Surfing legends including Kelly Slater, Layne Beachley and Tom Carroll are campaigning to erect a statue of the late inaugural Australian world surfing champion Bernard “Midget” Farrelly in Palm Beach.

Former Quicksilver chief executive Bruce Raymond said Farrelly’s legacy – which included taking out the first official World Surfing Championship at Manly Beach in 1986, needed to be enshrined on the northern beaches.

Surfing legends are campaigning for a statue to honour Midget Farrelly. Credit:HISTORIC HOUSES TRUST OF NEW SOUTH WALES/Artists Impression: Gillies and Marc

“We have the first-ever world surfing champion right here in our backyard,” Raymond said. He recalled going down to the shore as a 10-year-old, alongside 60,000 people, to watch Farrelly win the first world title, which he said 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, would depict Farrelly surfing with his hands in the air, an image that encapsulates his fluidity, style and grace. It would be placed in the Palm Beach Plaza, with a $150,000 fundraising target to bring it to life.

Australian former professional surfer Tom Carroll with grommets he teaches every Friday morning.

Australian former professional surfer Tom Carroll with grommets he teaches every Friday morning.Credit:Brook Mitchell

On Friday morning, a group of grommets took to the waves of Palm Beach with Carroll despite the windy and sub par surf conditions. Standing in his wetsuit, Carroll told The Sun-Herald that as a young boy himself, he had photos of Farrelly in his Bible, and that the surfing legend left a mark on him.

“There was a beauty in his approach and his unwavering commitment to the life of a surfer,” he said.

Farrelly also left a lasting legacy on surfing style in Australia, especially among women. “Today there’s a whole movement of surfers who are surfing in the style that Midget represented,” Raymond said. “A lot of those surfers are actually female because it takes grace as opposed to brute power.”

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