Sail Talk with Warwick Fleury
- SAIL TALK - Sail Talk - Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2023
Sail Talk with Warwick Fleury

New Zealander Warwick Fleury is an America’s Cup veteran with eight campaigns under his belt. Last year, during the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, became seriously ill while racing on Cannonball.

Welcome back to Porto Cervo Warwick. What exactly happened to you during the last edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup?

Warwick: It was an aortic dissection, that was the medical term. We didn't know what it was at the time. It took several hours to diagnose, but once they did in Olbia, it was straight to Sassari for a major eight-hour operation. They did an amazing job and basically saved my life.

Do you believe that the real victory is being here in Porto Cervo one year later and sailing on the same boat?

Warwick: I think so, yes! At the time, I was just lucky, just happy to still be around. Coming back to Sardinia in a year's time was not even in my thoughts at all.

When did the opportunity to come back materialise?

Warwick: Well, I made it back to New Zealand at the end of October last year. I spent some time recovering here and some time in the US because it was too far for me to fly all the way to New Zealand, so we stopped in the US for about four weeks. I made it home and then spent the summer at home recovering. In about March, I was asked by the Cannonball team if I felt well enough to sail, and I felt that I was. I wasn't 100% sure, but we had some training in Valencia in March, and I got through that and felt fine. So I made the decision to carry on with the season, and Sardinia was a part of the programme, so I was able to make it back here.

What about sailing here in Porto Cervo? It's a special place that everyone normally likes. How many years have you been coming to Porto Cervo?

Warwick: I've been coming here for a long, long time. This place, Porto Cervo, was my first big overseas yachting trip. I did the 12-metre World Championships in 1984. Yes, that's right. At the time, New Zealand was just looking at whether they could possibly do an America's Cup campaign.

What boat where were you sailing on?

Warwick: The boat was Enterprise. It was a training boat that I think the Azzurra team had. And we chartered it from Azzurra.

During the training days here at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup you had a sailing trip with the doctors who operated on you, can you tell me more about that?

Warwick: Yes, my surgeon, Francesco Orru, and his partner, who was my anaesthetist during the operation, have stayed in touch since the operation. I was able to invite them out for a sail, a training day, which I was very happy to do. In fact I went to meet them for lunch in Sassari and went back to the hospital to say hello to everyone there.

Welcome back Warwick!