The very day an in-form Leonardo Fioravanti landed an impressive air in the dying seconds of the Final to steal a win at the Sydney Surf Pro in Manly (his biggest ever with 10,000 points up for grabs), the WSL announced that the ironically rebadged Corona Open on the Gold Coast had been cancelled as the world slipped deeper into the grips of the coronavirus pandemic.

Leo Fioravanti celebrating his win in this year's Sydney Surf Pro, at Manly. Photo: Dunbar/WSL

With Europe on lockdown he chose to stay in Australia, calling a rented house in Byron Bay home for the past month. When asked how this has affected his life, Leo puts a positive spin on it. “It’s been exciting this month knowing I’m not competing. I’m lucky enough to be in Australia and to be able to surf. I’m just really working on my surfing and pushing my level”.

 In the water, Leo says people are trying to do the right thing in terms of obeying social distancing rules. “People are definitely trying. It’s been a bit tough for me surfing and knowing that my whole family is locked up at home so I’ve been playing my part, only really going to the beach to surf and coming home. If we all play our part I think we’ll get through this”.

Leo Fioravanti with his foot on the gas at Snapper Rocks. Photo: Swilly

With Leo, you get the feeling that not surfing isn’t an option. Like most of us, he is crossing his fingers that people continue to do the right thing and the authorities don’t elect to close beaches. “France has had some pumping waves and not one person out. When you’re out (surfing) you leave all your problems on the beach. (In Australia) surfing is the one thing that is keeping everybody sane”.

 Leo remains optimistic that there may still be a 2020 WCT year. “There’s a bit of hope. It would suck to have a year of nothing but if it happens it happens. We have bigger problems in this world to focus on. There’s not much we can do except be positive”.