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Coaches Biographies

Leander’s coaching staff, run by chief coach Mark Banks, are the secret to the club’s success. Our coaches are fully committed to training athletes to achieve their potential – they understand the athletes’ aim is to make the national team, and will do everything in their power to help them get there.

Most coaches are themselves former international rowers and have a vast bank of knowledge and experience they can call upon with the athletes – an invaluable tool!

To get in touch with the coaches:
T: 01491 575782

Find out more about our world class coaching team below.

Mark Banks


Mark Banks became Chief Coach at Leander Club in 2000 and has been Director of Rowing for the last seven years. He has had a coaching career punctuated with unprecedented success, most notably coaching two crews to win Olympic silver medals: In 2004, he coached the women‘s quad to win silver at the Athens Olympics; and four years later, he coached the GB men’s eight to win an equally impressive silver Olympic medal, in Beijing. He has coached GB crews for thirty consecutive years, more than any other coach.

However Mark’s passion for coaching is as much about performing at the highest level, as it is about developing and nurturing talent from the grassroots. Debbie Flood, for example, was coached by Mark from a beginner to Olympic silver medalist.
A key part of Mark’s stamp on Leander is his world-renowned training program He uses his wealth of knowledge and experience to craft an incredibly successful training program, which has helped secure more Henley Royal Regatta wins than any other club in the world. Every two weeks a new program is published, taking into account the athletes performances in previous weeks; and fatigue levels. Mark will look back over notes from his previous 30 years in the sport to help predict when his athletes will peak, and when they will need the intensity of the program adjusted. On the program, Mark commented, “For me, rowing at this level is all about delivering peak performance when it matters. It’s the coach’s role to help bring out the best in our athletes, so they can make that happen.”

Prior to coaching, Mark was a rower himself – he learnt to row at Hollingworth Lake and competed as a lightweight for Notts County, before changing to coaching in 1986, after an injury prevented him from continuing with his own competitive rowing career. His first coaching medal was a bronze in 1988, followed by gold in 1989 with the GB Junior four at the Junior World Championships. In 1990, he was appointed the National Chief Coach for Juniors. In his time with the juniors Mark has coached male and female athletes to medals in rowing and sculling, including golds at the junior, u23 and senior world championships.

Mark also spends a considerable amount of time passing on his experience in developing the Leander coaching staff to allow them to reach their potential. He is proud that many ex Leander rowers have moved into coaching, presently 40 in the last 17 years – Matt Beechey, Jane Hall, Ross Hunter, Ali Brown, Dave Currie, Tom Wilkinson to name but a few.

For Mark the secret to great rowing is ‘doing the common uncommonly well; and reinforcing the positives on a daily basis.’ This simple coaching approach has proven successful time and time again. Leander has on average had 31 senior GB athletes and 10 u23’s each year for the last 8 years.

Mark has no intention of slowing down and cannot wait to see what further success Leander can have, saying ‘I’m so excited about new talent coming into the club each season. It’s amazing to think they could be the next big thing and follow in the footsteps of the likes of Steve Redgrave, Anna Watkins, Pete Reed, Debbie Flood, Alex Gregory .’

Matt Beechey

High Performance Coach Men

Matt Beechey started coaching part-time at Leander in 2009 after a very successful international rowing career spanning the period 1995 to 2008, when Matt represented Great Britain in every lightweight boat class.

After retiring from international competition, coaching for Matt seemed like a natural progression to stay involved within the sport that he loved. He said he felt a ‘duty to come back and coach at Leander to give something back for all the great coaching and support I had when I was climbing the ranks of the national team as an athlete.’

Matt’s technical ability as a lightweight rower shines through in his coaching style, which is famed for being very clear and simple for a variety of athletes to buy into. His record as a coach speaks for itself – he has coached crews to win the Prince of Wales Challenge Cup for five successive years at Henley Royal Regatta as well as wins in the Ladies Plate and two wins in the Visitors Challenge Cup. Internationally he taken crews to the Under-23 World Championships, most notably in 2014, when his crew of Jack Beaumont and Angus Groom won a bronze in the Men’s Double Sculls. The following year he coached Jack Beaumont to fifth place in the men’s single.

Not only is Matt a technically gifted coach, but he also holds a number of professional qualifications. Matt studied sport science in university and holds strength & conditioning qualifications. He is currently on his way to completing his Level 3 Coaching qualification and is an assessor in the AASE program.

Many of Matt’s athletes have gone from being coached by him into the national team. Stewart Innes, for example, was coached at Leander by Matt for two years before entering the GB senior squad in 2015, where he stroked the coxless four at the world championships to win a bronze medal.

Away from rowing Matt enjoys board sports, skiing and spending time with his family.

Ross Hunter

High Performance Coach Women 

After joining the club in 1999 as an junior athlete in Ross enjoyed more than 10 years of representing Leander at Junior,U23’s and Senior world level as well as at Henley Royal. He qualified as a Waterman & Lighterman alongside his rowing commitments and worked as captain on the Thames until 2012 when he felt the sport drawing him back in.

After working as a volunteer coach with beginners he started to realize how much he missed being around rowing and how much passion he still had for it.
In 2014 an opportunity came his way and Ross started his professional coaching career in Bristol at the University of the West of England (UWE) coaching the women’s squad. This was a very important time for him as he learnt how to adapt from an athlete to a coach.

“UWE really opened my eyes to what coaching actually was. I had to set up a novice and senior women’s program from scratch with very limited resources. It challenged me very early on to decide what my coaching style was and how I wanted to deliver that to a large group of 40 athletes on my own”.

After some strong performances with UWE things started to move quickly and by 2015 Ross was back at Leander this time as the coach working with the lightweights and men’s sculling group. During this time Ross achieved 3 Henley Royal Regatta wins as well as having many of his athletes selected for the GB team.

The 2017/18 season saw Ross lead the Leander High Performance women’s squad for the first time and now in 2018 they look even stronger.

“It’s a very exciting time in women’s rowing, that side of the sport is growing fast and when the role became available I pushed really hard to get it. I’m looking forward to seeing what the group can achieve, Leander has always had a strong tradition of success with its men’s squad and I’d love to be part of a women’s squad that can equal that”

James Loveday

High Performance Coach Juniors

James has nine years’ experience coaching junior athletes in national and international competition. He prides himself in being able to identify, nurture and develop athletes towards national and international standards. His ambition is to produce the highest standard of performance within the club junior programme.

James began his coaching career during his undergraduate degree as an assistant coach at Marlow Rowing Club. Following the completion of his undergraduate degree he was successful in securing a Henley Stewards Charitable Trust Scholarship that enabled him to work in Wales, where he selected and coached the 2011 Welsh Junior Sculling Team. James then went on to be a head coach for London Youth Rowing at Thames Rowing Club.

James likes to keep up to date using recent evidence from sport science and strength and conditioning research. Away from the training plan he aims to develop a culture of success, allowing regular input from athletes in terms of goal setting and close monitoring of their academics.

His development as a coach has been supported by his academic studies, which include a BSc in Sports Science from Brunel University and an MSc in Coaching Science from Cardiff Metropolitan University. He implements a mixed method approach to athlete development that utilises exercise physiology, nutrition, psychology, performance analysis and strength and conditioning.

James has a detailed understanding of the Great Britain junior team selection criteria and the performance standards expected from junior international athletes. He has coached British crews at both the Junior World Championships and the Coupe de la Jeunesse. James’ ambition is to win the Fawley Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta and continue to work closely with the GB junior system.


High Performance Coach Men

In 1997 aged 16 Ali Brown moved to Henley from his home town Bradford on Avon to join Leander Club and became the clubs first ever Junior World Medallist before switching to lightweight rowing where he sculled and rowed internationally at U23s and senior level.

In 2005 Ali finished his own rowing and started his career as a coach in a new role as Director of Rowing at Sir William Borlase Grammar School in Marlow, in 2007 Ali Became DOR at Bedford Modern School then in 2015 as Senior Coach at Abingdon School. All the while the long term goal was to one day get coach at Leander Club, the club he loves that has done so much for him over the years.

Ali is currently coaching the sculling squad and running our recruitment program. Alongside this Ali has taken the lead on the rowing side of our social media and website. Ali works hard on our Instagram page uploading photos and videos daily of the rowers training, if you have not seen it yet please take a look online by searching Leander Club Instagram we have over 17,000 followers.

“ Working at Leander is awesome, I love it, Mark Banks used to coach me and I rowed with Matt Beechey and Ross Hunter so as a coaching team we understand each other and what the club is working towards. I enjoy coming to work every day and am passionate that Leander’s dominants continues for many years to come”

Child Welfare Officer and contact details

Keith Settle is Leander Club’s Child Welfare Officer.

To get in touch please email:

More information can be found on the British Rowing website at:


Contact Details

Mark Banks- Director of Rowing and Chief Coach

Matt Beechey- Coach (Men)

Ross Hunter- Coach (Women)

Ali Brown- Coach (Men and Recruitment)

James Loveday- Coach (Juniors)

Keith Settle – Club Welfare Officer

Debbie Flood- Female Mentor

Alex Partridge- Male Mentor

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