Sailing: Gatehouse steers clear of trouble

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MARK GATEHOUSE was viewing his return to short-handed ocean racing with some apprehension from his home port of Plymouth yesterday. As he left Queen Anne's Battery in the Open 60 Victoria Group, with a mixed 41-boat collection of racers, enthusiasts and wannabes, for the first 230-mile leg of the Royal Western's Two-Handed Round Britain and Ireland Race, he knew they were facing a tough opening 24 hours uphill in fresh, 20- knot winds.

But of the second leg from Cork to Barra round the southern coast if Ireland, he said, "The thing that really scares me is the danger of fouling a fishing net." The worst are the illegal salmon, netters and still vivid in his memory is running into one, and then seeing the fisherman approach in a boat, his face covered in a terrorist balaclava, and pointing a shotgun at him.