Who created the neoprene wetsuit? That’s long been a sore point among the two entrepreneurs and a professor who each claim to be the inventor.
AT 77, Bob Meistrell leads deep-sea diving expeditions to Catalina Island and remains at the helm of Body Glove International, the multimillion-dollar Redondo Beach surf company he co-founded with his twin brother Bill half a century ago.
Jack O’Neill, 82, is a bit landlocked these days after turns as a wartime pilot, surfing legend and driving force behind Santa Cruz-based O’Neill Inc., one of the surf industry’s most recognized brands.
Age forced Hugh Bradner, an 89-year-old UC Berkeley physics professor and Manhattan Project scientist, to mothball his scuba tanks a few years ago and downshift to a quiet and modest life in La Jolla.
These three Californians share more than Social Security checks. Each claims to be the father of the neoprene wetsuit, an invention that debuted in the early 1950s and revolutionized surfing and deep-sea diving.