Our Coaches

Building the Best

Jo Burch

Joined Robs in 1989
Jo Burch started rowing when she was a student at Cambridge University in 1983. She joined the University Women’s Squad and for two years in the  Blue Boat for Cambridge. She then went on to become President of the University’s Boat Club and the Club’s Senior Treasurer. After training and working as a professional solicitor, Jo joined Robs in 1989 and learnt to scull.

She raced successfully as the Women’s Captain and won gold at the very first Women’s Henley Regatta. Jo has been Robs Junior Squad Coordinator and part of the Junior coaching team since 2015. “It’s hard work and long hours but incredibly rewarding bringing juniors into the squad as raw novices with no sense of their own potential and see them develop their self-belief and determination as fine athletes.”

Favourite coaching comment every made to Jo:

“You’re 6 inches too short and 20 lbs too light to make into the Blue Boat!”

Jo’s coaching soundbite:

“If you’re prepared to try, I’m prepared to coach you!”

Samantha Hulston

Club Secretary / Women’s Squad

Samantha started rowing when she moved to Cambridge to train as a teacher. Her flat was just by the boat houses and when out running of a morning she saw a woman in a single scull paddling up and down the Cam. Samantha signed herself up for a sculling boot camp and was paddling up a tiny stretch of the Cam in a single scull by the end of the week. When the University term started, Samantha joined Homerton Boat Club, adding some sweep rowing to her sculling. Within a year of learning to row Samantha rowed the Ouse half marathon in a 4+, winning in her boat’s IM3 category with her fellow crew members.

Favourite coaching / rowing comment ever made to Samantha: 

‘You’re 5ft 5 and weigh 50kg. Are you sure you wouldn’t like to cox?’

Favourite rowing comment ever made by Samantha: 
‘Racing socks and pots make for a good day’.

Michael Knapp

Club Chairman / Junior’s Coach

Michael is a former member of the London Rowing Club Lightweight Squad, competing at top club and international regattas. Michael started his rowing career at the age of 12, joining Twickenham Rowing Club’s junior squad. At the age of 19 Michael stroked Twickenham’s first eight at Henley Royal Regatta and the following year competed in the regattas pairs event Silver Goblets & Nickalls’ Challenge Cup. Michael continued his successful rowing career racing for London Rowing Club up until he had to retire from racing due ongoing sports injuries.

As Michael was not able to continue racing, he moved back to Twickenham Rowing Club and became head coach of the men’s senior squad. For several years Michael grew and developed the squad giving them the ability to compete at Henley Royal Regatta and to win many senior events. He continued his role as coach for many years and also took on the role as Twickenham Club Captain.

In 2010 Michael moved to Cambridge. Eager to be involved with rowing once more, the Knapp family introduced their daughter Charlotte into the sport. Since Charlotte joined Rob Roy Boat Club in 2016, Michael has been part of the Junior Coaching Team and currently holds the position of Club Chairman.

Always look to achieve the impossible because everything is possible”

“Lets make history” 

Steve Taylor

Junior’s Coach
Steve Taylor began sculling and rowing in about 1982 at King’s School Worcester and Bewdley Rowing Club, with his most memorable races being a dead heat and immediate re-row that he lost by a bow ball in a single scull at Bewdley; guest appearances for Worcester Rowing Club in Amsterdam; winning Hereford Schools regatta in a record time in 1986; and being squarely beaten in the 1986 championship fours (rather than first fours) at National Schools. He went on to row at Reading University and then took an extended break to live in Taiwan from 1990.

Steve considers himself extremely lucky to have had coaches at King’s and Reading who knew how to teach people to not only love rowing, but train and row to the highest levels. Returning to the UK in 2006, it took a few years before he sent his son Brett on a Rob Roy summer course in 2012 and he was then persuaded to begin rowing again with X-Press Boat Club in Cambridge. It’s been fairly constant rowing since then and Steve started to get involved with taking photos, writing articles and coaching the Rob Roy juniors in 2015/16.

Alex Turnbull

Junior’s Coach

Alex started rowing around 10 years ago and has been hooked since. Rowing is a sport in which Alex excelled after spending time trying other school sports like rugby, cricket etc.

“I’m not what you might call your perfect rower. I’m not a giant with gorilla arms. I am in fact below 6’ but that doesn’t mean I can’t row well or can’tcompete to a high standard – both of which I have done and as a lightweight. Lightweight racing is for those below 75kg at winter weight and around 75.2kg at summer weight.”

“My coaching outlook is to give anyone a chance to try out the sport because they might find that it’s for them. The rewards as a coach when you see the excited look on the faces of the young athletes who find that rowing is for them is such an amazing feeling and is worth all the effort of early mornings and long days of training.”

Alex is a Level 2 qualified British Rowing coach and has been coaching for 2 years with The Leys School, St John’s College School, and Sancton Wood School. Alex is intending to qualify as a Strength and Conditioning Coaching Course very soon, which means he could also support Rob’s S+C coaches during land training sessions.

“My key advice is that you should never count yourself out of any contention until you’ve at least given it a good and worthwhile try.”