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Chestertown native succeeds in rowing to Hawaii; First time a rower has made it on the first try
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Chestertown native succeeds in rowing to Hawaii; First time a rower has made it on the first try

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A Chestertown native who went to school in Glens Falls has become the first person to succeed on their first try of rowing across the Pacific Ocean.

Tez Steinberg spent the summer rowing solo from California to Hawaii. He finished the 2,500-mile trek on Friday.

Seven other rowers have managed the feat — but none on their first try.

As he arrived in the harbor, he stood up in his boat, waving two red sparklers overhead. He rowed nearly continuously for the last 36 hours of the trip.

In a video blog at sunrise Sunday, he said he had been rowing for 24 hours and had only 35 miles to go, so he intended to just keep rowing.

“I was watching the sun rise over Maui and it’s a beautiful sight,” he said.

Steinberg planned to row as a way to raise money to send two people to his alma mater — United World Colleges.

He wanted to raise $75,000. But as Hawaii came into sight, he had raised $26,000.

He recorded an upbeat video blog anyway, saying that he was still hoping for more donations.

“I know it sounds crazy, but so is rowing across an ocean. You know, anything is possible,” he said.

Then, during the night, someone donated $10,000. And as he pulled toward shore in those last 12 hours, he raised another $17,000, putting his total at $53,000. That’s enough to provide a full scholarship for one student and a half scholarship for another student. To add to that total, donate at https://unitedworldchallenge.org/.

Reached on Monday, he said he was still hoping to reach $75,000.

“The row is complete but the mission continues until we hit our goal of raising $75,000 for scholarships to United World College of the USA,” he said, adding philosophically, “It’s amazing what we can achieve when we fully dedicate ourselves. Stroke by stroke, anything is possible.”

Steinberg almost had to quit two weeks into the trip. His rowing seat — which glides back and forth — broke. Bolts sheered off under the seat, near the wheels — in a place where the rowing shell company had never before had a problem, so he did not have replacements.

He spent weeks rebuilding the seat repeatedly before finally deciding to stop using the wheels altogether.

He locked down the wheels on the left side, where the bolts had broken, so that they could not turn. He used coconut oil to lubricate them so that they could slide back and forth with the force of his rowing.

All day, he would squirt them with oil, he said. But the oil was washed away by sea water, so he filled the drainage holes on that side of the boat with old cans and other containers, to protect the oil. Of course, this meant he had to bail more often, but at least his seat worked.

You can reach Kathleen Moore at 742-3247 or kmoore@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @ByKathleenMoore or at her blog on www.poststar.com.

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Tez Steinberg poses with his boat in the Pacific Ocean. Steinberg is on a solo row across the Pacific Ocean to raise money for college scholarships.

This is Tez Steinberg's view as he rows across the Pacific Ocean. Steinberg is on a solo row to Hawaii to raise money for college scholarships.

Tez Steinberg's rowboat is seen here in a photo taken by Steinberg while swimming. Steinberg is on a solo row across the Pacific Ocean to rais…

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