Bernard Farrelly - A Community Tribute
Bernard Farrelly – A Tribute
Reams have been written this week about a gentleman with backbone, a backbone that would only bend when he was surfing, skateboarding, sweeping a surfboat, windsurfing, paddleboarding, surf-ski racing but perhaps not so much when he was hang-gliding.
Why known for backbone?: when smoking marijuana smoking became synonymous with surfing by 1969, a sport which is about immersing yourself in pure elements by being a pure element yourself, he spoke out:
“Does the beach take dope, do the waves take dope, do the sea gulls take dope?” Mr. Farrelly wrote “Man, if you’re part of that scene, you won’t, either.”
He wasn't alone in this stance. It was preceded in 1964 by a belief that the emerging 'surfie' loafers would be replaced or that surfing itself would return to those who were about surfing, as stated in a Four Corners interview, and echoed by his fellow purists that same year.
Why backbone II: when grubby fingers started infiltrating a sport dedicated to and founded in altruism, he stood up against this too:
“Midget Farrelly created Surfblanks Australia in order to break a local monopoly that was strangling the surfboard industry by offering unlimited credit (on blanks and materials) while at the same time competing against its customers by retailing finished surfboards at wholesale prices.
Midget's first passion was surfboard making (from age 14) but he recognised the reality of having to become a foam maker in 1968 as he watched long established brands go out of the industry with huge blank and material bills they could not support.
Surfboard makers are creative people. Their product is more like art than consumer product. They inspire other surfers with new design, shape and colour. Their joy comes from what they make with their hands. Being business minded is near to last on their priority list.
To this day Midget encourages shapers/makers to avoid debt (blanks and materials), look at their bottom line and be profitable so that they might stay in the industry they love.”
Retrieved from: www.surfblanksaustralia.com/about-us/our-business/why
Above: Midget at Palm Beach SLSC Fundraiser, January 2016.
While high praise for his prowess in all these sports he loved has filled columns for decades, he was a family man first and foremost, husband to a gentlewoman for over 60 years, hero to three girls, grandfather to six and a brother to a sister too.
It is these people who have lost their darling.
Top surfer married
SYDNEY, Sunday (AUP). - Australian surfing champion Bernard (Midget) Farrelly, and the girl he married yesterday in a quiet beach-side wedding, have left on a two-week honeymoon to Queensland. His bride was formerly Beverly Carter, 20, eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs John Carter, of Avalon. Top surfer married (1966, March 14 - Monday). The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995), , p. 7. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article105891533
N.B.: ‘Beverlie’, is the way the lady spells her name.
Right: Always side by side - here on the sand at 2012 Sir Adrian Curlewis Twilight Carnival
Mr. Farrelly didn’t like or trust the media, small snippets, tiny glimpses in are all that were offered since he was put offside by those who perpetuated a means to their own ends many decades ago.
Mr. Farrelly loved community though, he stood up for Barrenjoey among the rest of us, stood up when surfing right up until taking off for other waves, stood up among the boaties on beaches when battling that horrendous scourge so many families battle against privately for years, like the rest of us.
He stood up and still stands tall.
Among all the ‘published’ voices heard this week it is a few Tributes from his community, those he stood among, placed on record here. There are thousands offering condolences and memories both locally and from communities around Australia connected to ours through his love for surfing and surf life saving sports. These make it clear this community has lost a treasured member, a southern version of their own North Star.
We’re enraged off the damned c has taken another, weep for his family and wish to give them peace, space and time to heal in even while wanting to hold them closer, and bloody annoyed again in knowing we won’t see his waves in boat or on board this Summer, in between taking it easy on our shores.
Dee Why Surfing Fraternity, where Mr. Farrelly was first president in 1961, also the year he was the junior champion of Sydney's surfriders and already shaping boards and probably at work when this photo shoot took place, held a paddle out in memory of Midget which took place on Saturday August 13, 2016.
"There are really no words to describe how amazing this moment was. With just over 120 people in a circle sharing some amazing words of a true champion/gentlemen of our sport and our club!
Thank you to everyone who attended. Midget will forever be remembered and his legacy will live on through our club! "- Dee Why Surfing Fraternity
"Great to be a part of Midgets farewell at Dee Why today, big thank you to the Dee Why Surfing Fraternity for hosting us. Massive props to Nick Carroll whose words today were magic and made it clear that Midget Farrelly is Australia's answer to Duke Kahanamoku and quite possibly the most accomplished waterman of all. He had mastered so many different types of ocean craft and been dedicated to the sea for such a long time that he is quite simply the king of our tribe. Thank you Midget, you are my inspiration." - Barton Lynch
These proponents of early surfing first appear in The Australian Women's Weekly in Spring 1961 in a series of photographs taken by Ron Perrott and explained by Kerry Yates, who would go on to write more on the subjects, in a Feature called 'Down the Mine':
Bernard "The Midget" Farrelly doing a perfect "quasimoto."
Ron Perrott, of Harbord, took the pictures on this page and the one at the foot of the opposite page. "DOWN THE MINE" ON SURFBOARDS (1961, September 20). The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), , p. 4 (Teenagers' Weekly). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article47249167
N.B.: Please visit the Dee Why Surfing Fraternity’s History page – wonderful insights here: www.dysf.com.au/1960.
This would be Mr. Farrelly (kneeling in center) and some of those mentioned in the above Dee Why Surfing Fraternity History:
THE AUSTRALIAN WOMEN'S WEEKLY Presents Teenagers WEEKLY
August 22, 1962 - Supplement to The Australian Women s Weekly - Not to be sold separately
AUSTRALIAN WINS INTERNATIONAL SURFBOARD CHAMPIONSHIP IN PERU -story page 3 Teenagers' (1962, August 22). The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), , p. 1 (Teenagers Weekly). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article41860039
Our cover boys are some of the surfboard riders who competed at Narrabeen, one of Sydney's northern beaches, during the rally organised by the South Pacific Surf Riders Club last season. No title (1962, August 22). The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), , p. 3 (Teenagers Weekly). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article41860059
From that 'Australian Wins International Championship in Peru' story on page 3.
International surf champ By Kerry Yates
Photo: BOB PIKE riding one of the great Hawaiian waves during last summer's international championships. Photo: Below, holding the bronze seagull trophy he won in the Peruvian Championship while John Severson is presented with his cup for second place.
Wherever the surf is running best - anywhere on the coast between Surfers' Paradise, Queensland, and Torquay, Victoria - there you'll find Bob Pike. Enjoying the sun, sand, and salty spray, he's also training hard, for in a few months he plans to be off again to South America to defend his title of Surfboard Riding Champion of Peru.
BOB, now 22, won the championship last March in competition with the best from Hawaii, California, France, and Peru, and he made such a hit with the people of Lima that they asked him to come back next March - all expenses paid. An old boy of The King's School, Sydney, Bob's home is at Manly, just north of Sydney Heads.
The first Australian to win a surf championship overseas, he was a member of the 20 strong Australian team which competed in the International Surfing Championships at Makaha Beach, Hawaii, last summer. Because he injured a leg he had to drop out before the finals. Several members of the team qualified, but had to return home before the finals, delayed by lack of a suitable surf, were held.
Bob, however, got a lucky break soon after the Hawaiian championships were over. John Severson, a champion Californian rider who was visiting Hawaii for the surfing titles, offered Bob a trip to Peru.
The editor of the American magazine "The Surfer," John won all the board-riding events in last year's Peruvian championships and, before he left, the organisers asked him to arrange for Australian, Hawaiian, and Californian riders to compete in their 1962 championships. John chose Bob and a Sydney friend, Mike Hickey, of Bilgola (another northern Sydney beach), to represent Australia....
It was all a great surprise to Bob, "I didn't even know they surfed in Peru, but what a way to find out!" he said....
For winning the international exhibition board-riding event, Bob was awarded a bronze carving of two seagulls mounted on a marble base. The trophy weighs 36lb. and is valued at £150. Bob said that all the visiting surfers received "royal" treatment.
Servants employed by the Waikiki Surf Club took charge of their surfboards, rubbed them down with paraffin wax, carried them to the water's edge, and even waited to carry them back after Bob and the other boys had finishing riding....
After leaving school at 15, Bob did a two-year course at Sydney Technical College to become a qualified woolclasser. He worked in shearing sheds in N.S.W. and Queensland to save the £600 for the trip to Hawaii. During that time he visited every surf beach in the eastern States.
"Fairy Bower, about a mile off Manly Beach, is THE spot in Australia when the waves are on," he says. "The surf in Hawaii, however, is even better-just like I'd always imagined. But it is very different from ours.
"Waikiki Beach is similar to many Australian beaches-and not so good. But for the keen surfboard rider other Hawaiian beaches have the perfect waves. These beaches - Makaha, Sunset, Alamoana, and the Banzai Pipe-line - have the best surf in the world.
"'The waves, building up to heights of 15 to 25ft. and then dumping on the shore, are very exciting to ride. And the greatest thrill of all is the Banzai Pipeline. This is an area where the waves, often reaching 25ft., curl over at the top to form a 'pipe' before dumping on a rocky shelf of jagged coral.
"And this was the place that put me out of the Hawaiian championships. I lost my board going down the Pipeline, but got out of it with a few scratches and an injured leg. My board, however, was wrecked. All the front was bashed in and the fin was snapped off." International surf champ (1962, August 22). The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), , p. 3 (Teenagers Weekly). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article41860055
Who was among the '20 Australians' who went to Makaha the summer before?:
Surf Life Saving Remembers A Legend
By Surf Life Saving NSW, August 12th, 2016
The sad passing of Midget Farrelly was a shock for many people in the surf community.
Best known as Australia’s first World Champion surfer in the 60s, Midget was a true waterman and was also an accomplished surfboat sweep and proud surf lifesaver.
Midget had been a member of Freshwater SLSC for a short time as a youngster, however his passion for surfboats only began when he was in his 50s, an age when many people start retiring from the rigours of sweeping such large, heavy craft.
He bought his own boats and turned novice rowers into skilled boat crews at Palm Beach, Whale Beach and Freshwater. Unlike most sweeps he focused on developing a crew’s surf skills not just their rowing ability. Midget’s crews were trained to ‘surf’ the boat not simply row it.
Fellow surfboat sweep and close friend Kim Marsh says Midget gave his crews a life perspective that was beyond coaching.
“Midget was an amazing soul – sometimes more like a poet than a sports star. I think of Midget’s brilliance in terms of a great artist, composer, author or playwright. There were many more layers to him than just a surfboard champion,” said Kim Marsh. “Only a few weeks ago Midget was talking to a friend about the grace of a surfboat on a wave at daybreak.”
Palm Beach SLSC’s current Club Captain Alex Tyrrell rowed with Midget between 2008 and 2011 and says one of his biggest contributions was to encourage young people and particularly girls to get involved in surfboat rowing.
“He gave us an opportunity to learn how to handle the surf in any conditions, and he was such a competent and confident sweep that we were rarely afraid, rather just maintained a healthy respect for the ocean,” recalled Alex Tyrrell.
“I’ll remember Midget as the man with a boyish love for any surf activity - outside of surfing and surfboats he was also pretty amazing at windsurfing, kite-surfing, SUPing and his car was always filled with wetsuits and equipment. He was the only guy I know who at 65, was still getting around on a skateboard… And killing it I might add!” she said.
Alex describes a one-in-10-year swell which would throw up a fantastic long wave on the back side of Barrenjoey headland. One day in 2009 the planets aligned and Alex recalls them catching an incredible wave for more than a kilometre across Pittwater.
“In a huge swell at a Freshie carnival we cracked a wave about three strokes out of the turning buoy in a race and he got up on the chocks and started bellowing out his version of Queen’s “We Are the Champions” at the top of his lungs. His unbridled pleasure at catching a big wave, no matter what the craft, will be the thing that sticks in my mind about Midget Farrelly,” she said.
Alex Tyrrell says Midget will be greatly missed, but not forgotten by the members of Palm Beach SLSC.
“My heart goes out to Beverlie, the love of his life, who he could never stop talking about and who brightened up every day for him. Bev and his family were so dear to him, and we send all our love and support to them.
“We will all think of him every time there’s a bit of a wave on, and I know he’ll be watching over our special part of the world for years to come.”
Mahalo nona hali'a aloha. (Hawaiian for “Thanks for the memories”)
Photo: Bernard "Midget" Farrelly (R) with good friend Matt Giblin (Palm Beach).
Sweeping Whale Beach SLSC at Warriewood in 2014.
BERNARD "MIDGET" FARRELLY COMMEMORATED AT THE 2016 AUSTRALIAN SURF FESTIVAL.
ARRAWARRA HEADLAND, COFFS HARBOUR, Monday, August 8, 2016: by Surfing NSW
Longboard competitors at the 2016 Australian Surf Festival celebrated the life of iconic surfer and former World Champion Bernard “Midget” Farrelly who passed away on Sunday, 7th August.
Crowned World Champion in 1964, Farrelly won the very first official championship in Manly. Farrelly was also inducted into the Sports Australia Hall of Fame in 1985.
Over 70 Australian Longboard Title competitors and staff – many who had met and surfed with Farrelly – gathered on the shores of Arrawarra Headland to commemorate his life.
Surfing Australia CEO Andrew Stark said: “Bernard “Midget” Farrelly was one of the true icons and legends of the sport globally. 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 and Surfing Australia in its early days and has absolutely left an amazing legacy. We pass on our condolences to the Farrelly family.”
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.”
Kamikazee Corner - Avalon/Bilgola
August 8, 2016
Love it, Saw 2 boards outside homes paying respect as well today - Mark Verrills
Yes I was thrilled to see that tribute to Midget this morning at kamikaze corner thanks so much to the very kind amazing person how had a kind heart to do that - Yes my darling RIP - Beverlie Farrelly