Bernard Midget Farrelly | First Man (1944 – 2016)

Midget Farrelly was the ‘first man’ to win the first official surfing world championship at Sydney’s Manly Beach in 1964, and dominated the sport throughout the decade. Midget was a ‘water baby’, craftsman, leader and visionary.

He grew up and lived in paradise on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. At age 14 he made his first long board and was nicknamed Midget due to his slight build. Age 17 Midget worked alongside Joe Larkin, Bob Pike and Barry Bennett at the home of surfing design and manufacturing in Brookvale, NSW. By age 18 Dave Jackman, Mickey Mc Mahon, Denny Keough and Gordon Woods figured in Midget’s industry education and influence.

In 1965 Midget took all the wood out of his boards, relying on the thickness of glass for strength. His first ‘stringerless’ prototype was successful in winning the 1965 Australian Championships at Manly. Midget’s very light board pulled tight turns packing more performance into the small waves.

In 1967 Midget introduced a V bottom design. It was only 8 feet long by 22 inches wide and heavily veed through the tail half. The board was specifically designed to ride waves less than head high. A new era of manoeuvrability in surfing dawned.

Midget’s love affair with the sea included crafting windsurfers and hang gliders. He was heavily involved in life saving and coached female boat crews to win Australian championships.

His achievements included:

  • Being the first Australian to win a surfing title in the 1963 Hawaiian championships
  • 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.

Midget was a statesman of the surf industry and a gentleman.


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