In 1964 Bernard ‘Midget’ Farrelly (NSW) won the World Mens Title at the first World Surfing Championships held at Manly Beach NSW. Midget won from Californians Mike Doyle & Joey Cabell.
Photo: 1964 Midget surfing Manly on his way to winning World Mens Surfing Title. Photo courtesy of Keith Campbell (former WASRA President).
In 1968 former Australian world surfing champion ‘Midget’ Farrelly was invited to WA to compete in a special Invitational Event held in conjunction with the State Championships at Yallingup on the LWE in March 1968.
The field for WA’s Invitational event included Midget, prominent WA surfer Terry Jacks, former South Australian Barry Young and representatives from most states.
Image: 1968 Midget arriving at Perth Airport for the Invitational event. Newspaper image courtesy of the Daily News.
There was a big crowd in attendance to watch Midget surf at Yallingup. He bought rounded pintail surfboards to the event and WA surfers saw the new design from the East Coast for the first time. It introduced another advance in WA surfboard design.
Photos: 1968 Yalls Midget Farrelly & spectators at the Invitational Event. Photos courtesy of Sally Jones (nee Gunter).
Top: (Left) Midget with WASRA President Ron ‘Doc’ Naylor. (Right) Midget descending steps to the beach.
Bottom: (Left) Midget heading out to surf in Invitational event. (Right) Midget returning to the beach with his rounded pintail surfboard.
The invitational event was held in sunny offshore conditions at Yallingup. Midge rode the lefts in his smooth controlled style. Terry Jacks was frothing and went for it. At the conclusion of the event many spectators thought Terry had won the event, but Midge’s name was already engraved on the trophy and that was that!
Some of Terry’s supporters kicked up a bit of dust, but it was in vain.
Images: 1968 Midget Farrelly at the Invitational event. Still frame images courtesy of City Beach Surf Riders Super 8 movie film.
Image: 1968 Terry Jacks surfing in the Invitational event. Newspaper image courtesy of the Daily News.
COMMENTS ON INVITATIONAL EVENT
Peter ‘Spook’ Bothwell – Midget had just got back from Hawaii and was full of stories about Joey Cabell and his pintails.
Barry ‘Baz’ Young – Besides me, for the Invitational, another surfer from interstate was Alex Chobinoff (NSW) who had been here for 6 months roughly like myself. I placed third in that Invitational as well as coming 2nd to Spook in the State Titles. It was pretty small that day and I gambled and surfed the ‘Bunbury Break’, which was named because of the crew of Bunbury surfers who surfed it more than most. It’s now known as “The Cove”. Whilst Midget and the other 4 competitors hassled each other at Main Break I got a little lucky where I was.
When Midget arrived for the contest and pulled 4 Pintails out of his car we were all flabbergasted. The Press on what was happening design wise over East was very limited and I’m pretty sure no one had heard about boards that had pointed tails. It seemed weird to have a tail shape that looked the same as the nose. There was a lot of disbelief and almost jeering as he walked past the big crowds lining the steps and beach with one of these strange designs under his arm on the way to the water. I think he thought about not staying for the Invitational, but the WASRA contest directors talked him around and tuned a few crew to keep their opinions to themselves for the rest of the weekend.
I have been surfing in the Maldives twice now in recent years, at the same time as Midget and his wife, and he still surfs pretty good for age 71.
Photo: 2015 Former WA Surfboard Manufacturer Tom Blaxell with 1964 World Surfing Champ Midget Farrelly in the Maldives. Photo courtesy of Tom Blaxell.
In 2001 Surfing WA made a presentation to Midget Farrelly at Yallingup Beach.
Photos: (Left) 2001 montage presentation to Midget at Yalls designed by Quindalup’s Loz Smith. (Right) 2006 Midget & Loz Smith at Jack Egan photo exhibition held at Vasse Felix Winery.
1968 STATE SURFING CHAMPIONSHIPS HELD AT YALLINGUP.
The state championships were held in good offshore conditions at Yallingup over the March long weekend. Members of most WA Board Clubs competed in the Titles. Finalists in the divisions went onto represent WA at the National Surfing Titles held in NSW in May 1968.
Editor’s Note – A month after the State Titles finalist Arty Sherburn nearly died when he was stung by a blue bottle jellyfish while surfing at Cottesloe. He was unable to take his place in the WA State Team and compete in the ’68 National Titles in NSW.
Images: (Left) 1968 Cover of WASRA program. (Right) Preview of State Titles at Yalls. Images courtesy of WASRA & the Daily News.
Images: 1968 State Surfing Titles at Yalls. Images courtesy of the Daily News & Trevor Burslem.
(Left) Media preview of the WA Titles. (Right) Jim King competing in Open Division.
Peter ‘Spook’ Bothwell (age 19 years) from Sand n Sea board club won the Open Mens. Competing in 6ft surf Spook beat former South Australian Barry Young and Arty Sherburn the Southern Surfriders champion. Surprisingly, John Balgarnie & 1966 champion John Staley were eliminated in the semi-finals.
Ian Cairns from Southern Surfriders was the outstanding junior surfer & won the Junior Title from Phil Taylor & Ian ‘Moochie‘ Strongman.
Dave Williams won the Senior Title.
Maureen Farrell won the Womens Title.
Images: 1968 State Surfing Titles at Yalls.
(Left) Media review of the WA Titles courtesy of WA Newspapers.
(Right) Contest spectators & judges scaffolding on the beach. Photo Jim King.
COMMENTS ON STATE SURFING TITLES
Peter ‘Spook’ Bothwell – The 67 titles were when I thought I could win and was surfing at my peak. I didn’t get out of my heat, John Staley went on to win. In 68 I was over it (the competitive hype) and more relaxed. I thought John Staley was surfing good enough to win in 68, but he got over anxious like I did in 67 and was knocked out. My other memory was that everyone who surfed went in it. A bit like a festival.
I next went into a state contest in 76, after not surfing much for a few years and the crowd and competitive crew numbered about fifty. The atmosphere had changed, still seriously competitive, but the wider social interest went for a time.
Barry ‘Baz’ Young – It was borderline whether I was eligible to compete in the main event (State Titles) because you had to have been living in WA for 6 months and I got Arty Sherburn and John Staley to say I had been here that long, but I think I was about a week short.
I had been called up for National Service and came to the West to surf as much as possible before going in. I ended up doing my Draft medical in Bunbury, and swallowed silver foil in the hope it would show up as a spot on my lung (it had worked in the Big Wednesday movie) but they never remarked on it. What they did notice was my very large surf bumps on my feet. I had gone to the medical in suede Desert Boots, which were the rage at the time and they asked me if I could wear leather boots, and I said I doubt it, so they got me to try a pair on, and I faked pain enough that they didn’t sign me up….relief! We had been losing about 3 or 4 soldiers a day in different skirmishes in Vietnam and I didn’t want to be part of it. I remember I hitched back to Yallingup and went out and had just the best surf. A big weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
With a big LWE crowd in attendance it was not surprising that some anti-social behaviour occurred at Caves House pub on the Saturday Night.
Image: 1968 Media report on an alleged brawl at Caves House pub. Newspaper cutting courtesy of the daily News.
A fun long weekend surfing & socialising in the South West was had by all.