SPALDWICK sailor Brian Appleyard triumphed over an international fleet to win the Golden Roman Bowl at the Isle of Wight Round the Island race.

SEA HERE: The view of the fleet from Nordic Bear.

After winning the Silver Roman Bowl for a second-placed finish last year, Appleyard and crewmen Tim Hemsley and Bruce Hill went one better to guide their boat Nordic Bear to a remarkable win over a total fleet of more than 1,700 boats.

Appleyard, 53, told The Hunts Post: "It's just incredible. We knew after last year's performance that the boat was good and that the crew had experience, but it all came together brilliantly on the day for us.

"We had no idea during the race that we were leading, but we got an inkling we might have done well after we crossed the line.

"We didn't know we'd won until I got a text message from a friend. They had been watching the website and had seen we were the provisional winners, so they knew before we did.

"To beat so much better-funded competition was such a great feeling. I described it to someone as being like the housewife who trains the Grand National winner, and beats all the professionals."

Appleyard said that he and his crew had made the most of the handicap system, maximising the advantages afforded by having a smaller and nimbler boat than many of their competitors.

"It's often a small boat that wins the Round the Island race, as you are able to take the shortest route by going through the shallows. The larger boats can't get as tight to the shore," he said.

Appleyard said he knew Nordic Bear had potential to compete for the Golden Roman Bowl, but that conditions had made things especially difficult on the day.

"There were moments when we lost the wind under the cliffs, but we found enough eventually to get us round. Tim managed to get us off to a great start, timing us through the line perfectly in difficult conditions and that really helped.

"When we finished we knew that we had done well, but we weren't sure until about 40 minutes after we'd finished. As the fourth-slowest boat by handicap, we knew it was going to take something special to beat us.

"After being so close last year it feels fantastic to have come back and won it."