‘Mileage makes Champions’ – New Edition of Steve Fairbairn on Rowing

The master himself, Coach Steve Fairbairn.

Göran R Buckhorn writes:

Last year around this time, Rowperfect UK made the first volume of four available of a new edition of On Rowing by Steve Fairbairn, now as an eBook, which we wrote about on HTBS earlier this year – take a look here. In November, Rowperfect UK released the rest of the three volumes (as a matter of fact, the 2014 first volume is updated and corrected compared to the 2013 ‘edition’). All the volumes can be bought separately or as a four-volume set on Amazon and for a much better deal then if you would try to find the printed edition on Amazon, Abebooks, or at an antiquarian bookseller, where a fairly good copy of the Complete Steve Fairbairn on Rowing can be purchased for between $200 and $2,000.

This eBook edition comes with rowing historian Peter Mallory’s notes and introduction (the other two editions had introductions by Steve Fairbairn’s son, Ian – the 1st edition of 1951 – and Geoffrey Page – the 2nd edition of 1990). Mallory writes in a press release that for the first time spelling and punctuation have been standardised, typos eliminated and factual corrections made throughout Fairbairn’s writings. The original illustrations have been reformatted and new ones have been added.

Peter Mallory
Peter Mallory

Other updates and additions in Mallory’s edition that I personally appreciate are the notes on the different persons that Fairbairn mentions in his texts. The master coach was a real name-dropper and thanks to Mallory’s notes we now know more about the characters Fairbairn ‘dropped’ in his books. To mention a few: Freddy Brittain, Fairbairn’s loyal friend and confidante; Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, or ‘Q’, professor at Jesus College; criketeers W.G. Grace and Jack Blackham; oarsmen Stanley ‘Muttle’ Muttelbury, Arthur ‘Old Hutch’ Hutchinson, Bill East, Bill Beach and many, many more. What Mallory has included in his omnibus, which Ian Fairbairn and Geoffrey Page omitted in theirs, is Steve Fairbairn’s 1931 entertaining autobiography Fairbairn of Jesus, which is a bit fragmented but still highly readable. Mallory has also added Reginald ‘Havvy’ de Havilland’s 1913 pamphlet Elements of Rowing, which is about the rowing style that Fairbairn constantly rebuked in his books, the so-called English orthodox style and whose proponents constantly attacked Fairbairn for teaching a ‘sloppy style’.

Both Fairbairn and Mallory prove in these four volumes that ‘Fairbairnism’ still matters today, so whether you are a rower or a rowing coach you will learn valuable skills, how to move a boat – and how to be a man or a woman.

Here is the Table of Contents for the four volumes:

Volume I
“The Oarsman’s Song”, a poem
Jesus College Boat Club Rowing Notes (1904)
Elements of Rowing (1913), by ‘Havvy’ de Havilland
Rowing Notes (1926)

Volume II
Slowly Forward (1929)
Some Secrets of Successful Rowing (1930)

Volume III
Fairbairn of Jesus (1931)

Volume IV
Chats on Rowing (1934)
Rowing in Nutshell (1936)
Don’t Exaggerate (1936)
The Endless Chain Movement (1937)
Obituary (1938), by Freddy Brittain

Let me raise my hat and bow in admiration towards those who made this cultural achievement possible: Diana Cook of Richard Way Booksellers in Henley-on-Thames, who came up with the idea to reissue Steve Fairbairn’s writing this way; Rebecca Caroe of Rowperfect UK, who is the publisher of these four volumes; Jonathan Lewis, the expert who made the transition from printed book to eBook; Peter Mallory, editor of the Fairbairn series; and to Susan Mallory, wife of Peter, who allowed him the time to do all the work.

Order your eBook/Kindle edition from Amazon here.

Mallory has, indeed, been a very busy man, as he also at the end of November this year published the third edition of his memories An Out-Of-The-Boat Experience … Or God Is A Rower, And He Rows Like Me! The third edition (previous editions came out in 2000 and 2002) is also an eBook published by Rowperfect UK. According to Mallory this edition is ‘new and improved’, and you can order it from Amazon, here.

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