Surfing’s 1st world champion passed away at 71


Bernard “Midget” Farrelly, who won surfing’s first world championship and was a pioneering surfboard designer, has died aged 71. Farrelly became the first Australian to win a major surfing title when he won the Makaha Invitational in Hawaii in 1963. He won the first official world championship off Sydney’s Manly beach the following year and was world championship runner-up in 1968 and 1970.

  • Surfing Australia said Farrelly, known as Midget for his diminutive stature — he stood 170cm (5’8″) and weighed 66kg (140lbs) — was Australia’s first surfing superstar.
  • He was a supreme stylist who “possessed an elegance and positioning superior to other surfers of his time.”Farrelly’s success boosted surfboard sales in Australia and he became an influential designer of short boards.
  • Having designed his first surfboard when he was 14, he became an influential designer of short boards and eventually opened up his own business in the trade.
  • He was inducted into the surfing walk of fame at California’s Huntington beach in 2007.


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