Oil and water do mix as ex-boss of BP donates yacht to Gosport-based charity

DONATION The donated yacht, and Tony Hayward, inset
DONATION The donated yacht, and Tony Hayward, inset
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HE caused a storm when caught racing in the Solent during a major oil crisis.

Now former BP boss Tony Hayward is giving away his £250,000 yacht to a Gosport-based armed forces charity.

Tony Hayward

Tony Hayward

In 2010, Mr Hayward was criticised for sailing the 52ft yacht – named Bob – in the Round the Island race during the height of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

It’s now been revealed that he and fellow owners Sam Laidlaw and Rob Gray, are donating the yacht to Toe in the Water.

And all three have pledged funds to get the yacht – previously named Bear of Britain – into tip-top condition for the forthcoming season.

Charity director Tanya Brookfield said: ‘We don’t own any of our own boats at the moment, so to be given a £250,000 racing yacht is going to make a phenomenal difference to us. It’s a special boat and it’s a huge asset for us.

‘She’s in a shed in Cowes at the moment being worked on, so we won’t see her in her new livery until the day before the renaming ceremony next week.’

The charity works closely with Headley Court, the defence medical rehabilitation centre, to re-inspire injured servicemen and women.

Chairman of the charity Major General Mike von Bertele expressed his thanks, adding: ‘The boat will provide an excellent platform for some of our more seriously injured people to rediscover their confidence and sense of adventure by reigniting their sense of self-worth in a competitive team environment.’

Since starting in 2008, Toe in the Water has borrowed or chartered boats to enter teams on the yacht racing circuit.

Mr Hayward said: ‘We’re delighted to be able to support the work of Toe in the Water by donating Bob and hope that she proves a useful asset for such a worthy cause.

‘She’s a fast boat with a fine racing pedigree and we’re confident that her Toe in the Water crews will continue to push her hard to deliver top results.’

The boat will be renamed Toe in the Water in a ceremony at the Joint Services Adventure Sail Training Centre in Gosport, next Friday.