Our coaches


We have a fantastic team of coaches at Mercantile with years of experience at the elite level. In fact, Mercantile has more coaches than any club in Australia. This means that you will be guided to develop as an athlete, and perform at your best to ensure you are able to make the most of the representative opportunities that Rowing Victoria and Rowing Australia offer.

The coaching model used by Mercantile is unique in Victoria and fosters success. The Club employs two full time coaches who are dedicated to the program. They are not distracted by other responsibilities. They provide a level of dedication and focus not seen elsewhere in Victoria. They are supported by a team of excellent and experienced other coaches.

High Performance Squad Coaches

The high performance squad is made up of the Under 19, Under 21, Under 23 Program and the Senior A Program. There is a graded and periodised training programme for all squads and it is monitored with consistent and detailed sports science support and data analysis. This squad is for our members with national team aspirations, and membership brings with it an expectation of work ethic and commitment to performance and progression.

In addition, there are designated coaches for each squad meaning athletes are guaranteed consistent and highly experienced coaching.

Alistair Matthews

Alistair Matthews is our High Performance Head Coach.  Alistair has overall responsibility for leading our High-Performance Program.  Alistair leads our team of professional coaches, (Sam Fennessy, David Colvin & Annabelle Eaton) and our voluntary High-Performance coaches (Peter Somerville, Tim Frederico, Jason Izydorczyk, Andrew McNeil, Jordan King, William Golding & Jessica Hare).  In addition to this leadership role Alistair has direct coaching responsibility for the open and under 23 men’s squad.

2023 will be Alistair’s third season coaching at Mercantile where his focus to date has been on taking the women’s program to terrific results seeing him selected as the winning Victorian Queens Cup coach for the last 2 years and leading exceptional results in para rowing.

Alistair brings a wealth of experience and a passion for the development of athletes, not just as elite athletes but as well-rounded people equipped with the skills to excel in all aspects of their life.  Alistair is extremely well qualified for the role including having a Bachelor of Sports Business Sport and a Graduate Certificates in Commerce from Sydney University and is currently completing a Graduate Certificate of Coaching through University of Queensland as part of a coaching scholarship through Rowing Australia.

Alistair said upon his appointment to the senior high-performance position: “It’s a privilege to lead such a talented and motivated group of coaches all focused on providing an environment where our athletes are thriving and can focus on making their boats go fast.”

Over his career Alistair has:

  • coached at Sydney University, Rhodes University & St Andrews College in South Africa.
  • been Head Coach at Melbourne Girls Grammar School setting them up for their recent National Championship winning form; and
  • coached the Australian 2021 under 23 women’s four, Australian 2014 U21 men’s team, and Australian 2013 U19 men’s quad.

Supporting high performance coaches

The supporting coaches are of the highest quality.

Annabelle Eaton

Annabelle Eaton is the Club's Women’s Lead Coach.  Annabelle has overall responsibility for our women’s program and direct coaching responsibility for the under 23 Women’s squad.  

Annabelle brings a wealth of experience and a passion for the development of young women, not just as elite athletes but as well-rounded people equipped with the skills to excel in all aspects of their life.  Annabelle is extremely well qualified for the role including having a Bachelor of Applied Science and a Graduate Diploma of Physical Education from Victoria University.
At the time of her appointement, Annabelle said: “I see an exciting season ahead and hope the trajectory will be as positive as the vibes I am experiencing on a daily basis on the front line since joining.”
Over her extensive career Annabelle has been:

  • A teacher and led the rowing programs at St Catherine’s School and Melbourne Girls Grammar School, coaching first VIII's to HOSG and National Championship wins.
  • A 5 times Australian Coach
  • Most recently the coach of the Australian U23 Women’s Coxed four which won the gold medal at the World U23 Championships in Varese stroked by Mercantiles own Emmie Frederico.

David Colvin

David ‘Chipper’ Colvin is our under 21 and under 19 men's Squad Coach.

After a long coxing career which took him to 10 King's Cup victories, an Olympic Final in 1992, and World Championship medals in 1997, he turned his hand to Club administration followed soon after by a long term move in 2002 into coaching developing rowers. 

He has coached or co-coached the Victorian Queen’s Cup & Victoria Cup crews many times up to 2018 as well as a couple of seaons coaching men’s lightweights including the Victorian Penrith Cup Crew. He has played a significant role in the development of generations of Mercantile rowers on to State and National Teams of all levels.

Having worked with every professional coach at Mercantile since 1999, there is not much he hasn't seen, however he still enjoys the challenge of working with developing athletes as well as developing coaches.

Jason Izydorczyk

Assisting David Colvin with the under 21 and under 19 men is Jason Izydorczyk. Rowing has been an integral part of Jason’s life since the age of 13. As an athlete, he experienced success with the Australian Under 19 team, Trans-Tasman team and Victorian State teams.

As a coach, he draws upon 10 years of experience having worked within the APS rowing program developing and mentoring junior schoolboy rowers from amateur to elite level. During his time coaching, Jason has seen more and more athletes determined to try and succeed at rowing. He believes that progress is integral part of cultural motivation and success within the sport. Throughout his time coaching, Jason worked as the Senior Head Rowing Coach at Xavier College, where he established a technical model and used performance outcomes to help elevate crews to a state and national level. 

Outside of rowing, Jason is a qualified Osteopath working closely with athletes and coaches addressing injury prevention and management and optimising functional performance.  Jason is very proud to be involved with Mercantile Rowing Club. To him, rowing is a sport that creates opportunities within all facets of life. He hopes to support athletes in their endeavours within rowing and beyond. 

Sam Fennessy

Sam started his coaching record at Mercantile in 2019 with the women's under 21 and under 19 program having coached in the UK prior to returning to Australia. Whilst overseas, he spent 16 months coaching and rowing at Christchurch College and St Hugh’s College at Oxford University. Sam coached the St Hugh’s college senior mens first eight to their highest ever position in the Oxford Summer Eights Bumps Regatta.  He is also currently coaching at Loreto Toorak (Senior 2nd VIII). Having completed a Bachleor of Sports Development at Deakin Univesity, he has finishing his RA level 2 coach accreditation. He is passionate about the development of both Para and development athletes. He has been heavily involved with the developing Para program at Mercs whilst maintaining the under 21 women's program.  

He is a diligent, considered and thoughtful coach.

Jess Hare

Assisting Sam with the women's under 21 and under 19 squads is Jess Hare. Jess has been a volunteer coach at Mercs since 2021, and spends the rest of her time as the Melbourne Girls' College senior coordinator and coach of the first quad. In 2022 she was selected to coach the Victorian Pathways U18 women's eight, where the crew placed first in the interstate regatta in Canberra. As a considerate, level-headed and determined coach, Jess' signature quote, "Don't be complacent", is also a testament to her continued drive to develop those in the sport. She is in her final year studying a Bachelor of Environmental Science at Deakin University.

Peter Somerville

Peter commenced his coaching at Mercs and was a scholarship coach at the AIS working with Paul Thompson and in his words, being terrified by Reinhold Batschi. He became Mercantile's first professional Head Coach and coached on the Australian Under 23 Team a couple of times, winning a silver medal in Copenhagen in 2000 with the Australian Under 23 Quad featuring David Crawshay, and again in his words, taught him everything he knows about rowing. Became University of London Boat Club Women's Head Coach. Coached numerous British crews at Under 23 and Senior level between 2001 and 2004.  Won silver medal with Under 23 women's 2- in Belgrade, 2003.  Also coached the winning the Remenham Challenge Cup crew at Henley Royal Regatta in 2004. He has returned to coaching now that his children are mature and his PhD completed. Needless to say, he is an excellent coach.


Club Program Coaches

The Club has a successful and important Club rowing program for those not wanting to maintain the rigours of the high performance program.

The program is led by the Captain Meghan Hester, Andrew McNeil and Jordan King.