Beleaguered BP boss attends yacht race: reports

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BP boss Tony Hayward attended Saturday a prestigious yacht race in Britain, media reported, the day after it was confirmed he was handing over daily control of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The story sparked fury from environmental groups in Britain, who said it was "yet another public relations disaster" for Hayward and BP, whose handling of the crisis has been slammed in the United States.

Hayward's racing yacht "Bob", which is co-owned with two others, took part in the JP Morgan Asset Management Round The Island Race, which sees hundreds of yachts race around the Isle of Wight, off England's south coast.

The BP chief executive was spotted supporting his yacht, media reported, although the company refused to confirm his presence.

"We wouldn't dream of commenting on what the chief executive does in his rare moments of private time," a spokeswoman said when asked about the race, adding Hayward was spending time with his son.

BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said Friday Hayward was handing over day-to-day management of the Gulf oil leak operation.

That announcement came a day after Hayward faced a barrage of hostile questions from US lawmakers about the spill that began after an explosion ripped through the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon oil rig.

The decision by Hayward -- who said he would "like my life back" last month -- to attend the race was sharply criticised by environmental campaigners in Britain.

Greenpeace's Charlie Kronick said his actions were "rubbing salt into the wounds" of those affected by the US's worst environmental disaster.

"Clearly it is incredibly insulting for him to be sailing in the Isle of Wight but the fact is that him being there hasn't stopped the leak," he said. "It is a disaster in every sense".

Hugh Walding, a spokesman for Friends of the Earth on the Isle of Wight, added: "I'm sure that this will be seen as yet another public relations disaster for him from people who have got exceedingly upset about this whole thing.

"Personally I don't think that the bloke is particularly competent from the results that he has delivered."

"Bob" is a Farr 52 racing yacht which is worth around 300,000 euros (370,000 dollars). It finished the race fourth in its class, according to the event's official website.

© 2010 AFP

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