Inside Tez Steinberg’s 126-Day Rowing Journey Across The Pacific

Inside Tez Steinberg’s epic 126-day rowing journey across the Pacific Ocean

After 126 days at sea and with more than 8,000 kilometres of water behind him, Tez Steinberg arrived in Australia from Hawaii last month, after setting off in late 2023 to raise awareness for ocean conservation and accelerate ocean plastic solutions. Steinberg’s journey was one of immense physical endurance, but as he tells Men’s Health, he wouldn’t trade the mental payoff for anything

WHEN TEZ STEINBERG was faced with an endless horizon of blue, colossal waves the size of buildings, crippling exhaustion and was using every ounce of strength to avoid capsizing during his record setting row from Hawaii to Australia, there were two mantras he would repeat to himself. The first was optimistic. “This will have a happy ending,” he would say, convincing his brain that he would push through even when his body was ready to quit. The second was more pragmatic. “There’s nowhere else I can go.”

Thousands of kilometres from safety and even further from the nearest landmass, there really was nowhere else for Steinberg to go. Despite an impressive track record in endurance events, which includes completing 46 marathons, two ironman triathlons and dozens of ultramarathons, according to Steinberg, his trans-Pacific trip was, by far, his greatest challenge ever. “The battles that I was facing were all interlinked, all compounded, and all an order of magnitude more difficult than anything I’d previously experienced,” Steinberg says. “It was a whole different ball game.”

During his voyage, Steinberg spent nearly his entire days in the same gruelling rowing motion under the scorching heat of the Pacific summer sun. To maintain energy and muscle mass, he was eating around 4,500 calories a day, comprising dehydrated meals, proteins bars and coconut oil. “It certainly doesn’t beat a fresh barbie, that’s for sure,” Steinberg says. He also had to carry his food and supplies with him, meaning that he left Hawaii with 800,000 calories on board and ate his way through it.

Physical tests were only part of the challenge though. Steinberg essentially spent four months in complete solitude, battling loneliness in addition to the conditions. “It felt like I never hit a stride during the row. Every week was a different challenge. Whether it was weather, equipment, cyclones and tropical storms, I was so short on energy that I only bathed with salt water from January to April,” Steinberg says. “These small things all compounded and just had me thinking a lot about the people in my life.”

So, what could possibly compel a man to endure such a gruelling physical and mental undertaking? Why would anyone put themselves through something that to the outside observer could appear to be some sadistic form of ritualised, self-inflicted torture? The answer lies in Steinberg’s past, and the vision he has for the ocean’s future.


Tez Steinberg


DESPITE HAVING TO be one of the fittest men on planet earth to accomplish his most recent achievement, Steinberg’s interest in pushing the limits of human endurance wasn’t born out of the need to get physically fit, but mentally stronger. “My journey with endurance sports started while going through depression,” Steinberg says. “I was in college,” he continues, before pausing to consider how much time had passed since then. “I haven’t done proper maths in a while, mate. The maths I’ve been doing has been like with my compass,” he explains, before eventually concluding that it was approximately 15 years ago.

To help improve his mental health, Steinberg’s roommate suggested training for a triathlon together, which is exactly what they did. “I found it helped me feel so much better. It gave me this sense of optimism in my life as I felt myself grow and achieve those goals,” Steinberg says. “That started this little snowball effect. I then did a sprint triathlon, a half-Ironman, an Ironman, marathons and then an ultramarathon. And after 10 to 12 years of going through that, I had completely shifted what I thought was possible.”

“It wasn’t just limited to the physical domain either. It spilled over and gave me a sense of awareness and possibility about what I can do in other areas,” Steinberg continues. For his first Ironman, Steinberg raised thousands of dollars for a Native American youth program, helping him realise what he had the power to do. “I knew it could not just be an impactful experience for me, but for other people too.”

This perspective was further entrenched in 2016, when Steinberg’s father took his own life. “His death taught me that life is short. That anything can happen, and I could be gone tomorrow. It made me think what am I going to do to make my life really count?”

It was around this time that Steinberg was first struck with the idea of rowing across an ocean, with his sights set on the crossing the Atlantic. That plan stalled when he struggled to raise the necessary funds to make the expedition possible. Instead, he turned his attention to the USA’s other coast and rowing from California to Hawaii. “At that point, about 125 people had rowed solo across the Atlantic, but only seven had rowed North America to Hawaii because it’s a significantly harder route. So I thought, ‘why not do something even more difficult?’”

Steinberg was physically fit, but he didn’t have much experience in rowing – especially over such long distances. He did little to acclimate himself in the lead up to the row either. “I was only able to swing three days of training in the boat,” he says. “I picked up the boat in Washington, did three days of training in a shallow bay, towed it down to California and pushed off. I’d never been to sea, wasn’t a sailor, wasn’t a rower.”

Despite his inexperience, Steinberg was able to conquer the voyage, becoming only the eighth person to row from California to Hawaii, and doing it in 71 days. He didn’t know it at the time, but that journey would become the first leg in his larger journey of crossing the Pacific in full. It would also serve as the impetus for his desire to accelerate ocean plastic solutions, exposing him to both the natural beauty of the ocean, and the forces threatening it. “I fell in love with the ocean. I found it to be so beautiful, but I was also shocked and heartbroken by how full of trash and plastic it is,” he says.



STEINBERG FINISHED HIS California to Hawaii row with a hunger to achieve even more. By 2022, he had decided on completing his trans-Pacific crossing by rowing from Hawaii to Australia and raising funds to remove plastic pollution from the ocean and to accelerate solutions to prevent it from getting there in the first place.

This time, Steinberg was taking his training more seriously, but found that was more difficult than anticipated. “Time in a rowing boat is helpful from a technical perspective, but from a physical perspective, it doesn’t really translate,” he says. “A rowing machine doesn’t translate much either, because it’s such a linear motion, and on the ocean I’m rowing and rocking back and forth.”

Steinberg focused on building functional strength, bolstering his core and shoring up his posterior chain. He also prioritised gaining mass, knowing he’d be shedding plenty of weight during the row – he’d go on to lose 13kg over the course of his voyage. By 2022, Steinberg was in “fantastic shape” and ready to take on another gruelling physical challenge. But then, disaster struck.

In July of 2022, Steinberg had a heart attack, ending any prospect of crossing the Pacific any time soon and forcing a focus switch from training to recovery. “I needed to reevaluate and put the entire project on hold,” Steinberg says. “Am I even fit enough to go for a walk? That’s a question I couldn’t answer at the time.”

In the months following his heart attack, Steinberg struggled to get back on his feet. He couldn’t get his heart rate above 80 beats per minute and had issues with glucose retention – a side effect of the prescription medicine he was taking. “No matter what I ate, my glucose was staying [low],” he says. “I would eat a candy bar and it wouldn’t affect my glucose, it would just go straight to fat. You just can’t function at that level. That’s hypoglycaemic.”

It took time, but Steinberg rebuilt himself from the ground up. One year on from the incident, he reattempted a workout he completed the day he had a heart attack and found he performed even better. “I was able to not just to recover from the heart attack, but come back stronger,” he says. That gave me the confidence to be able to attempt this world first expedition.”

The rest is, quite literally, history. A few months later, Steinberg began his journey across the Pacific. After 126 days at sea, he arrived in Port Douglas in late April, becoming the first and only person to row solo from Hawaii to Australia, nonstop.



Back on dry land, Steinberg is recovering from the crossing, reconnecting with friends and family, and while he won’t confirm it, he’s likely already mentally planning his next record-breaking feat of endurance, which brings us back to an earlier question.

Why, even with an unflinching commitment to a worthy cause, would anyone put themselves through such a demanding physical challenge as Steinberg’s? The man himself has a fairly simple explanation: to live life to its fullest.

“I’m not a martyr. I’m not out to make myself suffer. I do these things because I believe they can be rewarding experiences for me to personally grow, for me to explore and experience the world, and to show people what’s possible in their lives.” Steinberg says. “We all leave a lot of value on the table. We short sell ourselves and what we can possibly do. I really believe that most people will look back on their life and wish they did more.” Assuredly, Steinberg won’t be one of those people.


Tez Steinberg


To find out more about Steinberg’s journey and to donate to help solve the ocean plastic crisis, head to



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By Cayle Reid

Cayle Reid is a fan of everything sports and fitness. He spends his free time at the gym, on his surfboard or staying up late watching sports in incompatible time zones.

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