The first world surfing champion, Bernard ‘Midget’ Farrelly, has passed away form stomach cancer at the age of 71.
He was the first Australian to win a major surfing title, the 1962 Makaha International Surfing Championships, the unofficial world surfing championship of the day. In 1964 he won the inaugural World Surfing Championship at Manly.
Farrelly was also the first president, in 1961, of Australia's oldest surfboard riders club, Dee Why Surfing Fraternity, that still operates under the same name.
Farrelly also built surf boards, making his first one in 1958 at the age of 14, and later establishing a board business at Brookvale.
Tributes to the man people referred to as the ‘pint-sized surfer’, who began surfing when he was just six-years-old, poured in from across the world.
Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates said, “every young Australian of that era enjoyed the skill of Midget Farrelly. He did things on a surf board that no-one had ever seen before”.
He said surfers owed him a great deal for the sport's inclusion in the 2020 Games.