FAREWELL TO AN AUS­TRALIAN LEG­END

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Surfing World - - Front Page - By Mick Fan­ning

“MY UN­CLE HAD TAKEN ME OUT ON A BOARD WHEN I WAS SIX AND I HAD NEVER FOR­GOT­TEN IT, I’D NEVER FOR­GOT­TEN THE WAVE, I’D NEVER FOR­GOT­TEN THE DAY AND I’D NEVER FOR­GOT­TEN HOW I FELT, BE­CAUSE IT SCARED ME SO MUCH, BUT IT EX­CITED ME SO MUCH THAT IT WAS IN­DELI­BLY ETCHED. I WAS AB­SORBED BY THE WHOLE THING AND I WAS STEP­PING INTO A WORLD THAT WAS GO­ING TO BE MINE.”

us­tralian surf­ing wouldn’t be what it is to­day with­out Mid­get Far­relly. It wouldn’t be as pow­er­ful a force as it is, and it wouldn’t mean as much as it does to all of us, with­out his con­tri­bu­tions. He was the first to show us that Aussies could be world beat­ers, which had a last­ing in­flu­ence on gen­er­a­tions to fol­low, and he did it with­out ar­ro­gance and chest beat­ing. From what I know of him, he was ded­i­cated, ground­break­ing and hum­ble – char­ac­ter­is­tics I’ve al­ways cel­e­brated in other peo­ple and as­pired to have my­self.

Mid­get was the first real surf star we ever had, right when surf­ing was a boom­ing part of teen cul­ture. He was 19, had a World Ti­tle in his back pocket, was on TV, had his own news­pa­per col­umn and was ba­si­cally a huge celebrity. I can’t even imag­ine what that must have been like. I get peo­ple ask­ing for a selfie some­times when I’m eat­ing a burger but there are hundreds of surfers cop­ping that. Back then it was only him and there was no prece­dent at all. He must have woke up some days think­ing he was in the Twi­light Zone. Al­though we shared the same ini­tials, and the same hairdo when we were groms, we never shared the same room. I never met Mid­get. Maybe he was start­ing to shun the pub­lic events right when I was com­ing through. I re­gret miss­ing him though be­cause over the years I’ve had so many fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­ni­ties to rub shoul­ders with the el­ders of our sport and talk to them about surf­ing, and they’re al­ways so stoked. Mid­get’s pass­ing re­minds us to make the most of ev­ery chance we have to con­nect with these leg­ends be­cause they have seen the best and the worst of surf­ing and they sure do have some wis­dom to share on the di­rec­tion we’re all headed. Haha! I’m all ears. How about you?

An­other com­par­i­son I’ve heard in the past week is to do with our com­mit­ment to achiev­ing the best out of our surf­ing. I can to­tally re­late to that. I’ve al­ways thought if you’re gonna bother to do some­thing you have a pas­sion for and re­ally en­joy, then why not do it right? Set­ting that prece­dent am­pli­fies my en­joy­ment in the wa­ter and I reckon it might have been the same in that way for Mid­get.

When Mid­get passed away his daugh­ter Lucy con­tacted me and said that when he was in hospi­tal a cou­ple of days ago, he was look­ing to my surf­ing as a source of in­spi­ra­tion to get back in the wa­ter… and get back on short­boards! That pretty much floored me. I felt re­ally hum­bled that he saw some­thing in my surf­ing that made him think he had more to do with his. I was grate­ful that his daugh­ter shared that with me be­cause it also in­spired me. To think that one day I’ll be in my 60s or 70s and still look­ing at ways to im­prove and get more fun out of my next surf… it re­ally stokes me out.

Thanks for ev­ery­thing Mid­get. You showed us all the way.

Pre­vi­ous spread: Mid­get by Albe Fal­zon

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