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Five World Records broken by alumnus Jamie Douglas-Hamilton

A team of rowers including alumnus Jamie Douglas-Hamilton became the first to row the notorious Drake Passage.

Alumnus, Jamie Douglas-Hamilton and his team of rowers became the first to row from Cape Horn in Chile to Antarctica, battling brutal storms and freezing conditions in the notorious Drake Passage – the world’s most treacherous stretch of water.

The team of six spent nearly two weeks rowing 24 hours per day in shifts of 90 minutes on and 90 minutes off, to complete the journey of 655.2 nautical miles. During the trip they dodged icebergs and severe storms with waves reaching 40 feet and had to pull themselves every step of the way with adverse currents.

Jamie said: “We were hit by winds from every single direction and the seas down there are very violent — it’s the roughest ocean in the world. We almost capsized many times, and the problem with that is the water is so cold that if you go in, you’ve probably got two to five minutes.”

Guinness World Records Editor-in-Chief, Craig Glenday, said: “This row represents one of the most significant human-powered adventures ever undertaken.”

Jamie said: “In the 12 days we endured a lot of pain, exhaustion, sleep deprivation and severe cold which has now led to frost nip in my feet and fingers, a condition that takes weeks or even months to recover from. I also lost two stone in weight, but all the pain and suffering disappeared as we reached the South Shetland Islands and rowed through the most pristine and beautiful landscape I have ever seen. We passed icebergs the size of towns and islands that looked like Himalayan peaks and were followed by orcas, whales and thousands of penguins for the last 150 miles.”

 The Guinness World Record team confirmed five world records, of which three are of their highest standing as ‘world firsts’ and will remain in their record books forever;

  1. First Row across Drake Passage
  2. First Row on the Southern Ocean
  3. First to row to the Antarctic continent

The records were ratified by the Ocean Rowing Society and tracked using GPS.

Jamie said “This challenge was labelled ‘The Impossible Row’ as everyone told us we were crazy to even try it and that it could never be done. We believed we had a chance with the right preparation, training, team and determination. Just like my grandad’s expedition over Mount Everest inspired me to take up challenges that led to rowing the Indian Ocean and founding ACTIPH Water, I hope in time this expedition will inspire people to follow their dreams and to challenge the status quo. What might seem impossible rarely is if you truly believe in what you are doing and are determined to make it a reality.”

Wayne Ranney, a Flagstaff, Arizona-based geologist who has led expeditions to Antarctica and crossed the Drake Passage in motorized vessels more than 50 times said: “This is a really big deal in Antarctic history. One hundred percent of their progress was done with those 12 arms for more than 600 (nautical) miles. That’s just phenomenal. I can’t even imagine.”

With the team representing four countries and three continents, Jamie Douglas-Hamilton was the only Brit on the expedition. Other team members included Fiann Paul from Iceland who captained the expedition and has now become the first person in history to have held Guinness World Records on the Indian, Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic and now Southern Oceans. Colin O’Brady was the first mate and last year became the first person in history to walk across Antarctica unaided, other members of the team include ultra-endurance swimmer Cameron Bellamy who rowed 5,000 miles across the Indian Ocean with Jamie and championship rowers Andrew Towne and John Peterson.

Entrepreneur Jamie is part of a family of adventurers, his grandfather, Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, 14th Duke of Hamilton and commander of 602 City of Glasgow squadron, 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 – meaning he now holds an incredible seven Guinness World Records.

Jamie founded his water company (ACTIPH Water) following the Indian Ocean expedition as he discovered that high pH alkaline water offered greater hydration to high performing athletes. He won Great British Entrepreneur of the year for Scotland and Northern Ireland at the Royal Bank of Scotland Great British Entrepreneur Awards in 2018. ACTIPH Water was launched in 2017 and is now stocked across the country in major supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Wholefoods and Ocado.

The expedition was recorded by Discovery, airing as a 1.5 hour documentary on the Discovery Channel in 210 countries.

The official Guinness World Record entry can be found here

Photo by Discovery

published on: 30 January 2020