The World Has Lost A Great Surfer, Vale Bernard 'Midget' Farrelly

8 Aug 2016 18

Sally Mac

Coastalwatch Digital Editor

Photo by JOHN WITZIG

Photo by JOHN WITZIG

Monday 8 August, 2016
Written by Sally Mac.

This morning we have learnt of the passing of Australia's finest surfer and an incredible man, Bernard 'Midget' Farrelly. At 71 years old, Midget lived a full life bursting with achievement and prosperity as a husband, father, the first world champion surfer, innovator, businessman and true waterman. Midget was a man who spoke with a strong, passionate and dignified tone about surfing, the world, and business, but there was a slight suggestion of cheekiness behind each story, a little something implied, a lesson to be learnt. 

As a lifelong Northern Beaches resident, Midget's life revolved around what the surf was doing. Each morning he'd check the banks and waves on his way down to his surfboard and blanks warehouse in Brookvale, if something took his fancy he'd be out amongst the crowds, picking off only the best that the ocean had to offer. On the weekends as you'd approach Palm Beach at dawn, there'd be a golden silhouette cycling or skateboarding up to the north and down to the south followed by a surf, then coffee and breakfast, then another surf. Weekends were shared with his love of surfboats too, he'd be at the helm as a sweep for Whale Beach SLSC, just one of the many clubs that he worked with and transformed as a competitor and mentor. 

When Midget was in the water, the world was still and perfect. He was one of those surfers you watch that look like they have the ability to part the waves as they paddle out, and when ready, eye off a runner on the horizon, paddle out 50 metres past the lineup only to pull onto a perfect, clean peeling wave. Every time that wave would look like it was made just for him and he would glide through the face on his handmade log like a knife through butter. There was nothing more beautiful and mesmerising than watching Midget surf – whether from the lineup or the beach, it was special.

In 1958, Midget was living in Manly and was just 14 years old when he built his first surfboard, it was the beginning of what was to become an incredible journey. Five years later, he hopped a plane to Hawaii and took out the crown of the surfing championships in Makaha in front of Hawaiian surfing royalty. A year later, 19-year-old Farrelly surfed and won the world's first international championship event at Manly Beach in Sydney. He stood tall on the podium that day and his name headlined newspapers worldwide, his profile rose and so did the popularity of the sport in Australia. Midget continued competing for a number of years, in Australia and internationally while simultaneously evolving his board making and blanks business. He married the love of his life, Beverlie, and together they raised three girls on the beach and in the waves. They learnt to surf and travelled to the world's best surf breaks with their dad. 

There is so much to say about the life and times of Bernard 'Midget' Farrelly and everyone has their own special memory; he taught me to surf and the meaning of surfing, and he guided me through the world with a series of fables and truths. The way he carried himself and the way he maintained the strength and path on his journey is admirable and inspirational. I've never met anyone else like him and probably never will.  

Thank you for all that you were and all that you gave. 

Midget the lone surfer out at Palm Beach, Photo by MARK ONORATI

Midget the lone surfer out at Palm Beach, Photo by MARK ONORATI

At the helm of his mighty surfboat, The Barrenjoey, Photo by MARK ONORATI

At the helm of his mighty surfboat, The Barrenjoey, Photo by MARK ONORATI

Among his kingdom, Midget with his boards at his showroom & factory in Brookvale, Photo by MARK ONORATI

Among his kingdom, Midget with his boards at his showroom & factory in Brookvale, Photo by MARK ONORATI

To own a handcrafted Farrelly board. Photo by MARK ONORATI

To own a handcrafted Farrelly board. Photo by MARK ONORATI


Midget Farrelly, Before the Feud from ENCYCLOPEDIA of SURFING videos on Vimeo.

Tags: midget , farrelly , bernard (create Alert from these tags)

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