Surfing legends such as Kelly Slater, Layne Beachley and Tom Carroll are campaigning to erect a statue of Australia’s late first world surfing champion Bernard “Midget” Farrelly in Palm Beach.
Former Quicksilver chief executive Bruce Raymond said Farrelly’s legacy, which included winning the first official World Surfing Championship at Manly Beach in 1964, should be enshrined on the northern beaches.
“We have the very first surfing world champion right here in our backyard,” Raymond said. He remembers going down to the shore at the age of 10, alongside 60,000 people, to watch Farrelly win the first world title, which he says had a big influence on him.
The plan has the support of Farrelly’s family, including his widow Beverlie.
The statue, which mirrors a famous photo taken during the 1964 World Surfing Championship, is said to depict Farrelly surfing with his hands up, an image that encapsulates his fluidity, style and grace. It would be placed in the Palm Beach Plaza, with a fundraising goal of $150,000 to bring it to life.
On Friday morning, a group of Carnations took to the Palm Beach waves with Carroll despite windy, below-normal surf conditions. Standing in his jumpsuit, Carroll said The Herald of the Sun that as a young boy himself he had pictures of Farrelly in his Bible, and that the surfing legend stuck with him.
“There was beauty in his approach and his unwavering commitment to the life of a surfer,” he said.
Farrelly also left a lasting legacy on Australian surf style, especially among women. “Today there is a whole movement of surfers who are surfing in the style that Midget represented,” Raymond said. “A lot of these surfers are actually female because it takes grace rather than raw power.”