The Surfing World was saddened this week with the news of the passing of Bernard “Midget” Farrelly. Midget was 71, and was a true legend of the sport
He was the first Aussie World Champion and the first surfer in this country to truly become a household name and surfing identity among the broader population. He was instrumental in the development of the sport.
In 1958, Midget was living in Manly and was just 14 years old when he built his first surfboard.In 1963 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, along with Kingscliff resident and first ever Women’s World Champion Phyllis O’Donnell, and his name headlined newspapers worldwide. My first foam surfboard was a “Midget” Foamy, and he was “surfing” in the 1960’s and is responsible for the popularity of our sport today.
Farrelly friend and Surfing NSW Director Harry Hodge shared the same sentiments: “Midget had a significant influence on so many aspects of surfing; whether it was shaping, competing or travelling and he was never one to search for accolades for his contribution to the sport. He was a devout family man that has left the sport with an incredible legacy. He will be missed.”