Coaching Team

Thames is always looking for enthusiastic volunteers to work with and support our professional coaches.  If you are interested in volunteering at Thames please contact the captain at for further information.

Men’s head coach

Ben Lewis

Ben lewisBen has been involved in rowing for over 20 years. Since 1998 he has been involved in 19 Henley Royal Regatta finals, winning 11 of them. He won the Ladies’ Plate and competed in five other finals as a rower; as a coach victories have included five Thames Cup wins, one Britannia Cup win, a win in the Ladies’ Plate and one in the Visitors’ Challenge Cup. He has represented GB as a rower and developed athletes to gain selection for the senior and U23 teams as well as coaching the GB U23 4+ to a bronze medal in 2010.

Before Thames Rowing Club his coaching in the UK focused around three main clubs: Oxford Brookes, Leander and Molesey. Both Brookes and Leander asked him to come back as a coach after competing as an athlete. When not at these three centres Ben coached Williams College, Massachusetts, for two years as Freshman Coach and one year as the interim Head Coach. In the 2008/09 season they won the Head of the Charles and the New England Championships for the first time in over a decade under his guidance.

Ben’s main roles at Thames Rowing Club are coaching and advising volunteer coaches to ensure that Thames has a consistent style of rowing stroke from novice to elite levels of rowing at the club and coaching the top crews in preparation for the Head of the River Race and Henley Royal Regatta. In addition, both he and the club have an aim to bridge the gap between club level rowing at Thames and international level, thereby supporting our athletes during the trialing process.

Email Ben:

Women’s head coach

Sander Smulders

Sander_SmuldersSander has been involved with rowing since 1993 and started rowing as a junior at Pampus RC in Almere. Soon after he moved to an bigger club, and qualified for Junior World Championships in 1998. Later that year he joined ASR Nereus and competed at Henley in the Temple and Visitors Cup for the next eight years as well as at international level at World Cups. He also won a silver medal at the Student World Championships in 2002 where he competed against Ben Lewis.

In 2008, soon after Sander finished rowing, he started coaching juniors at de Hoop, a club close to Nereus. In the years to come he coached several juniors to the Junior Worlds. In 2010 he went back to Nereus to coach the heavyweight men for the Temple Challenge Cup at Henley, where his crew finished as runner-up in 2011. In 2012 he won the main Dutch Varsity event, the Old Four, a race over 3km in a coxed four. Since then Sander coached the freshmen and in the last two years the women, winning a bronze medal in the coxless four in the U23 Worlds in Rotterdam.

In his first year at Thames Sander led the men’s squad to a win and a final in the Thames Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta, with the Britannia Challenge Cup and Wyfold Challenge Cup crews both reaching the semifinals. He followed this up with another win in the Thames Cup and the club’s first-ever Britannia Cup win. In 2018/19 Sander will take over responsibility for the Thames women’s squad.

In his spare time Sander still likes to train a lot with his new sport, CrossFit, and watch baseball which he picked up in his time at Harvard.

Email Sander:

Men’s coaching team

Jamie Brown

Jamie has been involved in rowing for nearly 10 years, having taken up the sport at Monmouth School. As a junior he competed at the National Schools’ Regatta and Henley Royal Regatta, as well as racing at Home Internationals. Jamie went on to row as a lightweight at Cambridge University, and won two Lightweight Boat Races along with several medals at BUCS Regatta. In 2017 he served as president of the Cambridge Lightweight team.

As a coach, Jamie has worked with male and female Cambridge college athletes for a number of years. Most recently, he spent a season coaching at Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club where he worked with crews in preparation for the Boat Races, Women’s Head of the River, BUCS, and Henley Women’s Regatta, with a particular focus on talent identification and the university’s development programme.

At Thames Jamie aims to help his athletes meet their individual technical and physiological potential, as well as to produce the fastest possible crews in a fun training environment.

Bill Hilder

Rory O’Brian

Nick Pusinelli

Nick has been involved with rowing for more than 18 years. He hails from New Zealand where he learned his trade at school before going on to make it into the Under 19, Under 23 and Elite rowing teams. He first joined Thames in 2013 and has raced at HRR six times, winning in 2016 in the Visitor’s Challenge Cup. He then had a year of coaching at Thames where his Brit 4+ and Wyfold 4- both reached the semi finals at HRR. After a year back rowing to lose some weight and leading the Sinkovic brothers to the island, he has tossed it in and is back coaching with Ben to help the club continue in its success.

Outside of the rowing world Nick does a bit of ultra-distance cycling and running. Having cycled from London to Istanbul, up to Edinburgh and back, across South Africa and various other countries his next challenge is running across the Sahara desert in the Marathon Des Sables.

Women’s coaching team

Jamie Low

Jamie joined Thames’ coaching team towards the end of the 2016/17 season, previously having coached at other Tideway clubs, most recently Imperial College. Jamie has been involved with coaching crews which have won pennants in major head races, from Scullers Head to Women’s Head of the River.

He has also been involved with coaching crews which have won Henley Women’s Regatta (five wins over the last seven years), with athletes ranging from intermediate to elite standard. Most recently Jamie assisted in coaching the Elite Lwt Pair at Thames, winning the event in 2017 and setting a new course record. Jamie has also worked with many female crews which have gone on to compete at Henley Royal Regatta.

Now in his second full year at Thames, Jamie looks to continue his assistance in getting crews going as fast as possible. When not on the water, he can usually be found on his road bike or enjoying eating cake/chocolate!

Ellie Garratt-Smith

Ellie joined Thames in 2007 and has competed for the club across a range of boat classes, including both open and lightweight, sculling and sweep. She reached the final of Aspirational Club 8s at HWR in 2018 and has now retired to take up coaching.

Charlotte Hill

Junior head coach

Michael Siravo

Michael has been coaching for six years and is a sports scientist specialising in biomechanics, parametrics, physiology and nutrition. He is a senior strength and conditioning coach and member of UKSCA and has created programmes for rowing clubs and universities. He has coached at several GB training camps and coached a para rower to the GB team. Michael has also worked with clubs such as Leander, Durham University and Tideway Scullers. He rowed for the London Oratory School and then moved to Tideway Scullers while still coaching at several rowing clubs. Michael began his Thames coaching career with the novice men before taking over the junior squad in late 2017.


Novice coaching team

Head Coach: Pauline Rayner

Pauline is a qualified Bronze Level coach. She has been coaching beginners at Thames since 1983.  She also formed Putney High School RC who won a silver medal at the National Schools Regatta. From 1991 – 1994, Pauline coached the novice women to a number of Head pennants and a vast array of regatta wins.

Pauline herself represented GB in the first Anglo/French regatta in 1954 in an eight. She represented GB in the European Championships in the first double to race for the UK in 1960. She won the Women’s Head of the River and other pennants in the masters category on numerous occasions. She is twice winner in a quad in the Fours Head of the River and she’s had numerous wins in a double in the pairs head and in the Scullers Head. Pauline is two times world indoor rowing champion. She is a gold medallist in every type of boat in the World Masters Regattas.

Pauline was also awarded the Diamond Jubilee medal from British Rowing for dedicated services to Rowing and given an MBE from the Queen for her services to sport.

Jo Harris

Jo learned to row at Christ Church, Oxford. After coming out of college with no points she joined Thames’s novice squad in 2003 and in under a year had four of them.

She kept on rowing competitively at Thames and, for two years, Wellington RC in New Zealand, until summer 2015. In that time she raced eight times at Henley Women’s Regatta, winning intermediate club 8s in 2010. She also featured in Thames’s Remenham Challenge Cup 8 in 2011 at Henley Royal Regatta, reached several ‘A’ finals in two years at the New Zealand National Rowing Championships, won WIM1 4+ at Fours Head 2012, and represented Wales in 2014 and 2015 at the Home International Regatta.

Jo has now retired in favour of doing a bit of paddling around in veterans’ boats and learning to drive a launch while shouting enthusiastically at novices.


Jack Clark