UPDATE 1-BP CEO attends yacht race, sparks new controversy

* White House’s Emanuel says it is Hayward’s latest gaffe

* Opinion mixed among Gulf Coast residents
(Recasts, adds reaction)

WASHINGTON, June 19 (BestGrowthStock) – BP Plc (BP.L: ) (BP.N: ) CEO
Tony Hayward watched a yacht race off the English coast on
Saturday, sparking new controversy in the United States as his
company struggles to plug its huge Gulf of Mexico oil leak.

Sheila Williams, a spokeswoman for the British energy
giant, said Hayward was spending time with his teenage son at
the Isle of Wight boat race after devoting most of the past two
months to the oil spill away from his family.

Hayward was lambasted by angry U.S. lawmakers at a
congressional hearing on Thursday, where he was accused of
ducking responsibility for the spill.

The Obama administration, which has been harshly critical
of Hayward over some of his public statements since the spill
began in April, renewed its criticism of the CEO over his
attendance at the race.

“This has just been part of a long line of PR gaffes and
mistakes,” White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said in an
interview taped for ABC’s “This Week” week program, referring
to Hayward.

President Barack Obama, who has been criticized for his
administration’s response to the spill, himself attended a
baseball game in Washington on Friday night and played golf on
Saturday.

Obama wondered aloud in a television interview this month
about “whose ass to kick” over the BP spill and said that if
Hayward had worked for him, he would have fired him.

Hayward was also widely criticized and quickly apologized
for complaining he wanted his “life back” weeks after the April
20 Deepwater Horizon offshore rig explosion that killed 11
workers and led to the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

“Well, to quote Tony Hayward, he’s got his life back, as he
would say,” Emanuel said, commenting on his attendance at the
yacht race. “And I think we can all conclude that Tony Hayward
is not going to have a second career in PR consulting.”

“There’s really a substance here that matters,” Emanuel
added. “That’s clearly a PR mistake, but he’s made a number of
those mistakes. What’s important is: are we capping the well?
Are we capturing the oil? Are we containing the cleanup? Are we
filing the claims? Are we also cleaning up the mess? That’s
what’s important.”

Opinion about Hayward’s attendance at the race was mixed
among residents of the U.S. Gulf Coast, hard hit by the spill.

“You’ve got to think about all the fish that are dying out
there, all the birds that are dying … and that’s going to
never come back,” said Venice, Louisiana resident, Wilma Buras.
“So Hayward going out wasn’t the best way … absolutely not.”

Jim Bowman, a recreational fisherman in Venice, said there
was a lot of work to be done cleaning up the spill, but “family
is the most important thing, so he’s got to spend time with his
family.”

Investment Analysis

(Reporting by Will Dunham; Additional reporting by Lindsay
Claiborn and Jeffrey Jones; Editing by Peter Cooney)

UPDATE 1-BP CEO attends yacht race, sparks new controversy