15 August 2016

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surfing’s trailblazing champions “[The show] showed him sailing a catamaran and surfing with such style, precision and grace and then went on to showcase what was happening here and around the world in surfing,� Bainbridge recalled last week. “It opened my eyes to what was out there; why didn’t I live on Sydney’s northern beaches instead of Noble Park?� Bainbridge recalls “being in awe� when he eventually saw Farrelly at Bells Beach near Torquay in 1967. Seven years later they met in person when Bainbridge and then business partner Harry Hodge (later to become an executive with Quiksilver) were in Sydney picking up surfboards for the recently opened shop in Nepean Highway, Frankston. “He was fun; he was an old guy – 30 - and still skateboarded. He enjoyed making surfboards, he drove a Kombi, he enjoyed a beer and he could still surf rings around most of the young guys in the water,� Bainbridge said. Farrelly and his wife Bev came to Victoria the following year and attended one of the Peninsula Boardriders Club’s notorious “band nights� at Morning Star. The association between Bainbridge and Farrelly also included the former world champ advertising his company Surfblanks in the Frankston-based surf magazine, Breakway. The magazine was published by Bainbridge, Tony Murrell (later a director of the Independent News Group of newspapers) and this writer. On one trip to Sydney Bainbridge and myself stayed overnight at Farrelly’s

house where, over dinner, he told about advising Victorian surfer Wayne Lynch not to rely on jam sandwiches for nutrition. Bainbridge’s friendship with Farrelly saw him come to Rye in1992 to open a new Peninsula Surf store. Paul Trigger also remembers the sincerity that came across during Farrelly’s show on the ABC which, in part, explains his lasting anger at some members of the surfing community who turned their backs on Farrelly because of his publicly expressed anti-drugs stance. “In a lot of ways Midget probably set things up to make surfing what it is today,� Trigger says. “But a lot of things that came out in the [Sydney-based] magazines were kind of disappointing. They made out that it was cool to do drugs, applauded surfers who took drugs and portrayed Midget as a square.� Trigger believes Farrelly would have won the first professional surfing titles at Bells Beach in 1973 “if the competition had been judged differently�. Farrelly came second to Michael Peterson, but also in the lineup for that contest were Ian Cairns and Terry Fitzgerald. Trigger, one of the judges, speaks as if the contest was yesterday: “The surf had dropped back from about 10 foot to six or eight in the final round. Midget had got a bit sick and Peterson was surfing on the shoulder. He was doing all these maneuvers while Midget was riding deeper, but they were getting the same scores [because of wave size].� Trigger said Peterson had a copy of the competition format on the dash-

board of his car and knew what points would be awarded for each maneuver. During that contest Farrelly opened his Kombi to show Trigger his quiver of boards. “He was such a pro. They were all yellow, all had swallow tails and ranged incrementally in length from six foot three inches to eight foot,� Trigger says. His earliest memory of Farrelly was also near Torquay, in 1965, when he and Phil were driven there by their elder brother, Peter. There were “probably all the best surfers in Australia� at Fishos Beach. “It was the best mal surfing you could have seen and Midget was riding the first stringer-less board we’d seen,� Paul trigger says. “There were up to 100 of us in the car park watching, no one else was going out. “Midget was also a master shaper, but he didn’t get the credit – he wasn’t pumped up by the magazines.� Trigger remembers watching as Farrelly – talking to himself as he shaped a board – “don’t you like the way Midget does these rails�. “He started work at 15, but was very smart and could have been a civil engineer. He made and flew hang gliders,� Trigger says. “Once, when I was in a contest at Long Beach in Sydney, he was flying around on the other side of the headland.� Phil Trigger once stayed a few nights at the Farrelly household only to discover that his host rushed home every night to watch Doctor Who. Paul Trigger: “And that’s who Midget was, not unlike a Doctor Who character himself.�

Hide and seek

THE bird hide at Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands has been refurbished and reopened thanks to a $20,000 federal government grant. The Friends of the Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands have been lobbying for the past few years to have the bird hide restored. The bird hide is a two-story building that offers an excellent view of the wetlands to seek out wildlife. It is located on the south side of Edithvale Rd and is open from 1-5pm on Saturdays and Sundays. It is manned by volunteers from the Friends of Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands. New view: Rianna, left, and Katelyn Green from Frankston enjoy the view from the refurbished Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands bird hide. Far right top, a teal duckling and below, a magpie goose. Pictures: Gary Sissons

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15 August 2016