Midget Farrelly dead at 71: Tributes flow for surfer
PINT-SIZED Australian surfing surfing champion Bernard Farrelly, who was known as 'Midget', has died aged 71.
Farrelly won the first official surfing world championship at Sydney's Manly Beach in 1964.
Farelly, who was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985, had a long list of achievements, including:
- winning the 1965 Australian surfing title
- sixth place at the 1966 world championship
- winning the 1966 Peruvian International Small Waves competition
- winning the 1968 Bobby Brown memorial
- second place at the 1968 world championship
Born in Sydney, Farrelly was the the son of a taxi driver, and spent the first nine years of his life living in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
He began surfing at age six, on an 18-foot hollow plywood paddleboard, and from 1962 to 1970 he was arguably the best competitive surfer in the world, according to the Encyclopediaofsurfing.com
Cannot even think of our local beach without Midget Farrelly. He bought his own surfboat, with an all-woman crew 1/2 pic.twitter.com/LOFAzb7MKg— Mike Carlton (@MikeCarlton01) August 7, 2016
He rode in a bowlegged stance, and as Australia's Surfing Life magazine would later describe it, was already possessed of "superhuman elegance."
Farrelly was instrumental in the formation of the Australian Surfriders Association, and in 1964 helped launch the International Surfing Federation, to oversee subsequent World Championship events.
"Surfing with Midget Farrelly," his Sydney Morning-Herald column, was reprinted in newspapers across the country, and
he was featured in a national ad campaign for Philishave electric razors.
Farrelly appeared in more than a dozen surf movies including Cavalcade of Surf (1962), Midget Goes Hawaiian (1963), The Young Wave Hunters (1964), To Ride a White Horse (1968), and Pacific Vibrations (1970).
He was Australia's top vote-getter in International Surfing Magazine's 1966 Hall of Fame Awards. The Midget Farrelly Surf Show, a 10-part series made by ABC in Australia, aired in 1967; How to Surf, his second book, was published in 1968.
Farrelly was inducted, along with Nat Young, into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame in 1986; in 2007 he was inducted into the Surfing Walk of Fame in Huntington Beach.
In 1999, Farrelly agreed to participate in a novelty contest featuring the five surviving finalists from the 1964 World Championships. He placed first.
"Farrelly was arguably the most successful competitor in the world during the '60s," his online Hall of Fame entry says.
"Though always dedicated to the sport, he later became embroiled in a series of disagreements with Australian officials and was banned from entering the 1969 Australian title."
Farrelly also built surf boards, making his first one in 1958 at the age of 14, and later establishing a board business at Brookvale on Sydney's northern beaches.