rest!
So, if like me, you want a multi-disciplined wetsuit; then take a look at the O’Neill Hyperfreak FUZE 3mm 2mm Full Wetsuit and you will have a wetsuit for all occasions, including open water swimming, when the water temperature is a little chilly.