Melbourne Bearbrass Probus stalwart Robyn Blake at 63 thinks nothing of rowing five kilometres down the Yarra from her club in Hawthorn, before her races even start. Then Robyn (pink cap, front of boat) and her female Four – the eldest 66 – do the 3.5km race and afterwards they row home upstream for another 8km. She rows 12 hours a week, or about 30km. 
She’s been rowing 14 years and hopes to keep rowing for another 20. “Some people are still rowers at 90,” she says. “They might seem creaky in the rowing shed but once in the boat they’re fine.” 
She and her quad in their last two years were Masters’ gold medal winners at Rutherglen, Vic. in January, gold medallists at Barwon Heads mid-2021 and best of all, State gold medallists in the Melbourne Head Race last November. 
“Sometimes we find ourselves competing against 18-year-olds,” she laughs. “We’ve really improved through togetherness. We’re more controlled and less frantic when the race starts. Our coach has drummed into us, ‘OK, you’re here to row this particular race. It doesn’t matter how well the other crews row. All that matters is how well you row today.” 
She took up rowing when she was watching her daughter Florien on the river in Year 9 for MLC school. Florien went on to be Vice Captain of Boats. “ We mums envied our daughters’ fitness and decided we could emulate them,” Robyn says. “It’s a mind-body thing. It’s made me unimaginably healthier, starting with my legs, and I have to be mentally fit too –if your head is not in the right place your every stroke can be off. Good strokes come when you’re calm and in control. It’s a therapy really.” 
She and Andrew, her husband of 37 years, have two daughters and one son aged from 22 to 28 and all are working or studying in England or California. 
How does Andrew view it all? – “He’s driving me to the river in the car right now, he’s giving a thumbs up,” she says. “He did some rowing lessons but prefers jogging around the Botanic Gardens.” 
Robyn, who is also an historical novelist, loves the knowledge-sharing and socialising in Bearbrass Probus. “We can all learn so much from each other,” she says. #