Bernard "Midget" Farrelly: the first-ever world surfing champion

September 4, 2012 | Surfing
Bernard 'Midget' Farrelly: the first world surfing champion

Bernard "Midget" Farrelly is the world's first surfing champion. The underrated name of modern surfing had style, skills and intelligence to mark the history of wave riding forever.

Bernard Farrelly was born on the 13th September, 1944, in Sydney, Australia. He learned to surf in the iconic North Bondi Beach, when he was less than 10 years old.

The small and agile wave rider quickly gained a nickname: "Midget". During the late 1950s, Farrelly improved his surfing skills and aimed to the top. First, he took the Australian surfing title and then he headed to Hawaii for a bigger challenge.

"Midget" Farrelly won the Makaha International Championship, in 1962, in six-foot wave conditions, and was ready for higher grounds. Luckily, it was his time.

The first ever World Surfing Championships are held in 1964 by the newly created International Surfing Federation. At Manly Beach, in Australia, Bernard "Midget" Farrelly defeats names like Joey Cabell and Mike Doyle to conquer the historical world surfing title, in front of 60,000 surf fans.

Farrelly's world surf domination and inspiration lasted long. Later, in the 1970s, "Midget" Farrelly wrote "A Surfing Life" and "How to Surf." His low profile attitude was only broken, when Bernard criticized the surf industry and what surfing had become in those decades.

In the last 40 years, Bernard "Midget" Farrelly dedicated his time to Surfblanks, a blank business company founded in Brookvale, Sydney. And he always kept 7,000 blanks in stock, anytime.

The surf legacy of Bernard "Midget" Farrelly is undeniable. The first-ever world surfing champion keeps the original surf values and the spirit of surfing alive and pumping. Farrelly is featured in the surf movie "Five Summer Stories".

Farrelly passed away in August 2016.