SPALDWICK sailor Brian Appleyard will be going all out to retain the Gold Roman Bowl when he lines up for the Round the Island Race at the end of the month.

SPALDWICK sailor Brian Appleyard will be going all out to retain the Gold Roman Bowl when he lines up for the Round the Island Race at the end of the month.

The skipper will be among 16,000 sailors taking on the famous 50 nautical mile course around the Isle of Wight as the event celebrates its 80th anniversary on Saturday June 25.

From 25 boats in 1931, the race has become one of Britain's biggest sporting participation events, and more than 1,700 vessels are expected to take to the water in 2011.

With its distinctive 'race for all' ethos and handicap system, it's a chance for amateurs to give the champions a run for their money.

Grafham Water Sailing Club sailor Appleyard finished second overall in 2009 before claiming the top prize a year later in his 25ft Nordic folkboat Nordic Bear, and says he will do all he can to bring home the bowl for a second year running.

"You have to be realistic and say the chances of winning it again are slim because there are so many variables, and you have to have a little bit of luck too," said Appleyard.

"But it's guaranteed we will be giving it our best shot to see what we can achieve. Last year everything fell into place: we had a tremendous start, it wasn't too windy and the conditions throughout the race played into our hands.

"I'm a competitive person and a competitive racer and having finished second the year before I was determined to see if we could go that one step on.

"You never really know just how well you've done until the overall results are calculated so we were delighted when we discovered we had won the Gold Roman Bowl. We don't want to give it up without a fight."

Regardless of the outcome on June 25, Appleyard is looking forward to making more memories at a race that has been kind to him over the years.

He said: "It's a tremendous spectacle and so well organised.

"The first time we did the race, in 2005 in my old wooden Folkboat Folkdance, there was very little breeze and there was this magical moment as all these boats, with their bright spinnakers set, drifted up the Solent as the sun set.

"We drifted through the finish line about 20 minutes before the race closed.

"It is a race but it also conjures up unforgettable moments like this."