15 Mins With…
Actiph Water founder Jamie Douglas-Hamilton
In the summer of 2014, Jamie Douglas-Hamilton – grandson of the rst man to y over Mount Everest – was in a spot of bother. Floating in the middle of the Indian Ocean, he and the rest of the six-man rowing crew were battered, beaten and bereft of energy. After setting o from south-west Australia, they had endured vicious storms, equipment loss, a mid-ocean rescue (after one of the crew su ered serious boilingwater burns), and even a collision with a blue whale.
Now, with over 1,000 miles still to row before they would reach their destination of the Seychelles, fatigue, tension and hallucinations were taking their toll. Until, that is, a moment of seeming madness turned the expedition around…
Jamie, talk us through the origins of Actiph Water.
“is all started when a group of six of us rowed from Australia to South Africa. It’s very physical: you’re burning 10,000 calories a day, doing two hours on, two hours o , for two-and-a-half months. “We were drinking anything from nine to 13 litres of water a day, and that’s pure water with very little salt. at meant our electrolyte balances went right down, which caused all sorts of issues. We had much less power in the water – especially on the night shifts – and we were hallucinating quite a bit.
“One day, one of the crew mixed his fresh water with quarter of a bottle of sea water. We all thought he was going to end up frothing at the mouth and that it would be devastating for him, but it wasn’t. He encouraged us to try it and we were pretty surprised by the impact it had. Normally you would start to ag at the end of a two-hour session – the last 40 minutes would be very di cult – but actually we had power the whole way through, even on the night shifts.
“As a result, we broke two Guinness World Records: one for the fastest crossing
and one for the longest crossing of the Indian Ocean. I don’t think that was because of how
t we were; I think it was because of what we drank.”
What exactly is Actiph Water?
“After that row, I did some research and came across this water on the market in Japan, which is ionised and alkaline. at involves splitting the water through a process of ionic separation, to create a very highly alkaline water that acts as an anti-in ammatory in the gut. It was rst brought out for people with digestive issues, but it’s now being researched for its bene ts into all sorts of ailments. It gets into the blood much quicker than ordinary water, and there was a big study done in 2016 – published in the International Society of Sports Nutrition – proving that. “Alkaline water prevents your body working so hard to regulate the pH imbalance, meaning your e orts can be concentrated on the performance at and”
“at led me to research the market in America, and alkaline water is the fastest growing beverage category in the US. No one had done it in Europe, though, which was the spark for Actiph. Two-and-a-half years after the launch, we’re now in 6,000 retailers and 15 countries. We’re looking to more than double that over the next nine months.”
What are the main performance bene ts?
“Our diets have become so acidic in the last 50 years, and even though your body will do everything it can to self-regulate, if you’ve got an acid diet you are putting more strain on your internal bu ering systems to keep your blood at the high pH. Alkaline water prevents your body working so hard to regulate the pH imbalance, meaning your e orts can be concentrated on the performance at hand.”
Away from Actiph, you recently completely a record-breaking row across the Drake Passage – what makes that such a feat?
“e Drake Passage has been feared by seafarers for hundreds of years. It’s estimated almost 10,000 people have died trying to cross it. e Passage is where the Atlantic, the Paci c and the Southern Oceans meet – in-between South America and Antarctica.
“You’ve got all these Oceans meeting at a very narrow choke point, and you’ve also got the Antarctic Circumpolar Current – the most powerful and only fully looped current in the world – which goes from west to east. So you have all the right ingredients for huge waves and incredibly violent storms, and add to that the fact that you’re rowing across the current – in a very small boat.
“ose 12 days felt like four to six weeks. e Southern Ocean never gives you a break. Every time you think you’re out of a storm, another comes through. I was amazed we didn’t get capsized.”