Surfing World - - Contents - Farewells and Thank Yous


Wife The very first time I laid eyes on Midget was in Jimmy Car­ruthers’ milk bar, around 1962. He walked in with a group of Dee Why boys af­ter a surf, and my girl­friends and I were sit­ting across from the door­way, in a group. From the day I met him his pale blue jeans and a white T-shirt was to­talled with an ad­di­tion of white sneak­ers. His uni­form didn’t change for a long time, and later as a group the girls and I used to travel into Dee Why for a Satur­day night dance – I could catch glimpses of him around the place. Af­ter a one Satur­day night I re­mem­ber pick­ing up my sis­ter Ch­eryl from where she worked. Coin­ci­dently Midget was there with his friends hav­ing cof­fee. Our first de­cent con­ver­sa­tion came from his propo­si­tion to me, want­ing to know if I would join him at Denny Keyo’s en­gage­ment party. I had a wed­ding also that night but I ar­ranged to meet him at the party later. I asked Bernie Alexan­der to drive me in his Blue Bee­tle and wait out­side just in case. The party was in full swing. I wasn’t able to find Midget so I went straight home. The next morn­ing, he was on my doorstep. He took me surf­ing and it all be­gan.


Daugh­ter I was 15 and it was an ad­ven­ture, I was ter­ri­fied. Mid-80s and Dad and I were wind­surf­ing Long Reef, off the beach. We met some of Dad’s friends and set our des­ti­na­tion for ‘Lit­tle Makaha’; it was the fur­thest we had ever been and the wind was com­ing in at the per­fect an­gle for it. We had to sail out quite a far way, and set a tack to head back into Lit­tle Makaha. I was so afraid to jibe that I seemed des­tined to hit an out-to-sea oil tanker. I didn’t know at the time but Dad was quite wor­ried for me. Even­tu­ally I had the guts to brave the jibe out in the ocean, af­ter watch­ing Dad do it. We ended up rid­ing knee-high waves at Lit­tle Makaha, and en­joyed the rest of the day. It was through these wind­surf­ing days that my father in­tro­duced me to Matt, my hus­band.


Daugh­ter Dad took me hang-glid­ing. We went to Long Reef and I made my­self busy by play­ing in the dunes. I would keep my­self oc­cu­pied for hours and watch­ing all the glid­ers above me. There was no one else out of our fam­ily, just us two. Af­ter a cou­ple of hours, Dad landed and came up to me, “Jo it’s your turn.” Some of his friends lifted me up on his back and be­fore I knew it we were fly­ing over Long Reef. I was on Dad’s back grip­ping his fleece as we glided over the ocean. I was only eight and it’s the clos­est I’ve ever been to fly­ing, I still have fly­ing dreams to this day.


Daugh­ter “We are go­ing to get a big one, let’s go.” It was a typ­i­cal Sun­day at Palm Beach. I was about nine years old. The surf was kind of good, good enough for peo­ple to come from out of the area. Dad was out surf­ing the south corner (kid­dies) rid­ing them all the way along the beach to the front of the surf club. I was body­surf­ing out the back with some fins on, too scared to surf. We met up on the wa­ter’s edge and he grabbed me and I re­sisted, I was al­ways run­ning away. He con­vinced me to go out tan­dem with him. We pad­dled out through the rip at Kid­dies, and he al­ways had to sit the fur­thest out. I was ner­vous, I kept say­ing it’s too far out Dad, can’t we just pick a small one to start with. He in­sisted that we get a big one, The knock heeled, back­side trim­lines of Midget at full speed. “You would reg­u­larly see surfers leave the wa­ter to watch him surf. He had it all.” said long time friend Mick Doo­ley. (John Pen­nings)

and we did. We ended up get­ting one of the larger ones. He al­ways yelled pad­dle hard Luc and we care­lessly glided across the face of the wave all the way into the beach. We all have many, many mem­o­ries that will stay with us for­ever. He gave us strength and courage and taught us all that the ocean is life The man was 100 per cent salt­wa­ter.


Surfer, Shaper, Con­tem­po­rary Midget and I first met in 1959. He was a 15-year-old north­side surfer and I was an 18-year-old south­side surfer from Bondi. Af­ter my move to Manly we would see each more of­ten in the wa­ter. His first for­ays into mak­ing boards for him­self were at his fam­ily home, and the re­sul­tant mess de­lighted his par­ents. As he got older, but still a teenager, his surf­ing tal­ent re­ally started to be no­ticed. You would reg­u­larly see surfers leave the wa­ter to watch him surf. He had it all. I am very for­tu­nate to have known and surfed with Bernie and been able to call him my friend. We surfed in lo­cal, state and na­tional com­pe­ti­tions, as well as be­ing Aus­tralian team rep­re­sen­ta­tives at the 1964 World Ti­tles at Manly. We did many things to­gether in those early days, surf trips and Ho­bie Cats at his beloved Palm Beach, and in later years he at­tempted to teach me hang glid­ing, rather un­suc­cess­fully on my part. Midget’s gone, but his legacy re­mains. We should never for­get his enor­mous con­tri­bu­tion to the surf­ing life of Aus­tralia. He was the first Aus­tralian

surfer to be no­ticed on both the na­tional and in­ter­na­tional stage. He will al­ways be re­mem­bered by me and my gen­er­a­tion as be­ing a gen­tle­man, great surfer and suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man. We will surf to­gether again one day. R.I.P. Bernie.


Mcdon­agh Surf­boards Founder/sds Greg and I first met Mas­ter Bernard Far­relly when he would visit our home in Evans Street, Har­bord. We were mak­ing surf­boards un­der the house in the early six­ties. Bernard be­came known as ‘The Pray­ing Man­tis’ and later as Midget, cut­ting across a wave with his hands and knees bent like a stick in­sect. Midget was cer­tainly a his­tor­i­cal board­rider and his name will be long re­mem­bered. Fare thee well old mate.


1964 World Cham­pion No­body thought we were go­ing to win the World Ti­tles at Manly. Ev­ery­one thought that Linda Ben­son would win the women’s, and ei­ther Joey Ca­bell, or one of the other Amer­i­cans, would win the men’s. But Midget and I proved oth­er­wise. There was a lot of hype about it def­i­nitely; I mean there were thou­sands and thou­sands down there at Manly. Af­ter that we went out to Manly and had a few lit­tle nog­gins. Would you be­lieve I’ve got a ter­rific photo of Midget and my­self when we won the World Ti­tle, with our tro­phies. When I look at it I can’t be­lieve he’s passed away.


Leg­endary Board­maker No­body could walk up and down a board like Midget, it seemed like he didn’t put any weight on the damned thing, he was just sort of float­ing. He was magic to watch. Few peo­ple can be a bal­let dancer on a surf­board. He was just gen­tle with his surf­ing. He was unique and he’ll be missed.


1999 World Cham­pion He was all­time, our first World Cham­pion. He’ll be dearly missed. I got to meet him a few times and he was such a happy-go-lucky guy, re­ally funny too. It’s re­ally sad. My heart goes out to the fam­ily. He paved the way for all of us.


2x World Cham­pion He came into our store at Narrabeen about once a month. I learnt to surf on coo­lites, and the first surf­board I ever rode with a fin was a Midget Far­relly. I prob­a­bly had about six or seven of his boards over the years. I re­mem­ber lean­ing one up against the garage door try­ing to stand on it, when I was about seven or eight, try­ing to do re-en­tries and break­ing it. So my par­ents went and bought me an­other one. Ev­ery­one looked up to him as a World Cham­pion, but I think first and fore­most he was a good per­son. And to me as a surfer, that’s the one thing I’ll re­mem­ber him for – be­ing a nice guy. I used to surf with him a lot around the north­ern beaches and I re­mem­ber him crash­ing his hang glider into the surf at War­riewood when I was 13 years old. He was a pi­o­neer at ev­ery­thing. I re­mem­ber the first time I went to the snow, I saw a guy com­ing down in a one­piece Quik­sil­ver ski suit on ba­si­cally one of those mono-boards and I thought “How’s this guy!” He was the only one the moun­tain who looked like that, and it ended up be­ing Midget Far­relly. He was a real in­di­vid­ual, a gen­tle­men and well re­spected. Midget was a leg­end.


Pipe and Style Guru As the won­der­ful sport of surf­ing con­tin­ues to grow, there is the in­evitable loss in this process of a small fam­ily sud­denly be­com­ing a mob of mas­sive pro­por­tions.

What goes away is an in­ti­macy where the lessons, in­flu­ences and the tre­men­dous ac­com­plish­ments of our lead­ing el­ders are no longer com­mon knowl­edge to help mold and di­rect those who fol­low. While there are al­ways a few with that spe­cial vi­sion and aware­ness to ride, in a metaphor­i­cal sense, a surf­board with­out a fin, most of us need some­thing to re­late to and give us a sense of di­rec­tion. Midget Far­relly’s many con­tri­bu­tions to fur­ther­ing the world of surf­ing will, in a large part and sadly, go un­her­alded and even un­ap­pre­ci­ated ex­cept by those who were there when it was a smaller, less com­pli­cated world. We will all miss one of the great lead­ers of surf­ing. He led by ex­am­ple and it was a while, if ever, be­fore many of us even knew we were fol­low­ing.


Brother to SW Founder Bob Evans On be­half of my late brother Bob. Sad to hear of Midget’s pass­ing, an icon of our surf­ing his­tory. Gone but never for­got­ten.


1968 World Cham­pion Midget Far­relly was the best in ev­ery sense of the word. I learned first­hand of Midget’s dig­nity and hon­our as a gen­tle­man in Puerto Rico in 1968. He pi­o­neered mod­ern day per­for­mance surf­ing in Aus­tralia and was truly the best. Aus­tralia should al­ways re­mem­ber Midget with pride. Surf­ing has been en­riched by his life.


1964 World Cham­pi­onships Run­ner-up Surf­ing lost the first and best spokesman it ever had. He was a great per­son.


Surfer, Shaper, In­no­va­tor I be­came of aware of Midget’s ’64 World Ti­tle win years af­ter the fact, be­ing only 10 at the time. This event was al­ways a leg­endary mo­ment in his­tory to me but when­ever an im­age or footage ap­peared from the ’64 con­test, it would res­onate some­how like I was part of Aus­tralian surf­ing go­ing back to the be­gin­ning at Manly. Grow­ing up at Col­laroy I have early mem­o­ries of see­ing Midget surf in per­son at my home beach and also Long Reef in the late 60s.

A ses­sion at Col­laroy on an in­no­va­tive sideslip­per in­spired us to sand down our nor­mal size sin­gle fins, even­tu­ally to the point where the board no longer worked. An­other ses­sion at Long Reef, with Midget emerg­ing from the

surf hoist­ing his board ver­ti­cally above his head in a ges­ture of sat­is­fac­tion and stoke on surf­ing, stuck with me. Midget’s boards al­ways ap­peared unique and in­no­va­tive. Case in point are the 1970 Jo­hanna World Ti­tles boards that had dropped in length to 5’4” or 5’6” and were func­tional to a point. Midget held out and surfed a longer board against all trends, plac­ing sec­ond to Rolf Ar­ness.

I worked with Midget from the mid 70s to the 90s and still at times to­day, but back then I got to know the man be­hind the leg­end a lit­tle. He al­ways thought he knew best, the only at­ti­tude to have in our in­dus­try as it turns out, and most of the time he did know best. We worked to­gether on early cus­tomised rock­er­ing – a con­cept that he wasn’t too keen on in the be­gin­ning; his rock­ers were ad­e­quate – he knew best. Midget also sup­plied us with Ul­tra­light blanks (Pheno­lic foam), a great in­no­va­tion to boost per­for­mance in Aus­tralian pro­fes­sional surf­ing. I was able to man­u­fac­ture su­per light­weight boards to com­pete in the

var­i­ous pro events of the small wave era at the be­gin­nings of the World Tour as we know it to­day. The ul­tra­light foam came at a cost how­ever; it was dif­fi­cult to pro­duce due to less chem­i­cals and less ex­pan­sion pres­sure re­sult­ing in soft spots, shrink­ing foam and big cell struc­ture. The suc­cess rate was al­most com­mer­cially un­vi­able and re­la­tion­ships be­tween board­mak­ers and Midget were tested, but he per­se­vered to our ben­e­fit. In Oc­to­ber 1980, Surf­blanks cut out the first thruster fins for me and in gen­eral Midget and Surf­blanks helped board­mak­ers through­out the in­dus­try, do­mes­ti­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally, in our ef­forts to pro­duce top qual­ity surf­ing equip­ment. In re­cent times I’ve seen and heard Midget at var­i­ous surf­ing func­tions, he was a great or­a­tor and am­bas­sador for his era and our sport.

My en­dur­ing mem­ory of Midget will be shar­ing a wave with him at big South Avalon a few years back. He would have been late 60s, the surf was solid, I was late 50s. It was at the edge of my ca­pa­bil­i­ties, I was im­pressed he was out there. We pad­dled into a good sized set wave to­gether and traded turns on the face. At the end of the wave we pulled out to­gether with big smiles.


1990 World Cham­pion Midget didn’t seem wor­ried about ex­pec­ta­tions and got the same level of en­joy­ment off other peo­ple’s ex­pe­ri­ences in the surf as much as his own. In that sense be was a very gen­er­ous surfer, he en­joyed that as­pect of shar­ing, rather than the more self­ish ways of surf­ing. He shared waves and also his knowl­edge. He was a real pres­ence at Queen­scliff. He was there ev­ery morn­ing for a while. Be­cause my hus­band Mark Rab­bidge makes surf­boards, I would of­ten be tasked with pick­ing up blanks or (god for­bid) re­turn one. That would be the scary Midget if you had to have that dis­cus­sion about how your ul­tra su­perlight blank had some­how shrunk.

Surf­ing is he­do­nis­tic fun. Our at­tach­ment to the ocean makes us feel bet­ter. You pur­sue it too much, it be­comes more of a curse, and then there’s this other way of try­ing to give it away and you get a dif­fer­ent kind of en­joy­ment from the ocean.

I felt that sense of pride, that con­nec­tion to Manly Beach, where he and Phyl­lis O’don­nel won their World Ti­tles. An­niver­saries may sound corny, but you get that con­nec­tion to the past. It helps to dig those roots into you. Those iconic shots of him dur­ing the World Ti­tle gave me a sense of own­er­ship to them some­how. I felt con­nected. I had my first waves surf­ing Mid Steyne and North Steyne. It was some­thing you felt a part of in some way.


For­mer SW Edi­tor, Pho­tog­ra­pher, Artist A mat­ter of weeks ago, as I changed for a surf at the reg­u­lar haunt, a cyclist ap­peared out of the age­less head­land back­drop on a north south loop. Clad head to foot in black he cruised the de­serted bot­tom carpark obliv­i­ous to a chill Pittwa­ter off­shore. I glanced up as he drew abreast and recog­nised a fa­mil­iar pro­file. Bernie the beak. “Hey Midget!” He passed by and, as if in thought, quite a way down the hill, made what could be de­scribed as a de­fin­i­tive state­ment: “Hugh” and was gone. An en­counter mildly amus­ing at the time now takes on a cer­tain grav­ity. I can’t claim to be any­thing but an ac­quain­tance. Pro­fes­sion­ally I de­signed ads and the Surf­blanks logo for Midget. My first SW de­sign in ’73 in­cluded a Far­relly glass­ing tu­to­rial. He lived where I surf so I al­ways caught glimpses. A wave, a few words, even the oc­ca­sional know­ing nod.

Midget’s as­pi­ra­tions for surf­ing seemed to be fu­elled by an al­most un­re­al­is­tic pu­rity, but this vi­sion was founded on match­less ex­pe­ri­ence. He was both charm­ing and blunt, elo­quent while tak­ing sar­casm to a high art. A crafts­man, in­no­va­tor and stylist. A pro­tag­o­nist who couldn’t let per­ceived in­jus­tice lie un­fried. What more can I say? The bloke was a one-off, a true in­di­vid­ual and a cham­pion. I hope he’s at peace.


Big Wave Pi­o­neer This is how I met Midget, I was 13 years old, and I was en­ter­ing the ju­nior men Makaha In­ter­na­tional Cham­pi­onships in 1963. The big deal guy at that point, be­sides Buf­falo Keaulana, was Midget Far­relly. In those years the news­pa­per was car­ry­ing a heavy coverage on the Cham­pi­onship. Al­though it wasn’t an of­fi­cial world ti­tle,

every­body kind of felt that the Makaha In­ter­na­tional was the big­gest con­test in the world and who­ever won it was ac­tu­ally world champ. Me and my brother surfed in the ju­nior mens and the big deal on the beach was Midget Far­relly. Be­ing a kid, and never meet­ing the guy, he was al­ready a gi­gan­tic hero to me and Ed­die. And me be­ing so young, I thought he was ac­tu­ally a midget. I ex­pected to see a midget surfer. But we didn’t.

We didn’t re­ally get to spend time with Midget un­til the North Shore, at the Duke Surf­ing Clas­sic when the ma­jor in­flux came with Rab­bit Bartholomew and Ian Cairns and those guys. Midget was be­fore all of them, and had been com­ing to the North Shore for a num­ber of years. No mat­ter what, Midget was al­ways a re­ally nice per­son to Ed­die and I and my fam­ily. I loved the guy. He and his wife were al­ways won­der­ful peo­ple to me and my fam­ily. Years later we had trav­elled all over Europe, France, Ja­pan, and every­time I saw Midget he was al­ways a nice per­son to us, no mat­ter who he was with. He was al­ways such a hum­ble per­son. His surf­ing was ex­cel­lent, we re­ally en­joyed surf­ing with him, watch­ing him surf.

For me per­son­ally, me and my fam­ily are very home­grown, down to the ba­sics of life and ba­sics of peo­ple, and think it’s just out­stand­ing when a fa­mous World Cham­pion like Midget, with all the me­dia coverage that he re­ceived, he never for­got to say hi to Ed­die and me. To tell you the truth, I love those guys, and I miss those years. We had good times, when it was ours. At this stage in life, for me and I guess a lot of guys our age, like Midget, is just to share our knowl­edge that we have with the younger peo­ple and hop­ing that they will want to know and want to lis­ten be­cause I feel that I can con­trib­ute to a lot of the younger guys’ lives. The things me and Ed­die did in our lives, and what I want to share with them, can make them a bet­ter per­son right now, to­day and not 10 years later. There’s al­ways go­ing to be an­other world cham­pion and there’s al­ways go­ing to be some­body who will ride a big­ger wave than you. When it’s all said and done, I swear, it’s go­ing to be the guys who were true to their heart, and true to their surf­ing and their pas­sion that will al­ways have that gi­gan­tic re­spect. Hawai­ians say ‘high’ as Maka maka. Good luck to those peo­ple. God bless you Midget. Ride the long wave with Ed­die Aikau up there.


2x Long­board World Cham­pion Midget be­gan the legacy of Aus­tralian world cham­pi­ons. He was a mas­sive in­flu­ence for me. His style is some­thing peo­ple still try to emu­late now, many decades later, and that alone is a credit to how good he re­ally was.


Free­wheelin’ Shaper, In­no­va­tor Midget and I knew each other a long time. We had a lot of par­al­lels in our lives, with shap­ing, surf­ing and also get­ting in­volved in pad­dle board­ing and surf club boats. He told

me noth­ing felt as great in surf­ing as tak­ing off on a big wave in a surf boat, steer­ing down the face look­ing at the wild ex­pres­sions on the crews faces!


Pub­lisher Switch­foot and Ho­ Ever wary of the ‘surf­ing me­dia’ that had turned on him in the late 1960s, Midget was the in­ter­view you couldn’t quite get, even if you were com­pil­ing a pseudo anti-cor­po­rate, anti-surf me­dia book that was en­tirely in­de­pen­dent. Switch­foot was a big up yours to surf­ing me­dia of the era, but it was surf me­dia all the same and Midget didn’t want to par­take. Know­ingly.

Af­ter the suc­cess of book one in 2005, I did speak to Midget and he was quite im­pressed with the book, aware of the chal­lenges of self-pub­lish­ing and at least happy that he’d con­trib­uted a quote to the Peter Drouyn chronol­ogy. It took an­other four years of pes­ter­ing. “We can tell your REAL story, like I did with Drouyn. No edit­ing from the cor­po­rate surf ma­chine. No in­flu­ence from the surf me­dia mafia, you can see it in print and sign off on it be­fore it goes out!’ These were the cries I was mak­ing from the hills of By­ron and in 2008 Midget fi­nally agreed to talk.

I flew down to Syd­ney and be­gan the nav­i­ga­tion to­wards Midget’s Surf­blanks busi­ness, our ap­point­ment be­ing at 11am. My mind was go­ing a mil­lion miles an hour at the thought of fi­nally get­ting his story on tape and putting some pop­u­lar myths to rest, but I was also ner­vous be­cause, well, it was Midget and I was a huge fan of his surf­ing. Who wasn’t? My as­pi­ra­tions (per­haps delu­sions) came crash­ing to the floor when I sat in front of Midget and he told me “I am sorry An­drew, but I have changed my mind and I can’t do your in­ter­view.” I was gut­ted. Where would all the ob­scu­ri­ties and un­known sto­ries that Midget was hold­ing go if not into the pages on an in­de­pen­dent, self­funded book? At that mo­ment I hon­estly felt like they might be lost to surf­ing for­ever.

Sev­eral years later Midget and I be­gan com­mu­ni­cat­ing again, mostly over email, with the oc­ca­sional long phone con­ver­sa­tion. If I had a surf­ing project I was work­ing on, he would al­ways dis­cuss his knowl­edge of his­tory and was ex­tremely help­ful, yet guarded. Al­ways guarded. Un­der­stand­ably guarded.

The day af­ter Midget died Wayne Lynch rang me and said, “Thanks for let­ting me say what I said about Midget in your third book, to know that he read it and know that he knew that be­fore he died, that is price­less to me.” Price­less to me too.


7x World Cham­pion It was a truly defin­ing mo­ment in surf­ing his­tory when two young Aus­tralians be­came the first ever World Surf­ing Cham­pi­ons, paving the way for many of us who are chasing the same dream to­day. Midget will al­ways be an in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant char­ac­ter in the his­tory of surf­ing, an icon Aus­tralian surfers well never for­get! Rest in Peace Mr Far­relly.


Fi­nal­ist ’64 World Cham­pi­onships, Manly Midget could ride the nose so well. He knew how to per­form on a long­board. He was very el­e­gant. In those years, Phil Ed­wards was con­sid­ered one of Cal­i­for­nia’s lead­ing stylists, and he taught a lot of the younger guys how to re­ally ride nose and per­form. He set a stan­dard that was un­be­liev­able, and Midget was there too in this era, com­ing from Aus­tralia. At the time ev­ery­one was buy­ing in to how to use a long­board all around. Not only in noserid­ing and per­form­ing in smaller waves, but in big­ger waves too.

In Hawaii when we started surf­ing we didn’t have a drop in sit­u­a­tion. Guys al­ways rode on the out­side of younger kids com­ing up, and it drove us into the white­wa­ter to see if we could get out of it and make the wave. That’s just how it was done in Hawaii and I think it fi­nally changed in these in­ter­na­tional con­tests, be­cause the judges wouldn’t al­low it. I did that to Midget maybe once or twice. Maybe I didn’t think he was go­ing to make the wave, but the 1964 World Cham­pi­onships turned my senses around. It was about time too, it was a good thing, be­cause ob­vi­ously that’s the right way to go, but we were do­ing it in Hawaii for years and years, for 20 years of my early life. It be­came the new stan­dard for surf­ing around the world and that was a win in it­self. At Manly, I re­call per­fect noserid­ing con­di­tions for the pre­lim­i­nary rounds. Two to three feet and very clean. The fi­nal I think it got a lit­tle on­shore and turned into more typ­i­cal Manly con­di­tions. But it was re­ally clean on that first day or two.

Af­ter the con­test, I was taken up north and went by all the surf breaks all the way to By­ron Bay, right through An­gourie.

There are so many of my con­tem­po­raries who have passed away, it’s so sad. Midget was there for one of the ear­li­est waves of surf­ing and I was there too. I grew up on Waikiki Beach surf­ing in the ’40s. Most any­one who came to Hawaii passed by where I was. It was a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence to see the whole evo­lu­tion take place. I was rid­ing a red­wood board with a vee tail and no fins, and that’s how it all started out.

All I can say is Midget was the man, with his abil­ity to surf there’s no doubt about it. He owned it in his coun­try and his time, and he came to Hawaii, to Makaha and proved it. He de­serves all the credit he got.


Fi­nal­ist ’65 World Cham­pi­onships, Peru Midget made me a board for Hawaii, back when he had the fac­tory in Palmy. I paid 52 pounds for it. I told him I was go­ing to the North Shore and he said to me, “Ok I’ll make you a board for Sunset.” It was 10’6’’. I surfed it in Hawaii for two months, and that’s the board I took to the World Ti­tles in Peru, which was held at Punta Ro­cas in Lima in 1965. I mde the fi­nals. Midget seemed rest­less around this time. He was bor­row­ing ev­ery­one’s boards, and even bor­rowed the board he made for me. Every­time I’d look to the wa­ter at Mira Flores, where we were stay­ing, he was out there, right in front of Club Waikiki. He was ob­vi­ously dis­sat­is­fied in some way, as if he was try­ing to find the se­cret of the per­fect board. He was al­ways search­ing for ways to im­prove. He was very much fo­cussed on per­for­mance. Midget trav­elled dif­fer­ently too, he never ran with a big pack of surfers as far as I know, but when you spoke with him you in­stantly wanted to be around him. It was like be­ing amongst roy­alty, as if some­body in­tro­duced you to the King of Eng­land. He was very worldly, and I al­ways had re­mark­able re­spect for the man. He was in­cred­i­ble.


Mas­ter Crafts­man, In­no­va­tor In the very early days be­fore pro surf­ing, I re­mem­ber sit­ting around with my club mates from the North Narrabeen Board Riders Club shoot­ing the breeze and dis­cussing what it would be like if we could be paid to do what we most loved to do - surf. I talked to Midget about it on one of our trips down to the Bells Beach Easter Clas­sic. He would al­ways say, ‘No. Surf­ing’s about hav­ing fun, not about mak­ing money.’ He was a purist at heart. On one of our first trips to Hawaii with Midget in the early 70s, I was im­me­di­ately made aware of just how much re­spect the Hawai­ians had for him, not only as a surfer but as a de­cent hu­man be­ing. His rep­u­ta­tion pro­ceeded him, and wher­ever I went I was made to feel wel­come thanks to Midget’s am­bas­sador­ship for Aus­tralia. To this day, his in­flu­ence on surf­ing through­out the world is as strong as it was when I was a young man watch­ing him in the boat­shed in Palm Beach all those years ago. His im­pact, con­tri­bu­tion and aura lives on for­ever.


11x World Cham­pion Midget was an Aus­tralian icon. Most of what I knew about him was just per­son­ally spend­ing bits of time here and there. He was al­ways friendly and happy to talk about waves and boards with me. I en­joyed his com­pany and only wished I had known him bet­ter. I’m sur­prised and deeply sad­dened by his pass­ing, as is ev­ery­one else. Thanks for let­ting me share a few words.

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