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 joined 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.


Men’s coaching team

Bill Hilder

Henry Hilder

Henry first joined Thames as an athlete in 2013, representing the club for two years before retiring at the end of the 2015 season. Prior to Thames, Henry attended and learnt to row at Newcastle University.

Henry joined the coaching team at the beginning of the 2015/16 season and is now in his third year supporting the professional coaching team. In the 2016/17 season he coached the Thames ‘B’ crew to the Final of the Thames Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta. In the 2017/18 season Henry aims to continue to build on the success of last year, hopefully going one better in a Henley final in 2018. He prides himself on unlocking the potential of rowers who have failed to flourish in other programmes. Henry believes in training hard and playing hard and as typified by the 2017 campaign, the process of achieving success need not be a dull one!

Rory O’Brian


Women’s coaching team

Jack Clark

Jamie Low

Jamie joined Thames’ coaching team towards the end of 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 (5 wins over the last 7 years), with athletes ranging from intermediate to elite standard. Most recently, last year, Jamie assisted in coaching the Elite Lwt Pair at Thames, winning the event and setting a new course record. Jamie has also worked with many female crews which have gone on to compete at Henley Royal Regatta.

In his first 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!

Cameron Parham


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.

Tim Hirst

Gavin Kerr

Gavin started rowing at Stirling Rowing Club 30 years ago, mostly sculling, and started coaching juniors at Stirling 25 years ago. He moved to Oxford in 1998 and both rowed and coached novices at City of Oxford. I moved to Abingdon in 2006 and rowed and coached there.

In 2011 Gav moved to Thames in 2011, rowing with the vets. He ran the novice men’s squad in 2013, 2014 and 2015 before taking a year off. Gav likes winning and will do anything needed to get results.

Under his leadership the novice men’s squad has won the novice pennant at HORR, Hammersmith Head and Regatta, Kingston Head and Regatta, Upper Thames Head, Remenham, Boustead Cup. In 2015 he even managed to get a novice crew to qualify for Henley Royal Regatta, just being narrowly beaten by Kingston’s top crew. This was something that the club was very proud of as others have tried and failed including a famous Olympian!

Gav’s motto is “tough but fair”.