September 18 - 25, 2016: Issue 281

Bernard Midget Farrelly Paddle Out Tribute

Palm Beach and Whale Beach Surf Life Saving Clubs hosted a Paddle Out Tribute for Bernard Farrelly last Sunday, September 11th.
A thousand people gathered with and around the Farrelly family at Palm Beach to salute one of their own. 

Those that could not attend sent messages – there were so many messages – if the 100 thousand visitors who have visited the pictures taken by this news service is anything to go by, there are many more whose thoughts were with Midget and his family that day and for many days since, and for many to come. 

Some of those who came to be part of the Paddle Out were: Former World Champions Tom Carroll and Pamela Burridge; shoulda-been World Champs, from North Narrabeen, Simon Anderson and Mark Warren; from Byron Bay, 1965 US Champion Rusty Miller; heaps of Newport Plus elite members joining Tom and Nick Carroll; Taman Shud lead man Lindsay Bjerre; Peninsula photogs Bruce Usher and Robbi Robbi Luscombe-Newman; RipCurl head honcho from the Gold Coast now, Doug “Claw” Warbrick; from the Sunshine Coast, winner of the 1963 Avalon Board Meet, Doug Andrews; with his brother Jeff (of Goddard’s Wharf Surfer mag photo fame) and his son Chad Andrew; Manly’s Ray Moran and Dee Why’s Charlie Cardiff; shapers Mark Rabbidge, from Bendalong; and Byron's Gary Burden; from Freshwater, Lynden Riley and Steve O’Donnell, and tandem champions Simon Phin and wife Nicole; Adriaan van der Wallen on Midget’s own toothpick, restored especially for the day, and many of his fellow Palm Beach Longboard Club members; flying in from Cabarita, but better known as a Cronulla Point charger and once a G&S shaper, Peter Glasson; ASP front man for years and journo Graham Cassidy, also from Cronulla; Naomi Young, one of Nat's talented progeny; Palmie originals Owen Ravenscroft and brother Bod. Bruce Raymond Quiksilver, Kirk Wilcox from Tracks/ Quiksilver; Milton Brown (headed up Surfing as a school sport some 30 years ago and instrumental in keeping it there); Carl Gonsalves, a surfer Midget admired a lot as a Palmy local carrying his board to the beach and well you know the rest; Ken Mackie; Luke Short LSD from Yamba, and family; Avalon's Adam Watson. - courtesy Bruce Channon, who was also there.

A few who really wanted to be there:

I could not get down to Midget's Paddle Out from where I live in Moree North West NSW. However being an old Palm Beach boy from 1950 and a former surfer and a friend of Midgets I paid my respects on Sunday by doing it this way. Inland NSW. 
Ron Turton, Sunday September 11, 2016

I took this photo the day we heard Midget had passed, I was in Brookvale and had to stop by and spend a few quite moments where he had spent so much time designing and contributing to the evolution of surfboards. 
I so wish I could be at home and be a part of his paddle out today but work has me in California so wanted to again pay my respects to our Duke, our king the one and only Midget Farrelly. Thank you for everything mate and love yah RIP
Barton Lynch, Sunday September 11, 2016

Jeremy Black, Palm Beach SLSC, was M.C. and shared a few words, along with the Carroll brothers, prior to the Paddle Out ceremony:

Jeremy Black
First of all I’d like to say thank you to Beverlie and her girls and her sister and grandchildren for attending this Tribute. Thank you so much for being here today.

I’m very fortunate to have known Midget and to be able to call him a mentor.
Although Midget wasn’t one for ceremony he would be very honoured with the amount of people who have turned up here today.
Having so many people from so many walks of life and having surfers and surfboats out here shows two cultures coming together, the surfers, the clubbies, and all because of Midget.

I remember as a Grommit, around 7 years old, sitting here with a brand new board one Sunday afternoon. There was a two foot wave coming down through here, like Kiddies Corner turns on sometimes, a nice little right-hander. I saw this guy get out of a white van and open the side sliding door and inside was every toy any boy could ever want. There was scooters and skateboards and surfboards.

He gets out this 9 ½ foot Mal, wanders down to the rip, puts the board in the water and hops on just on his knees and lets the rip take him out. 
He goes down past the pool, past the last surfer in the line-up, comes around the point, pushes the tail to the back as the wave goes underneath him, pushes forward…hasn’t taken a paddle yet… stands up and does the most amazing things I’ve seen done on a board, weaves it back and forth, and I swear he took some golf shots, does more turns back and forth and manages to catch this wave all the way back to the white water where the start of the rip begins, hops on his knees and turns back out to do it again.

I watched him for about 45 minutes. We had had every intention to go out there for a surf, but we were in awe. Not only did this guy not take one paddle with his hands for the 45 minute session, he came out, and his hair was still dry.

Midget was a member of both the Palm Beach and Whale Beach Surf Life Saving Clubs. Midget joined the Palm Beach Surf Club around 20 years ago. He patrolled the beach, would teach Nippers about the ocean and took on the daunting task of learning to Sweep a surfboat, which some, even after 40 years, can’t master.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that during Midget’s first year of sweeping surfboats he got his women’s crew into the Final of the National Championships.

There were so many huge waves that day, people on the beach were watching the swell break boards and paddles and boats.
Channel 9’s Darren Eastlake’s commentary said it all and although I cannot do Daryl’s voice I’ll read what he said:
‘I can’t believe I’m watching Midget Farrelly standing in the back of surfboat at a National Final. This is a real moment in Australian surf culture. As far as the ocean goes, he has now mastered it all.’

What stays with us most is not just Midget’s prowess in surfboats but the fact that he has mentored so many young members. The fact that this is Midget, Midget Farrelly who has taught us about the ocean, taught us how to row, and will stand in the back of your surfboat competing as part of your team at a surf carnival, that’s pretty cool.

So on behalf of both Palm Beach and Whale Beach Surf Life Saving Clubs I’d like to thank you Midget, for all you’ve done in inspiring so many of our members, in helping shape our sport, and bringing our community together.

It’s very rare to find a man whose qualities equal the place where we are today. Midget and Palm Beach share those qualities in being calm, gentle and accommodating to all surfers… and both can handle a big swell.
Thank you.

Nick Carroll
A few weeks ago Tom, Barton Lynch and myself came down to Palm Beach to have a surf in honour of Midget. The surf was pretty hopeless but we all had our longboard so we just went out down the back here near the rock, where Midget would go.
Barton said something which has stuck with me, he said, ‘Midget was such a guy of routines. I can’t believe I’m not going to see him again, I’ve gotten so used to seeing him at certain places at certain times.’
One of Midget’s great routines was Sunday morning at Palm Beach. You could guarantee if you were here at 8 o’clock in the morning, every Sunday morning, Midget would be too.
During the really big swell we had during the storm in June, that smashed up Palmy like it smashed up every beach, there was a real moment of realising what we’re in the presence of when we go surfing, which is an enormous natural power.
We came down to do a Sunday morning surf training session with the surfskis. After we’d done an hour and a half of speed paddling, really worked hard, I cam in and I’m trying to put my ski back on my car, just sore, and I felt this hand pick up the back of the ski and guide it onto the roof for me.
I turned around and it was Midget.
I sat down to have a bit of a chat, as you did with Midget at Palm Beach on a Sunday morning, he had the time – he had a lot of time (for everyone).
We were talking away about the swell and he tilted his head back, wrinkle the top of his nose a bit, an expression many of you will be familiar with – Professor Midget.
I’d stand there wondering ‘what’s he going to say…what’s he going to say…
He pointed out into the middle of Palm Beach saying ‘sometimes when the swell comes in there’s a little left-hander out there, a great little left-hander. Everyone goes to North Avalon when it’s like this but out there it’s just unbelievable – it you go out 500 metres, it’s just massive and pumping.’
I thought to myself then, as many of us did I think, when you’re in the presence of Midget you’re in the presence of someone who literally has the greatest memory of surfing in this area. His memory stretched back before I was born, he was surfing in this area before most of us were born, and he understood the waves and the surf patterns around here like nobody else, literally nobody else.
He was cast by the times as a conservative person. Midget was anything but a conservative person – he was a radical human being. He mastered every single surfcraft there is to ride, from the little 5‘8 sliders form the late 1960’s, a few specimens of those here today, right up to these new boards and figured out ways to use them that very few people are able to. it’s because he applied his surfing there too.
There is not a surfer alive or dead who has conquered that many surfcraft with the same kind of serene control and joy that Midget would show when he was in the surf and riding a wave. It was as if a life that was very sardonic, an incredibly intelligent mind, that obviously applied itself to some critical problems on land, that mind would just relax and get right back into the joy of the moment.
When mine and Tommy’s generation were growing up we didn’t see a lot of Midget, he had chosen to turn into his own world with Bev and his daughters and running his business. He didn’t look for attention, didn’t look for the limelight.
When I spoke to him about that later on he said, ‘I just felt that, over time, surfing would come back to me.’
I fell today, here, with all of us, family, friends of Midget, we’re living examples of that. we’ve all come back to Midget today.

Tom Carroll
Thank you all for coming to this Tribute today. All I can feel right now is Midget’s spirit, with us here right now and I’m incredibly honoured to be a part of this Paddle Out with you here today.
I hope we can all join hands when we get out there and make this circle, the joining of hands expresses and spreads our unity. I know that Midget will be really happy to see us all together, feeling what we’re feeling today.
My personal thanks to Midget is because he forged the way for Australians winning in Hawaii. He was the first Australian to win a surfing event in Hawaii and laid the path for many to have success as Australian surfers over there and began that incredible relationship that we still have today with Hawaii.
I want to thank Midget personally for that.
In a way I think you can all look around and say thank you to each other and yourselves for taking part and paying tribute to Midget’s spirit here today.

Pittwater Online photo album for those attending for their own Family Albums available 5 p.m., 11.9.2016 HERE

During A Traditional Hawaiian Paddle Out - Family, Friends And Community Gather On The Sand

everyone, young and old who has been inspired by that person or been fortunate to have them in their own life...

A Hawaiian Kahuna Or Ku'puna Stands On The Beach In The Water With The Family And Calls In The Person's Spirit With Prayer, And An Alaka'i Blows A Conch Shell Which Has Been Blessed In The Ocean

Stories of that person are told, of the breaks they liked to surf, of the works that filled their lives, of what they said and did...

Even of the way they spoke

The People Who Are Paddling Out Stand On The Beach Facing The Surf And Hit Their Surfboards To Make Noise As The Kahuna Or Ku'puna Chants A Warrior Chant

Everyone Paddles Out On Their Surfboards (Often Family Is In A Boat), And Form A Circle With The Family In The Center.  People Hold Hands, Say Prayers, And Tell Stories About The Person Who Has Passed. 

The Ashes Are Placed Into The Water, The Flowers And Leis Are Thrown Into The Center Of The Circle, Surfboat Rowers, Kayakers And Canoeists Raise Their Paddles In Tribute

People Cheer And Splash The Water To Celebrate The Person Who Has Gone

Finally, People Catch A Wave In To Shore Carried Along, Surfing, With That Person's Spirit.

Adriaan van der wallen is riding a Bill Wallace board made for Midget and given to Adriaan by Midget - restored by Adriaan's wife Kirsty
Pictures by Jeremy Black (The Drone Guy and A J Guesdon, 2016