Coaching Team

Head Coach

Ben Lewis

Ben lewisBen has been involved in rowing for over 20 years. Since 1998 he has been involved in 13 Henley Royal Regatta finals. He won the Ladies’ Plate and competed in five other finals as a rower; as a coach he has achieved four Thames Cup wins, a win in the Ladies’ Plate and one in the Visitors’ Challenge Cup, and two other composite victories. 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 Races, Henley Women’s Regatta 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.

His aim is to build on the recent success of the club and ensure that the recent near misses for the squads are now firmly in the past. He hopes that as a by product of success on the water, that Thames will develop and push talented athletes towards trialing for the national team.


Assistant coaches

Dave Loveday

Dave joins Thames at the start of the 2017/18 season to lead the women’s squad. He has previously held coaching positions at St Paul’s School and Imperial College. He has taken crews to wins at National Schools Regatta and finals at Henley Royal Regatta and also brings extensive experience as a strength and conditioning coach.

He previously looked after the strength and conditioning programme for London Youth Rowing’s junior high performance programme at Thames.

As a rower, Dave raced at a high level, winning four Home International Regatta gold medals and gold and two bronze medals for England at the 2010 Commonwealth Regatta. He reached the final of the Thames Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta when racing for Sport Imperial BC.

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.

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.


Junior Head Coach

Hannah Stone

hannahHannah caught the rowing bug aged 14 years old up on the cold Scottish waters of Strathclyde Park. Having enjoyed a varying degree of success in her junior years, she took time out while at university and returned to the sport in 2008. By 2013, Hannah was a multiple Scottish champion in the 4+, had represented Scotland at three consecutive Home International Regattas, won IM1 4- at 2012 Fours Head and had a bronze medal from the 2012 British Championships.

Hannah joined London Youth Rowing as a Community Coach in September 2014 and worked with local schools to find the next generation of rowing champions. From this time Hannah was also an active member of the Thames women’s squad, competing in the Senior 4x at Henley Women’s 2015, winning WIM1 4+ at Fours Head and placing sixth with the women’s 1st 8+ at the Women’s Head of the River 2016. Now Head Coach of the Thames Juniors, Hannah is relishing life on the other side of the megaphone!


Men’s coaching team

Nick Pusinelli

Nick has been rowing at Thames for the last few years in an effort to regain some of his former glory, finally achieving retirement status after winning at Henley Royal Regatta on his fifth go. He hails from the other end of the world, New Zealand where he started rowing in 2000 and went on to row at junior, under 23 and senior level. He also claims that having rowed with the likes of Hamish Bond and Mahé Drysdale, he knows what he is on about.

Having finished with rowing as an athlete, Nick is trying his hand at coaching and is going to be learning the ropes from the old hands at the club to see how it is done. His aim is to help get the top guys at the club over the line first in as many races as they can.

Henry Hilder


Women’s coaching team

Sheena Cassidy

Sheena has been a member of Thames for AGES. She likes waving a megaphone about. Her preferred method of crew selection is by use of a magic 8 ball. It keeps coming up with “ask again later”. More than all other things, she likes racing. And cake.



Jack Clark


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

joharrisJo 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.


Michael Siravo

Michael has been coaching for five years. Starting from a young age alongside his study, he coached at several clubs while rowing for Tideway Scullers. He studied sport science specialising in biomechanics, parametrics and nutrition. He uses his studies to develop his athletes and has developed athletes to GB trials. He has also worked with clubs such as Leander, Durham University and the GB team, which has shaped his coaching style.