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Surfing World - - Contents - Peter Tow­nend, 1976 World Cham­pion

Midget was the man of speed, flow and style. As a grom in the Six­ties, when news­pa­pers mat­tered, Midget had a col­umn in the Sun­day pa­per and that’s how we got the lat­est word on all things surf. For awhile too we had the Midget Far­relly Surf Show on ABC once a week, we’d all be glued to the one TV set in the house to watch his lat­est ad­ven­tures, sa­faris around Aus­tralia and the world and of course we all ended up with his book The Surf­ing Life.

If you were a grom in the six­ties, Midget was a huge part of your surf­ing life.

The first time I crossed paths with Midget was at my home beach Green­mount Point in 1970. The Aus­tralian Ti­tles were to be held there and I had made the Queens­land Team for the first time in the ju­niors. All our he­roes of the day were there and I got to min­gle first hand with them all, a starry-eyed grom­met just soak­ing it all in.

Our Queens­land lo­cal hero Peter Drouyn (to­day’s West­erly Win­d­ina) won over Midget, Nat, Ted Spencer and Keith Paull – the Aus­tralian surf­ing gods of the day – and they were all hang­ing out and com­pet­ing on my home break.

That same year, af­ter he was sec­ond to Rolf Aur­ness at Bells in the ISA World Champs, a shot came out in Witzig’s Surf Mag­a­zine that was the epit­ome of what I thought at the time was how I wanted to surf. That im­age just showed speed, flow and style and in those days style mat­tered, I was as a six­teen year old Coolan­gatta teen in­spired.

In ’73 Midget turned up in Hawaii for the first time in years and he in­vited me to go over to Makaha with him for a surf. It was my first time on the west side, it was a per­fect lit­tle off­shore inside the point day and of course Midget was like roy­alty around there hav­ing been a for­mer Makaha cham­pion. I got in­tro­duced to Buf­falo Keaulana and all the boys for the first time by a man who had re­spect.

That lead to get­ting to go with him to a luau at the Aikau’s at the fa­mous ceme­tery house to sa­vor out-of-the-ground kalua pig and drink swipe (fer­mented pineap­ple juice) with the fam­ily – a mo­ment I will al­ways trea­sure. It was as real as you get when it comes to Hawai­ian fam­ily cul­ture.

I would ar­gue that Midget was Aus­tralia’s best com­pet­i­tive surfer of the six­ties, win­ning Makaha in ’63, the in­au­gu­ral ISA World Ti­tle in Manly in ’64, fi­nalled when Nat won the ISA’S in Ocean­side in ’66, run­ner-up to Hem­mings in Puerto Rico in ’68 and then fi­nally run­ner-up to Rolf Aur­ness at Bells in ’70. That body of work is hard to match, no-one had that con­sis­tency in that decade.

He was also a mas­ter shaper and de­signer, push­ing the en­ve­lope of de­sign and the qual­ity of Midget Far­relly Surf­boards was sec­ond to none. Midget Far­relly Surf­blanks be­came a sta­ple of the Aus­tralian surf­board in­dus­try.

In home­town Coolan­gatta, lo­cal rip­per and el­der to us groms Terry “Wee­nie” Baker was the Midget Far­relly Surf­boards sales rep and would al­ways have one of Midget’s lat­est de­signs un­der his feet out at Green­mount point. His boards al­ways stood out for their stream­lined beauty and crafts­man­ship.

When Surfer Mag­a­zine’s “The 50 Great­est Surfers of All-time” is­sue came out in 2010 I was mor­ti­fied that they’d left Midget out and let the edi­tors know it. I couldn’t be­lieve it! How could they over­look such a surf­ing icon? When it came to speed, flow and style, in my opin­ion he was the best. That’s how I wanted to surf.

Above: PT and the guy he em­u­lated more than any other. Two of Aus­tralia’s most stylish World Champs. (Ai­tionn). Op­po­site: A shot young PT might have seen in an early edi­tion of SW. (Albe Fal­zon)

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