SURF­ING IS FREE­DOM

Surfing World - - Contents - Bar­ton Lynch, 1988 World Cham­pion

Midget walked some fine lines over the years. He grew up in a very con­ser­va­tive, An­glo Saxon cul­ture re­ally, as Aus­tralia was in the six­ties. Now, it’s quite easy be­ing in­di­vid­ual be­cause peo­ple re­spect peo­ple. But back then there was a lot of pres­sure from ei­ther side of that de­bate, and he threaded a pretty cool line through it.

It’s be­cause he wasn’t in the clique with the me­dia push of the time. Dur­ing that whole Morn­ing of The Earth gen­er­a­tion the whole thing be­came pop­u­lar cul­ture. His surf­ing rep­u­ta­tion was dis­cred­ited and tar­nished. I don’t feel that he ever got the recog­ni­tion for the surf­ing per­for­mance that he had achieved. I’ve al­ways had my things with the in­dus­try and the me­dia, and the way they play their favourites and their game too. I can al­most un­der­stand why he was how he was, why he was with­drawn from it all, be­cause he didn’t have re­spect for it. I felt like I earnt his trust. At first he didn’t trust me, there was al­ways that stand­off­ish thing. But in the last 10 years I felt him open his arms and open up and tell me things. I’ve quite a few of those surfs where I’ve got to share those real pri­vate times and he and I would sit out the back, and I’d ask ques­tions, be­cause I’m in­quis­i­tive about my cul­ture, and what it is. I feel like I was priv­i­leged to get this inside view. That’s how I kind of un­der­stand that con­cept of the counter-cul­ture and its in­flu­ence on our sport, and how he felt about that. You’d ask him a ques­tion and he’d never an­swer it right away. There’d be this mo­ment of con­tem­pla­tion, he’d stop and you’d see him think and then he would give it to you. He was al­ways sort of de­lib­er­ate and con­trolled and con­sid­ered in his de­liv­ery of things. Nick Car­roll once asked Midget what surf­ing was, and Nick said that he stopped, and had that pro­fes­sor Midget look on his face and then said, “It’s free­dom. It’s free­dom to live out­side of other peo­ple’s ideas.”

The fact that he won ’64, tied for first in ’68 and got sec­ond on a count­back to Fred Hem­mings and got sec­ond in ’70, against the tide of pop­u­lar cul­ture, shows how amaz­ing his surf­ing per­for­mance was.

I don’t think he knew how re­spected he was, and how much peo­ple re­ally thought of him, be­cause it’s re­ally pulled it out of peo­ple, his pass­ing. He had a vi­sion of what his surf­ing should be and could be. And right to the very end he was push­ing for that to be his re­al­ity. Right to the end, he was get­ting out of that hos­pi­tal and he was go­ing surf­ing mate.

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