Rio Salado Rowing Club employs a full-time professional coach who leads a team of permanent and visiting USRowing-certified coaches. Highly qualified, safety-conscious rowing education by coaches who are experienced, inclusive and keenly competitive is a hallmark of Rio rowing.

  • Peter Figgins

    Head Coach
    Peter was introduced to rowing by his father, a former collegiate oarsman for Queens University in Belfast, Ireland, and a founder of the Three Rivers Rowing Association in Pittsburgh. Rowing is a life passion for Peter and his profession for many years. He has served in volunteer and professional roles as TRAA masters race coordinator, coach of his children’s high school rowing program, head coach of the men’s crew at the University of Vermont and a coach at Craftsbury Sculling Center. He and his crews have plenty of hardware on their trophy shelves, including multiple podiums at the Canadian and U.S. Masters Nationals, Midwest Scholastic Championships, CSSRA Championships, and championships at the New England Fours Regatta and the Mens’ Varsity 4+. Peter has served as head coach for Rio since 2015.
  • Mario Cunha

    Rowing began as an escape from school in Zimbabwe, where I grew up. In 1985 I started as a cox for our school team. The bug bit, and I went on to row for my school at national level, winning gold. Once I left school, I was invited back to coach rowing at three top private schools in Zimbabwe. I coached over 40 children, entering them into yearly regional championships. I also led the tour to Germany in 2005 for Junior World Championships as a Zimbabwe coach. Subsequently, I was head coach for the Zimbabwe Rowing Squad that toured Botswana for the All Africa Games, as well as leading the annual tour to Canada at the Royal Canadian Henley. I was invited twice to assist in coaching for City Island Rowing, the Bronx, which was my introduction to rowing in the United States. After moving to Georgia, I coached for the Atlanta Rowing Club, holding the position of coach chairman in 2020. Moving to Arizona for business, I joined Rio Salado Rowing Club as a coach, working for the master’s competitive program. I have completed both FISA 1 and 2 courses, as well as attained British Level 2 as a qualified coach. Rowing is my passion! As anyone knows, this a hard sport mentally, physically and emotionally. I love working with a boat to get it to sing through the water and delight in each crew as they hit their individual goals, growing each time an obstacle is overcome or a mark is hit. Rowers are a special breed. I am honored to work with them.
  • Michelle Wilkie

    From the moment she took her first rowing class with Rio on Tempe Town Lake in 2000 until she received USRowing Coaching Level 1 certification in 2021, Michelle has been an avid participant in and advocate for the sport. In addition to being actively involved with our club, Michelle has participated in Masters Coaching and Chinook Performance Racing. With them she has competed nationally and internationally — at numerous Masters Nationals, Head of the Charles and World Masters in Italy and New Zealand. For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Michelle competed and won gold at the Masters Henley in England. Wherever she may row, she considers Rio Salado Rowing Club her home and the team she most loves to row with. Introducing people to rowing is Michelle’s passion. She loves that rowing is a sport you can pursue for a lifetime, and that it uniquely combines the joy of being outdoors on the water, working in teams, and all-body, non-impact, disciplined exercise. The people she’s met through rowing — teammates, coaches, competitors and students — have been among the most important relationships of her life.
  • Raye Thomas

    Raye was drawn to Tempe Town Lake through the "Words Over Water" project that can be seen on the granite tiles on the wall surrounding the lake. It was the language and sound of rowing that immediately fascinated her. Shortly after Raye began rowing in 2005, her creativity and competitive spirit embraced the sport of rowing. She went to as many rowing clinics as possible to further her development and technique. Over the years, Raye has rowed and raced in both sweep and sculling events with Rio, Masters Coaching and Chinook and has tales and medals from local races, Regionals, Nationals, World Masters Games, Henley Masters, Head of the Charles and FISA World Masters. After receiving her USRowing coaching certification in 2020, she coached new rowers required to row singles only. Raye enjoys teaching novice rowers the basic mechanics of rowing and introducing drills to make a boat move efficiently. She is thrilled to see rowers progress and excited to witness both their individual growth and their respect for teamwork.