MEET THE CREW
Who is Alex Mason?
CREW ∙ JUNE 15, 2019
Alex, 36, is a multi-discipline adventurer, she has walked over 9,400 miles around the world, spent 6 months in the saddle cycle touring through Australia and Indonesia, and she has summited a few mountains. Alex has limited experience on the water but is keen to see if her arms work as well as her legs.
Why the challenge of rowing an Ocean?
You mean the sixty four thousand dollar question. The short answer is always – why not? But yeah, why do I want to row an ocean? There isn’t just one answer to that.
I am a bit scared about it and that makes it exciting, I feel like I need to take myself out of my comfort zone every now and then and this is definitely out of my comfort zone.
I want to feel the scale of the planet and the insignificance of me on it. I want to look at the stars and the sunsets and bioluminescence. I want to see whales and flying fish and dolphins.
I want to feel exhausted and sore. I want to feel the land under my feet when it’s over and get that sense of achievement you only get at the end of something arduous and difficult.
I want to be a part of a team, learn a whole bunch of new skills and learn new things about myself. And of course I want to be a part of wider change, we aren’t just rowing an ocean, we have the potential to redefine treatment for Parkinson’s Disease and PTSD.
Have you taken part in a big adventure before?
When I finished university in 2005 I was desperate to go and travel so I spent 6 months travelling and volunteering in Africa. I travelled through 10 countries, did stupid things like climbing Kilimanjaro, threw myslef out of a plane and white water rafted down the White Nile. I did everything I could because I thought that was going to be my one big trip before coming home and getting a boyfriend, job, house, car…
I did all of that until I got bored and ditched it all in search of a more fulfilling lifestyle. Since 2015 I have hiked over 9,400 miles across America and New Zealand on the Pacific Crest, Appalachian and Te Araroa Trails. I have cycled around 4,000 miles across Australia and Indonesia, I have climbed up to 6,500m on Mera Peak in the Himalayas and I have rowed across the English Channel.
What are you most looking forward to about rowing?
Hmm…well, I am under no illusion that most of it will be horrible. But I am looking forward to all of it, even the horrible bits. The isolation. The calm (before the inevitable storms). The sky. The wildlife…But most of all I am looking forward to being able to eat a lot without getting too fat.
What do you think the biggest challenges will be?
I think there will be so many challenges.
I love sleeping and it is definitely going to be hard to adapt to the new routine of sleeping for just an hour and a half at a time. Staying hydrated, because I’m not very good at that. Surviving in such a small space with 3 other people. The boredom, because it will be boring. We will be doing the same thing for 12 hours a day, and we are so used to constant mental stimulation nowadays, through endlessly updating news feeds and social channels, our attention spans have become shorter and shorter. Avoiding injury. The sweaty naked bodies. Pooing in a bucket…
Why am I doing this again!?
What 3 strengths do you think you will bring to the crew?
Mental resilience – I am pretty good at not giving up.
Fun, hopefully. What’s the point if you’re not having fun? Although I expect a lot of the time people will be laughing at me!
Lifting people up when they are down – if other people are having a bad time it makes me forget about my own ‘problems’ and I step in to mother mode.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
As cheesy as it sounds it has to be my Mum and Dad. Everything they do is with me in mind and I hope that everything I do makes them proud of me.
Also my grandparents, when I am deciding what I want to do with my life I often think – if my grandparents were here would they be proud of what I am doing now?
What advice would you give to your 10 year old self?
Here are 10 bits of advice to my 10 year old self from me at 36 years old.
- Fail. Fail hard. Fail spectacularly. Fail often. Failure makes you a better person. As long as you learn from it. And you can learn a lot from failure.
- Experiment more. Dye your hair purple. Wear the bright lipstick. Fall off your bike. Get the answer wrong. Spend more time trying new things. You might not succeed, but that’s ok (see point 1), and you might just find something you really love.
- Embrace your uniqueness and differences. Don’t try to fit in. Never aim for normal (it doesn’t exist). Never judge yourself against anyone else. Of all the people on the planet no two are exactly the same. That. Is. Your. Superpower. Learn to love the things you can’t change.
- Time. Time is precious. Don’t waste it on people who don’t deserve it. Ditch the toxic friendships quickly. Don’t be afraid to walk away from relationships that aren’t working. It’s true what the old people say: the older you get the quicker the time goes.
- Worry is the biggest waste of time. Don’t waste your precious time on worrying. Things have a way of working out, whether you worry about it or not, so don’t you worry ‘bout a thing.
- Your body is your greatest gift. Look after it. Fuel it well. Move it often.
- Don’t heap so much pressure on yourself. Decisions are not set in stone. It’s ok to change your mind. It’s ok to change direction.
- Be grateful and focus on the things you have, not the things you don’t have – you’ll realise you probably don’t need them anyway.
- Don’t save things for best. Use the nice soap. Wear the nice dress or the expensive jumper. Drink the champagne. Celebrate each and every day.
- Happiness is not a goal. Happiness is not a destination. You can, and need to, find happiness in the present and everyday. Happiness can be found in the little tiny things as well as the big things.
Aside from friends and family, what do you think you will miss most while you’re at sea?
It has to be food doesn’t it? Not eating anything fresh is going to take its toll after a while and those freeze dried meals lack a texture dimension – the crunch. I don’t eat a huge amount of meat at home, maybe twice a week, but when I am doing big physical challenges I always find myself craving a big, dirty, juicy, greasy, meaty burger, topped with cheese and pineapple and beetroot…
And walking. I like walking.
If you could only listen to one album for the whole crossing, what would it be?
It would have to be the Hamilton soundtrack. It is about 2 hours long so perfect for timing a rowing shift. There are also so many lyrics to learn which would keep my brain occupied.
What would you sing at a karaoke night?
In my head I like to think I could get up there and belt out something like And I Am Telling You from Dreamgirls, but the one small problem with that is that I can’t sing. However, I have been known to sing I Know Him So Well after a few drinks on more than one occasion, but I can’t decide whether I am Barbara Dixon or Elaine Page…
What will you bring as your luxury item?
Probably a hairbrush. Not for vanity, but because I have a lot of hair and I have gone a couple of months without brushing it before and that was a mistake, also no one wants loose tickly hairs floating around the cabin.
What is the most annoying habit other people have?
I could list off about 50 things here, but not listening has to be up near the top.
This is hard. There are so many books to choose from and I have read quite a few!…One of my favourites is The Humans by Matt Haig, or Bounce by Matthew Syed – that book changed my views on failure.
Tell us an interesting thing about you people should know…
I am also known as Puff Puff, or Puff or Puff Squared, but I’m not going to tell you why!