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Jamie Douglas-Hamilton tackles expedition from South America to Antarctica

Newcastle Geography alumnus, Jamie Douglas-Hamilton attempts a world first expedition to row the infamous Drake Passage from South America to Antarctica.

ACTIPH Water founder Jamie Douglas-Hamilton is attempting to enter the history books with a world first, to row 750 miles unassisted and without wind power from Cape Horn in South America to mainland Antarctica across Drake Passage, considered the most dangerous ocean crossing in the world. 

The expedition has been codenamed The Impossible Row, as no one has rowed this far South before and crossed the Drake Passage by human power alone. Not only can seas reach up to 80 feet in the Southern Ocean but the crew will be rowing against the current. Jamie is the only British member of a team of six who will row in 90-minute shifts around the clock, with little to no sleep for 24 hours a day for around three weeks in cold to freezing conditions.

Jamie said “When I was a boy I read Endurance about Shackleton’s rescue voyage when they sailed from Elephant Island to South Georgia in a small life boat and I couldn’t believe the hardship they went through. It is exciting but slightly scary that we are going in a similar size boat that is lower to the sea and that we are rowing against the waves and current which will be dragging us East, as we will be rowing Southwards.”

He will be leaving the UK week commencing 9/12 and setting off from Cape Horn on Thursday, weather depending. The expedition will end by Friday 31 December, by which point the team hope to have rowed through to mainland Antarctica.

Entrepreneur Jamie, who founded ACTIPH Water in 2017, is not new to adventure. Following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, 14th Duke of Hamilton and commander of 602 City of Glasgow squadron, who was the first to fly over the summit of Mount Everest in 1933 in an open cockpit biplane. In 2014, Jamie was part of a team who set two Guinness World Records by rowing 5,000 miles across the vast Indian Ocean, all the way from Australia to Africa. Jamie founded his water company following the expedition as he discovered that high pH alkaline water offered greater hydration to high performing athletes.

Fiann Paul from Iceland is captaining this expedition and has broken the Guinness rowing speed record on the Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and Arctic Oceans. If successful he will be the first person in history to have held Guinness World Records on all oceans. Colin O’Brady is first mate and is a four-time world record holder who last year was the first to trek solo and unassisted across Antarctica. Other members of the team include Cameron Bellamy who has just completed the longest open channel swim in history when he swam from Barbados to St. Lucia. Andrew Towne is an ultra-endurance athlete and rower and John Peterson captained Yale’s rowing team.

The expedition is being recorded by the Discovery Channel, which is sending the aptly named Braveheart vessel to follow the journey, however the boat will offer no support or supplies to the athletes. The expedition can be followed online with updates on Twitter at @actiphwater and @discovery.

Jamie Douglas-Hamilton
Photo Credit: Actiph Water

published on: 5 December 2019