Midget Farrelly, patriarch of modern Australian surfing, at the 1966 World Championships in San Diego. Photo: Tom Keck

Midget Farrelly, the patriarch of modern Australian surfing, at the 1966 World Championships in San Diego. Photo: Tom Keck

It’s with a heavy heart that we report the passing of Bernard “Midget” Farrelly, the father of modern Australian surfing and the winner of the inaugural World Surfing Championships in 1964. He reportedly passed away from stomach cancer.

Farrelly was born in 1944 in Sydney and learned to surf at age 6. In 1962, at 18 years old, Farrelly won the Makaha International and was received as a national sports hero when he returned home to Australia. He continued to be one of the best competitive surfers in the world until the end of the 1960s, and appeared in over a dozen surf movies, including The Young Wave Hunters (1964), To Ride a White Horse (1968), and Pacific Vibrations (1970).

The graceful and ever-elegant Farrelly helped establish the International Surfing Federation. In 1965, he founded Farrelly Surfboards and, in the following years, manufactured some of the most progressive boards for the time. In 1972 he founded the Sydney-based Surfblanks manufacturing company.

Read more about Farrelly’s influence on the world of surfing here.