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Bernard 'Midget' Farrelly
(13 September 1944 7 August 2016)
and Farrelly Surfboards


Midget Farrelly North
          Narrabeen 1975 Photo: Aitionn

It is with much regret that I heard of Midget's passing, and my commiserations to Bev and all the family.

As a surfer, shaper, author, surfboard manufacturer, components manufacturer and supplier, Midet Farrelly's contribution  was immense.
That's without mentioning skateboards, coolites, hang-gliders, and windsurfers.
Beginning with a resurrected hollow board at Manly, he rode balsa and then foam; he was at the forefront of the "Short-board Revolution," 1967-1970; from 1965-1975 his boards set the highest standard of Australian manufacture (and, rightly, at a premium price); where after, Midget's Surfblanks became a major components supplier to the industry, including the fins (and probably the "Phenolic" blank) for Simon's first Thruster.
In recent years, Midget returned to riding a 16ft hollow board and, like many of the top-hollow board riders of the past, captained a
surfboat.

Catalogue Entries:
#6      Farrelly, Square tail  6 ft 4"
#54    Farrelly Pop-out 5ft 5"
#34    Midget Farrelly, Coolite 4 ft 10" Rubber fin
#350  Farrelly,  Stringerless 9 ft 0", 1967. 
Surfer, shaper, author, windsurfer, surfboard manufacturer, components manufacturer, hang-glider.
Born : 13 September 1945, Paddington, Sydney
Home Beach : Manly/Freshwater, Sydney
Nick Name : 'Midget"

1st Board - began surfing on a Blake Hollow timber board, found on Manly Beach,circa 1955, Age 10
In 1956 he saw Greg Noll and other members of the US/Hawaiian Surf Life Saving Team, surf their Malibu boards at Manly Beach - see 1956.

1958 1st contest,
South Avalon, fourth in the final
Early manufacturing experience in several factories in Brookvale, Sydney, including:
Barry Bennett Surfboards
Scott Dillon Surfboards
Keyo Surfboards

Image Left : Midget Farrelly and balsawood - fibreglass Pig board, circa 1958.
Note hand-painted Oval + M at sweet-spot and two tone offset bands at tail.
Probably not the board shown in Junior Surfers, Manly 1958.
Surfboard Design Modern World Magazine, July 1971, pages 30 - 36. 
Midget
                Farrelly, Balsa/Fibreglass Pig, circa 1958.

The Australian Women's Weekly
Wednesday 20 September 1961, page S4
(Supplement- Teenagers' Weekly).


Bernard "The Midget" Farrelly
doing a perfect "quasimoto."

Ron Perrott, of Harbord, took the picture.


The Australian Womens' Weekly
Wednesday 22 August 1962, 

Teenagers' Weekly (Supplement) cover
Cover image contributed by John Witzig, with many thanks, May 2011.

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. ( -page 41).
Cover story: 
Australian Wins International Championship in Peru -story page 3.

John noted that Midget Farrelly is kneeling in the centre of the photograph.
The other surfers require identification.

Note that most of the boards, probably early foam, are coloured and decals are impossible to identify.
Some of the boards in the centre appear to be balsawood.
Also note the twin fin bellyboard, centre of the rear row.
While most wear long legged boardshorts, several are in nylon briefs.
Some boardshorts have an external thick white waist cord, a short-lived fashion accessory- for example those of John Knobel (see below).

See Source Documents:
1960 Australian Womens' Weely : Surfing.
Extracts from 1961, 1963, 1964 and 1966.


Midget fights for balance in the turbulent shore-break
during the 1963 Hawaii winter season.
This Surfing Life, page 36.
The photograph was used for the illustration on the cover
of the program for the first world titles at Manly in 1964.


Midget
              Farrelly, Curl Curl Beach circa 1963 Photo: Perrott? Midget Farrelly and Makaha Trophy, January 1963.
Photograph : Ron Church
Reprinted in Australian Longboard Magazine June 2004
Page

Midget
              Farrelly, Curl Curl Beach circa 1963 Photo: Perrott?
1962  Makaha International Championship-1st,
1 January 1963, Makaha Beach, Hawaii  6 foot surf.

Left : 
Midget Farrelly : Masterly controlled spinner circa 1963,
Pollard page 8.



Surfing World
Volume 1 Number 6
1963 Feb




1962-1963
Shaper for Keyo Surfboards
Surfabout Volume 1 Number 5 1963, cover right.
Surfing World v2 n2 1963 April, cover far right.
1964 Australian Championship
Manly Beach Sydney
Held as a preliminary to the World Championships
1. Midget Farrelly
2. Mick Dooley
3. Bobby Brown.
Junior:
1. Robert Conneely
2. Nat Young
3. Wayne Cowper

Surf Guide  (USA) 
February, 1964
Cover: Midget Farrelly


1964 World Championship
Manly Beach Sydney
1st   Midget Farrelly
2nd  Mike Doyle (USA)
3rd   Joey Cabell (Hawaii)
4th    L.J. Richards (USA).
5th    Mick Dooley
6th    Bobby Brown


World Tittles Awards, Many Beach, 17 May 1964 .
Photograph by Ron Perrott.


Midget Farrelly -  Classic cutback, Manly 1964
Note that these photographs are often captioned to infer that they were taken during the Final.
They were taken in an earlier preliminary round, Midget wore shirt #2 in the final.
Right : Ross Perrott, from Farrelly: This Surfing Life,  page 12.
Left :Jack Eden, First printed in Surfabout Magazine, 1964



Surfing World
v4 n4
1964 June


Midget
Farrelly: World Contest Final Cut-Back,
Manly, 1964.

Photograph by Ron Perrott
Surfer

Volume 5 Number 4
September 1964, page 39.


The multi stringered foam board was strongly influenced by Phil Edwards' designs.





Midget
Farrelly:
Forrests Beach sequence,

circa 1964.



This Surfing Life
page 62.


1965 This Surfing Life    
This Surfing Life
Adelaide, 1965.

The Surfing Life
  New York,1967.

How to Surf 
London,1968.


Midget Farrelly Surf Skates,
1965
.
2 page advertisement

Surfing World February 1965 Volume 5 Number 6 .




1965 Australian Championships
Manly Beach Sydney May 1965
1st Midget Farrelly 2nd  Nat Young 3rd Bob McTavish. Junior Peter Drouyn
First use of stringerless design.
circa 1965
Started Farrelly Surfboards,
PO Box Palm Beach 
919 4409
Frank Gonslave's Boat Shed, Palm Beach
Employee: Warren Cornish.
Decal image left, with thanks,
Pete Williams

1965 World Championship, Semi Finalist,
Punta Rocas Peru ,
Small waves -1st,?
Positive response to the stringerless design sees this model licensed to Gordon and Smith Surfboards, California, the first of many.


Midget Farrelly surfing at Punta Rocas, Peru in the world championships.

 Photograph by Richard Graham.

Olney and Graham:
  Kings of the Surf
New York, 1969, page 65.


1966 Australian Championships, 4th

Coolangatta, Queensland
Ist Nat Young,
2nd Bob McTavish
3rd x,
4th Midget Farrelly

1966 World Championship finalist.
 Huntington Beach, California.


1st Nat Young (Aust)
2nd Jock Sutherland (H)
3rd Corky Carroll (USA)
4th Steve Bigler (USA)
5th Rodney Sumpter (UK)
6th Midget Farrelly (Aust)



International Surfing
1967
Dec

1966 Stringerless Model for Gordon and Smith Surfboards, USA.
 Image contributed by Brandon McKenney, October 2005.


1967 Australian Championship, 
3rd,??, Bells Beach Vic.
See Part Five of The Hot Generation
1st Nat Young 2nd Peter Drouyn 3rd Midget Farrelly
Midget Farrelly rides a volan glassed clear stringerless board, with concave nose and distinct nose lift, approximately 9 ft 2'' x 22''.
Nat Young's board features 6 ft of Vee in the tail.
The basic elements of these two boards in the next six months would be developed into the Vee-bottom Short board.

Board above and decal image right:Farrelly,  Stringerless 9 ft 0", 1967. 
Catalogue #350


Midget
                Farrelly and Stringerless V Bottom, Palm Beach Oct 1967 1967   Windansea Contest, finalist
-October, Northern Beaches (Long Reef, Palm Beach)
Image Left : Midget and his version of the Plastic Fantastic Machine, 
Palm Beach Oct 1967 - stringerless, Vee bottom, chamfered pod with own fin design in adapted finbox. Carter page 71.
This design made under liscence in the US by Gordon and Smith Surfboards.

Magazine articles, 1968:
Midget Farrelly : Design Interview, 1967-1968.
Surf International Vol. 1. No. 3 February 1968, page 9.

Midget Farrelly : Twelve Days in Hawaii, Winter 1967.
Surfing World Vol. 10. No. 3 March 1968  Pages 35-37.

1968 Midget Farrelly: Hawaii, Winter 1967.
Surf International Vol. 1. No. 4 March 1968  Page 9.

1968 Bobby Brown Memorial Contest 1st place.
10-11th January 1968, Cronulla Australia.

See Lester Brien: Bobby Brown Memorial Contest.
Surfing World Volume 10 Number 4, 
March-April 1968, pages 32 to 35.

Image right:
Midget Farrelly, cutback, 
Cronulla, 10-11th January 1968.

Midget demonstrating one of his
 "lousy cutbacks ... during which  he either steps off the inside rail or, digs it."

- Lester Brien, page 32.

Design article, 1968:
Midget Farrelly : The Art of the Pintail
Surf International Vol. 1. No. 5  April-May 1968  Pages 12 to 15.

Right: Farrelly Surfboards, 1968. 
Advertisement Graphic.
Accompanying text:
Classic All Round Design.
Choice of Hulls, Fins, Tints, 3 shapes.
Interstate Freight Free. Ph. 919 5169.
Write: Palm Beach PO NSW (2108).

Uncomplicated lines guarantee versatility. 
Minimum drag shapes thru,out, low white water resistance.
Minimum buoyancy,desirable for low ride and traction.
Fast outlines, foil profiles,hi-lo gun rail with free flow fin allow maximum slip, plus release thru white water.
Rocker distribution allows parallel trim in vertical water.

Surfing World Volume 10 Number 4, March-April 1968, page 22.

Midget Farrelly
                Noosa 1968 Photo : Unknown Image Right  :Midget Farrelly Noosa Heads 1968
Pintail, About 8ft
Similar board to those used at the 1968 Australian Titles 
and 1st Bobby Brown Memorial Contest.
Photograph : Unknown

1968 Australian Championship , finalist
May, Northern Beaches, Sydney (Long Reef, ) ,
1st Keith Paull, 
also Nat Young, Ted Spencer, Midget Farrelly, Robert Coneneely, Lester Brien.
Junior : Wayne Lynch,
Held over several rounds.
Image Left : Three finalists, Midget Farrelly, Nat Young and Ted Spencer, ethusiastically gulp down the sponsor's product - Milk.
From Margan and Finney, page 226
Note not a Vee bottom in sight, but boards still to go sub 9 foot.
Also note advaned fin placement on Ted Spencer's board.
Also see Kim McKenzie's Hayden Surfboard shaped by Bob McTavish, 1968.



Midget slides his pintail down
a good Warriewood wave.

Australian Titles, Sydney, 1968.


Photograph by John Witzig.
Surf International
Volume 1 Number 7, June 1968, page 27.









Bernard Farrelly - Palm Beach.

Surfing World Volume 10 Number 6, 1968, page 34.


Midget and Nat, page 41.
Photographs by Albert Falzon.

Surfing World, Volume 11. Number 3, October (?) 1968, page 14.
Advertisement (full page, black and white):

Performance Pintail ... Retaing hot-dog dimensions yet enabling tighter surfing in faster waves.
Speed Squaretail ... The ultimate in speed and forward control obtainable in a squaretail.
Performance Squaretail ... For all general purpose surfing in small to medium wave ranges.
Speed Pintail ... Exhilarating speed combined with the capacity for split-second manouvreing make this machine suitable for the advanced surfer.
(From left to right)
Farrelly Surfboards 
c/o Palm Beach Post Office, NSW, 2108.
Phone: 919-5169
All models are ultra-light and feature drag outlines and hi-lo gun rails.
Various tints and colour designs of distinction available.
Fins, area through various stages of low resistance speed fins.
Cjhoice of hulls, flat or V.
Interstate freight free.

Surfing World
v11 n5 Nov 1968

1968 World Contest 2nd,
Rincon, Puerto Rico ,
See Evolution, Part 7
1st Fred Hemmings (H), 2nd Midget Farrelly, 3rd Russell Hughes, 4th Nat Young, also Mike Doyle
(USA) and Reno Abelleira (H).
 Midget rode a Pintail 7ft10"?, Midget Farrelly Surfboards, Red bottom with Blue wing, Yellow deck 
Image,  left: Photograph by David Singletary 
Surfer magazine Vol 29 No 9 September 1988, page 124

Midget Farrelly, free surfing,
Rincon Puerto Rico, 1968.
Photograph: Unaccredited

Surf International
Volume 2, Number 1, page 27. 
January 1969.


Left:
Midget Farrelly and others, Pueto Rico, 1968.
Surf International

Volume 2, Number 1, page 24. 
January 1969.




Right:
Midget Farrelly and  Rounded Pin,
Huntington Beach  probably after 1968 World Contest.
Further models for Gordon and Smith, California.

Photograph : Leroy Grannis
From Carroll: The Next Wave, page 41.


The Side Slipper design by Reno Abellia for  Inter-Island Surfboards was first noted at the Huntington Beach Contest, 1969.
In Australia the  design was taken up by Midget Farrelly (Farrelly Surfboards) and Terry Fitzgerald at Shane Surfboards.

#45, Keyo egg fin
Farrelly Surfboards Advertisement, circa 1970.
Surfing World 
Volume 13 Number 4 page 8, 1970

Note : The Volan deck patches and the red board 
on the left has a much wider tail than the two to the right.


The only board that allows the surfer to ride sideways, backwards or in a spinning circle.
The slipper has advantages a conventional board lacks
Speed comes easy,  control is super positive through the flat bottom and low, soft rails.
Basically, the board is longer, thinner and a diamond shape in outline.
The fin is smaller to facilitate release only when desired.
The rails amd bottom allow a shallow draft fin in any case, and the fin used is both adjustable and removable. Midget has ridden this shape in most every kind of wave.
Reef surf was where the speed from the bottom and the rails was best put to use.
In beach break the board responded to all manouvres and created new freedoms with side slips to hold curl position and 360's to fill the gap between peaks of sections.
Fantastic sensations can be had riding whole sections backwards.
Th e most average surfer is going to find this surfboard easy to ride.
Thje side slipper can't be compared to any other board that has gone before it.
The only limitation this surfboard has is the surfer who rides it.

Farrelly Surfboards, 230 Harbord Road, Brookvale 2018  Phone : 939-1724.

1970 Midget Farrelly : Hawaiian Surfers.
Surfing World, Volume 13 Number 5, circa June 1970?
This edition also included a four page colour advertisement for Farrelly Surfboards, unprecedented for an Australian magazine of the period, further promoting  the Side-slipper design, first announced in the previous edition, and a revolutionary fin box design.
Surf International Volume 3 Number 1
Midget Farrelly, Bells Beach, World Contest heats, 1970.

Page 39
(Advertisement, reformatted)
Farrelly
230 Harbord Road, Brookvale 2100, NSW, Phone 939-1724. 

The Side Slipper comes from Hawaii. 
It was designed to put the surfer back where the actIon IS, In the curl! 
Either by side-slipping or employing the 360 you can find your way back into the pocket. 
The Hawaiian (Aussi patriots and Downunder experts wince now!) Side Slipper would be slightly thinner and up to six inches longer than a conventional shortboard. 
Farrelly or his dealers can tell you how to achieve best results from a range of three fins that individually alter the Slippers performance.
Should you prefer another design try one of Farrelly's Roundtails, Double Enders, Diamond or Square Tails, Big wave Boards, and even belly boards.
Pages 41-42
(Advertisement, continued, full page photograph, cropped)
Page 43
(Advertisement, continued, reformatted)
This is the first removable, sliding fibreglass fin unit in Australia.
It can be found on Farrelly surfboards, Midget has always preferred glass fins refusing to install substitutes
and he has this patented system that will revolutionize fin systems all over the world.
This fin system is installed in new boards at no extra cost.
- Surf International
Volume 3 Number 1, 1970, pages 39-43.


1970 Midget Farrelly : Side Slipper.
Surfing World, Volume 13 Number 6, circa July 1970?

Farrelly Surfboards Advertisement, circa 1970.

Surf International 

Volume 3 Number 4, 197, page 47.

this proud vessel bears the builder's nameplate: Farrelly.
she was hand made at 230 Harbord Road, Brookvale, 2100.
With typical care and precision she was assembled, using only the finest materials available.

she is known to travel the world's oceans.
You may see her in Hawaii, California, the East Coast, and South Africa.

wherever you see her, you'll know her immediately for her superior finish, her beautiful colours, and her progressive fin system.

her owners are proud men themelves.
Long ago they realised her value above all others.
Though she cost more to build and procure, her design and construction were so advanced she could handle the ocean in all its moods and survive the toughest treatment.

prospective owners should contact the builder at the above address and inform him of a design they have chosen to be built.

the builder is proud to announce that although he is not using the mass-production techniques of many of his competitors, any order can be met in one or two  weeks through the sheer dedication of his employees, and freighted free to the new owner.

farrelly
230 harbord road, brookvale 2100, nsw, australia, 939-1724.

1971# 54 Farrelly Popout 5 ft 5
1970 World Contest 2nd,
Johanna Beach, Victoria, Australia
1st Rolf Aurness (USA),
2nd Midget Farrelly,
3rd Peter Drouyn, also Nat Young, Reno Abellira and Keone Downing (both Hawaii)

See Sea of Joy, Part 6?
Midget Farrelly rides a approximate 7 ft Side-slipper with Yellow bottom/clear deck with black pinlines, but like Reno Abellira on a similar board, surfs in the conventional manner or the day.

Left: Midget Farrelly cutback, World Contest heats, Bells Beach, 1970.
- Surf International, 1970.


# 45 Farrelly script '69
1970 Gunston 500, 1st
South Africa

Design advertisement by Midget Farrelly, 1971:
Farrelly Surfboards : Surfboard Design
Tracks Magazine, December 1971, page ?.
The Whiska in Single, Twin and Tri Fin models. plus the Belly Rider.

1971 # 214 Farrelly Diamond tail 6 ft 3
# 45 Farrelly script '69
1972
Extremely narrow speed guns by Midget, probably as narrow as boards went in this period, with triple stringers and finboxes.

 
Midget Farrelly: Design
Tracks Number 19, April 1972, page 31.

1973 Bells Beach Contest- finalist
Easter, Bells Beach, Victoria
Rip Curl Bells Beach Pro Am
First Australian Professional Contest, Cumulated points for manourve system 'Objective System' over several rounds (originally designed by George Downing, Jeff Hackman and Duke Boyd  and first used at 1973 Hang Ten Contest, Hawaii).
The surf ranged from 6 ft to plus twelve feet fot the whole contest.
"Best surfing since Bells 1963 " Rodney Sumpter, Surfer magazine Vol 14 No 3 September 1973
1st Michael Peterson, others Midget Farrelly,Tony Hardwick, Simon Anderson and Ted Spencer

CHRISTMAS SUPRISES FROM
TOYLAND
...
Midget Farrelly
5' Pro Champ Surfboard
With strong flexi-finish.
Regular Price $15 95
DISCOUNT PRICE  $11.95


SYDNEY WIDE
discount stores
ALBANY STREET, FYSHWICK
95-2277



Trove
1973 'Advertising', The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995), 29 November, p. 4. , viewed 10 Aug 2016,
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article131695124




circa 1972
Midget Farrelly Sufboards leaves 230 Harbord Road, Brookvale address and Surfblanks factory is established at:
7 Perak Street Mona Vale, Phone : 997-2014 , 919-5319
Michaelangelo (of mallet and chisel fame) has been doing some wood and glass fins with beautiful laminated colours.
SW January 1974 Volume 18 Number 6 Page ?

Left: Surfblank Regular Weight 11-12-(19)74.
Image courtesy of Ken Grieves, July 2014.


Retail sales at Number 1 Alexandria Street, Collaroy.
Specific wave range performance is Midget's speciality, the final interpretation of the wave is yours.
Saturday 10-12 am only. Call Surfblanks weekdays 997-2014 (Mona Vale), 919-5319 (Palm Beach?).
Average price $120.00
SW January 1975 Volume 20 Number 4 Page 16?

This issue also contains an article with photographs,
"Shaping New Designs" by Midget Farrelly, pages 14 - 19.
Also note previous article in SW January 1974 Volume 18 Number 4 Pages 30 - 32.
"Sanding and Finishing a Surfboard" by Midget Farrelly,
Photographs by Bruce Usher (of Midget and  Warren Cornish)

Right: Farrelly Surfboards Showroom, Collaroy.
Surf Australia September 1977, Volume 1 Number 5 page


1975 Coke Contest
Northern Beaches, Sydney
See Photographs top and bottom of this page.
1975 Hang-gliding
Around 1974 Midget became interested in the new sport of hang-gliding and
between 1975 and 1980 he designed, manufactured and sold his own brand of hang-gliders from his Surfblanks factory in Brookvale.
Initially the kites were towed by by speed boats, the pilot launched while wearing water-skis, but with improvements in design, experience  and skill in the early 1970s they were flown untethered, literally soaring like a bird.
Popular sites around Sydney were the headland at Long Reef on the Northern beaches and Stanwell Park, pioneered by Steve Cohen in 1972.
See Australian Hang-gliding History
http://www.australian-hang-gliding-history.com/concise-history/index.html

circa 1976- 7
Surfblanks factory and  Midget Farrelly Sufboards moves to
11 West Street, Brookvale, Phone : 938-3220.
Surf Magazine (ed Steve Core), 1977 Volume 1, Number 5















Midget testing a new Surfblank, 1976.

That is a blank only with no glass and resin, and no fin.
 


Dugan, Michael :

Australian Fact Finders : Surfing,
1978, pages 10 and 12.

First printed in a Surfblanks advertisement,
Breakaway, August 1976, page 1?

In 1980-1987 Midget pioneered surf sailing in Australia.
Below: Sailboard decals circa 1983, courtesy of Peter Williams, November 2014.



Midget Farrelly Designs (mini + malibus) are available under liscense, circa 2000.


Midget Farrelly Coolites

Midget Farrelly Pro-Champ
4ft 10''
circa 1972
with rubber fin

Midget Farrelly Fibreboard by Hanimex
circa 1986
fabric covered

Photograph by Ken Grieves, March 2014.

REFERENCES
Books
This Surfing Life
Other Books
The Australian Surfrider   Chapter 1. For Real Kicks ....Bernard ("Midget") Farrelly     Pages 9 - 16.

Midget Farrelly Contest Record

1958 South Avalon
Midget's first contest, he came fourth in the final.

1962  Makaha International  Makaha Beach, Hawaii, December 1962-1 January 1963.
1st.

1964 Australian Championship, Manly Beach, Sydney, May 1964.
1st.
Held for selection to the World Championships.

1964 World Championship , Manly Beach, 16 and 17 May, 1964.
1st.

1965 Australian Championships, Manly Beach, May 1965.
1st, first use of Midget's stringerless design in competition.

1965 World Championship, Punta Rocas Peru, February 1965.
Semi-finalist.

1966 Australian Championships, Coolangatta, Queensland, June 1966.
4th

1966 World Championship, Ocean Beach and Huntington Beach, California, October 1966.
6th.

1967 Australian Championship, Bells Beach Victoria, March 1967.
3rd.

1967   Windansea Contest, Long Reef, Palm Beach, November 1967.
2nd.

1968 Bobby Brown Memorial Contest, Cronulla, 10-11th January 1968.
1st.

1968 NSW Titles Wollongong (and Bellambi?)
4th.

1968 Australian Championship
,
May, Northern Beaches, Sydney (Long Reef, ) ,
finalist


1968 World Contest, Domes and Rincon, Puerto Rico
2nd.

1969 Bobby Brown Memorial Contest, Cronulla,1st & 2nd March 1969
1st Frank LattaFarrelly,

1969  Duke Kahanamoku Invitational, Sunset Beach Hawaii
Invitee.

1970 World Contest
, Bells Beach and
Johanna Beach, Victoria.
2nd.

1970 Gunston 500, South Africa
1st


1973
Rip Curl Bells Beach Pro Am, Bells Beach, VictoriaEaster.
Finalist
The first Australian professional contest using the 'Objective System', where the surfer an accumulated points for each maneuver. The method was designed by George Downing, Jeff Hackman and Duke Boyd  and first used at 1973 Hang Ten Contest, Hawaii.
 
1975 Coke Contest, Northern Beaches, Sydney
15th.

1975 Bells Beach Contest, Easter.
8th.


Web Pages


Magazines
Tracks October 1990 Interview by Nick Carroll Pages 45 - 49.

Film(Appearances)
From  Thoms :Surf Movies, above.
Header Image

Midget Farrelly, North Narabeen, Sydney.
1975 Coke Contest Competitor.
Photograph by Aitionn
Apparently a favourite photograph, a graphic version remains the familiar logo of Midget Farrelly's Surfblanks components company.
Cliff, Paul (editor):
A Sporting Nation - Celebrating Australia's Sporting Life.
Surfing World Magazine Pty Ltd (inc. NSW)National Library of Australia.
Canberra ACT 2600 Australia, 1999.
Soft cover, pages, extensive black and white and colour illustrations and photographs, Bibliography, Acknowledgements, Index.
Review
The article of interest is Boards, Sand, Togs and Flags, pages 68 to 77, with comments by Benard 'Midget' Farrelly recorded 30th October, 1984.
Page 68

Boards, Sand, Togs and Flags.

STARTING OUT: Bernard 'Midget' Farrelly

I WAS LIVING AT MANLY, round about 1955 or 1956, less than 100 yards or so from the beach ...During one of the many storms that occurred through the winter months ...surfboards would get washed out of the area underneath the surf dub where they were stacked... I picked up a battered long board, it was about 18 feet [5.5 m] [and] discovered that it either had no owner or the owner no longer wanted it ...I took it home, repaired it, got a set of wheels for wheeling it down to the surf, and I started surfing.

I rode those sort of [hollow, plywood] boards for the next couple of years ...' until I saw a visiting Hawaiian Olympic team come to Manly on short balsa boards ...10, 11 foot [3.3 m] balsa boards covered with fibreglass ...it was the '56 Olympics ...

Surfing hadn't even begun other than in the surf dubs ...Around about '58 or '59... I [became] a member of the Freshwater Surf Club.
At that stage balsa boards ...around about 10 feet [3 m] in length, were well and truly established ...

I BOUGHT A BALSA BOARD KIT ...and built my first board while I was living in South Curl Curl... around about 1958 or '59 ...[Roger Kieran, at Beacon Hill, NSW, came] up with production balsa boards ...with the removable fin, and ...

Page 69

... fin-box system ... Roger sort of fiddled with anything-and-everything that looked like it might work... Some of the better [boardmakers] were Joe Larkin, who did cedar and ash, Bill Wallace, who did Pacific maple and ash and some other nice versions, Gordon Woods, Barry Bennett-and at that stage I think Greg McDonagh was probably fooling around with polystyrene, trying to do in polystyrene and epoxy what the Hawaiians had done in balsa and fibreglass ...

I started building surfboards completely on my own in 1964, up at Palm Beach, in a boatshed.

there were two major influences in getting Australian surfing going .. .
(1) was Bud Brown's surfing movies.
And (2) was the first two or three issues of the American Surfer magazine ...a collection of stills and
written material giving more depth to that sport and lifestyle.
It was this strengthening of the sport and the lifestyle that ultimately led surfers away from the surf club.

Page 70


Image left:
Midget Farrelly and other competitors, Australian Championships or World Contest, Manly, 1964.


(above) 'Midget' Farrelly, World Surfboard Champion.
Farrelly had won the Makaha Hawaiian Championship in 1963, prior to the first World Amateur Titles held at Manly Beach, Sydney (above), in 1964.
He competed successfully until 1970.
His lively, graceful style is often contrasted to fellow rider Nat Young's high-speed, more aggressive attack, which saw the latter take out the World Title at Ocean Beach in San Diego in 1966, as well as the 1970 World Pro Championship.
Together, Farrelly and Young paved the way for later riders such as Mark Richards (four times World Champion, 1979-82), Tom Carroll and Pam Burridge, in a sport in which Australia would seem destined to remain a major player.
ANIB; courtesy National Archives of Australia

WINNING MAKAHA - AND AFTER

I ENTERED THE [1962] MAKAHA CONTEST and most of the other Australians were eliminated .., And it came down to the final day, where the surf was relatively small... The waves were around six feet [1.83 m] maximum, averaging about four feet, and I happened to come further inside... I sort of cut the course in half, so to speak... I just moved inside and caught more rise in a wave that came along ...

There happened to be three Californian judges on the stand at the time ...
The fact that they appreciated small waves ...combined with the fact that I had an ability to ride small waves, probably made the result come out the way it did .., The uproar caused by a non-Hawaiian winning that event was completely unbelievable ...The newspapers in Honolulu at that time carried [such] headlines .,. as 'Hawaiian Surfing Prestige Wiped Out.'
I actually had the odd Hawaiian chasing me ...

I came back to Australia after the Makaha contest and the event had sort of caused a small ripple here, but it sort of ...grew... Australia was a very different .I country then ...[which] looked down on itself, but got pride out of any winning that any individuals or teams could achieve.
So it took a while for .., people to realise that an Australian had actually won something... and the newspapers made a small sensation out of it.
And ironically about that time the popularity of surfing as something other than a sport-surfing as a sub-culture or a lifestyle-took off.

The Californian experience [was] that once you had this formula of beach, .. waves, music, clothes, cars, language- you had an explosive sort of situation.
And the same thing occurred here .., it just took off.

Page 71

FROM SURF CLUBS TO SURFABOUT

SURF CLUBS WERE FAIRLY REGIMENTED in their beach sport. [Lifesavers] marched in a line, they carried reels in a line, they carried flags in a line, they'd pull a boat down the beach in a disciplined way- and surfers were the opposite.
They were nonconformists, and they surfed when the waves were good, and they were doing it as individuals, not as teams, and the surf clubs saw themselves threatened ...

They tried banning [surfboard riding] at beaches, they tried registering boards.
Surfers were branded as dangerous in and out of the water: 'louts, hooligans' ... trying to hit people with their boards... I think the most disgusting incident I saw was local councils registering surfboards in the belief that they could control them on behalf of the surf clubs and protect the public, when in actual fact it was a revenue-raising exercise which ultimately became self-defeating
People refused to register their surfboards... Today, surfers still prize the old registration stickers- just, you know, to show young people what the coundls and the surf clubs of the time had in mind ...and how people were actually so afraid of surfing ...

The sport at that time had sort of enjoyed a kind of a strong, relatively healthy image.
We had ...gone through the "surfer/rocker war" newspaper sensationalism period ...But it [was to change fairly dramatically.
Round about the time of Flower Power and LSD and the San Francisco experience, there was a ...major influence brought to bear ...by people who were attempting to establish themselves as gurus of the sport ... Anybody who doubts [this] should go and see The Fantastic Plastic Machine, because everything that ever went wrong with surfing is captured in that movie... at one stage it was said that ...

Page 72

... if you weren't into dope you didn't know what you were doing in the waves ... Anybody young in surfing was automatically pressured to get into dope as well ...The end results were relatively catastrophic, and the history of surfing is quite perverted through that period, and much of the material written about surfing during that period is quite nonsensical.

Meanwhile, in the background, surfing was still sort of clicking away as the ... natural sport it always was and always will be- a wave, a surfboard and a human and the world contests were still being run, and luckily the dope culture began to separate out [from it] ...

Much was made of the so-called birth of the modern style of surfing through 1966 onwards, but in reality it was a fabrication by a small group of individuals seeking to exert influence over... the sport at the time... All of the theories proposed ultimately fell by the wayside in competition ...

So, as surfing got into the seventies, a lot of the young guys who didn't like dope sub-culture lifestyle nonsense ...said, 'Well, this is not what we want.
We want surfing as the sport we've always loved ...and we want to turn it into a ...fairly honourable thing again, and we'd like to maybe make a living doing it.

And through the efforts of people like Mark Warren ...like Graham Cassidy and the people that helped him, surfers of that period wanted to recapture the feeling of the early '60s, when surfing was a sort of vibrant, exciting sport- healthy... a rewarding, just-to-be-in-it sort of thing.
And through the establishment of the Surfabout Contest... surfing was sort re-born in the public's image, and the professionalism that evolved ...has ... continued since that time.

Page 73

DESIGNING BOARDS
[DUKE KAHANAMOKU] used a heavy, solid wood board here all those years ago.
I've ...seen that board many times; it's not a board I'd like to ride.
The hollow racing-style surf club boards which could still wave ride were made very light, but basically only men were supposed to use them.
They were 14, 16, 18-feet [4.27-5.5 m] long ...

Balsa boards that are around 10-feet [3 m] were the breakthrough.
A girl could carry one of those-and that's when the possibilities of all people surfing really arose... By the time the urethane foam boards came along, the weight of a surfboard had been reduced, say, from the early days from ...100 pounds [45 kg] down to something like 15 pounds [seven kg]
and less.

And many people experimented with shape and construction-and not all of the changes that occurred can be credited to any single individual.
It was mostly a 'suck-and-see' approach all the way down the line ..

As surfboards supposedly progressed and got smaller and smaller, more fins were attached - basically... for mobility of the wave.
Like dancing, surfing changed.
It appeared to be simple at first and then it became complex and then it became specialised - 'til today the modem surfboard can only be ridden by a very light person or a very athletic person, and the surfboard manufacturing industry has actually painted itself into a comer which it is now desperately trying to get out of, because there aren't enough small, light, physically-aggressive people to buy them.

So we went from single fins, to twins, to tris, to quads to- I even have a five-fin that works nicely on bigger waves... It's actually the balance of the board on the wave that counts, ...

Page 74

... and single-fin balance doesn't compare with the twin-fin balance ...and a penta- fin doesn't compare.
It's all a balance that can be achieved by reducing the size of each fin and its position on the board, and it is the rider who sort of understands this best.

When the board is locked into a wave by one fin, it has that feeling of being locked in.
When a board is held onto the wave face by a variety of small fins, it' is only barely held onto the wave face, so the board is actually skating around ... a more fluid, spontaneous, creative style of surfing is achieved... quite delightful for the eye to watch ...

The good thing about the phase that surfing is going into now is that the variety of surfing equipment is so broad and so interesting ...everybody has a son or a daughter who surfs ...We are achieving a sort of physical fitness through the sport having arrived at its present stage, from those first visits by
the Duke ...it has ...fitted into everyday Australian life.

I THINK THAT ANY SURFING BREAK is ideal, provided that you can get what you want out of it.
I learnt to ride in bad waves, because I sharpened my reflexes in bad waves.
When I had to learn to ride big waves I had to go to Hawaii.
When I had to learn to ride long, easy, soft, gentle waves I went to Queensland.
But I don't have any preference - I think variety is the important thing.
Likewise ...with your surfing stock-you have to keep changing to stay interested ...

If I was going to teach somebody to surf, basically all I would say to them is:
'Well, there is the wave.
This is the board that suits that wave-and you, all you have to do, is get what you want out of that wave.
If you only want to ride it laying down, then do that ...If you want to become a high-performance, professional-style competitor, you've got to work hard at a great variety of manoeuvres and become a total athlete.'


Cliff, Paul (editor): 
A Sporting Nation - Celebrating Australia's Sporting Life.
Surfing World Magazine Pty Ltd (inc. NSW)National Library of Australia.
Canberra ACT 2600 Australia, 1999.
Soft cover, pages, extensive black and white and colour illustrations and photographs, Bibliography, Acknowledgements, Index.
Review
The article of interest is Boards, Sand, Togs and Flags, pages 68 to 77, with comments by Benard 'Midget' Farrelly recorded 30th October, 1984.

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home catalogue history references appendix

Geoff Cater (2002-2015) : Catalogue : Surfer-Manufacturer : Midget Farrelly.
http://www.surfresearch.com.au/sMidget_Farrelly.html