Jamie Douglas-Hamilton is attempting to enter the history books with a world first, rowing 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 foot 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 Britain this week and setting off from Cape Horn on Thursday 9 December, 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.
Jamie said: “Everyone told us we are crazy to attempt this and that is why it has been named ‘the Impossible Row’ but I believe anything is possible if you really commit to something. This will be hardest challenge any of us have faced but we have a very fit and determined team. The most frightening part is the huge waves expected to hit us side on but we have planned for every eventuality, so we are ready to face whatever the Drake Passage throws at us.”
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.