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“Midget” Farrelly, surfing’s first world champion, dies at 71

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Midget Farrelly: the lone surfer | Photo: Leroy Grannis

Bernard “Midget” Farrelly, the first world surfing champion, passed away aged 71 after battling cancer for several years.

Farrelly was born in Sydney, in 1944, and began surfing when he was only six years old. In the 1960s, “Midget” dominated the competitive scene. He won the 1962 Makaha International Surfing Championships.

At 5’8” and 145 pounds, Bernard was the elegant surfer the world needed at the time. In 1964 and 1965, he conquered the Australian National Surfing Titles, and he was a key personality in the launch of the International Surfing Federation.

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