Leonardo Fioravanti Desires Everything
From a World Title to an extravagant life and more.
I’m with Leonardo Fioravanti in a club on the French Riviera. Next to us, two 50-year-old men stare through aviator sunglasses at a four-liter bottle of vodka that costs 7000 €. They look Saudi Arabian, maybe. They look like billionaires, definitely. 20-year-old girls flock to their table wearing wide smiles and tight dresses. They have the grace of swans. And the morals of vultures.
We’re shooting a short film in which Leo plays a Bond-like character to sell Stab x Quiksilver’s new boardshorts (buy here, now). This morning, he was fanging a Maserati up and down scenic hills on the coast. This afternoon, he was sipping cocktails on the deck of a luxury yacht in the Mediterranean. And now, we’re here, getting bottle service in a club known for hosting people like Jay-Z.
But somehow, this is not part of the shoot. This is just Leo.
The kid is one of a kind. He’s been a name to know in surfing since his pre-teens. A year ago, with much ado, he became the first ever Italian to qualify for the CT. And now, with less ado, he might be the first ever Italian to fall off the CT. But with talent and drive like his, re-qualification will come with ease — Leo talks about winning the World Title someday in a tone that makes you genuinely believe he’ll do it. He’s also an ambassador for Gucci and has been featured in some high-profile fashion magazines.
That’s a whirlwind of a life for someone who hasn’t yet turned 20 — why don’t we go ahead and talk about that?
Stab: So, that club. Wanna talk about how that came about?
Leo: I have a friend that does PR for clubs in Monaco. I asked him for some recommendations and he put me in touch with the manager, who was able to hook us up with a table.
Is that normal for you?
I wouldn’t say it’s normal. Almost everywhere I go, I go to surf. It’s pretty rare for me to go somewhere that has famous clubs or restaurants or anything. But whenever I get the chance, I try to do that kind of thing. I’m lucky enough to have friends with good contacts. In big cities, it’s really good to have people who can help set you up.
Tell me about your deal with Gucci.
I’m an ambassador for their jewelry and watches. It’s cool because I get to surf and chase waves for a job — which is the best thing in the world — but Gucci opens doors for me that are outside of all that. I’ve been able to go to some crazy events and do different shoots.
The flaws of attraction!
Have you met some interesting people through that?
Definitely. I went to the fashion show in Milan in September. There were actors, musicians, fashion people, Instagram people, all kinds of people. I like opportunities to talk about things that are completely different from surfing. It definitely opens my mind.
A lot of people say that surfing doesn’t have as much character as it used to. How do you feel about that?
I totally agree. 80 percent of the surfers are the same.
I wouldn’t say it’s normal. Almost everywhere I go, I go to surf. It’s pretty rare for me to go somewhere that has famous clubs or restaurants or anything. But whenever I get the chance, I try to do that kind of thing.
Do you try to break the mold?
For sure. I say 80 percent because there are guys like Mason Ho and Dane Reynolds who are totally different. And Kelly too, with everything that he’s done outside of our world. But there are a lot of people who think about surfing and not much else. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but I try to mix it up. I want to expand myself, you know? Surfing and winning are still the most important things in my life, but I want to explore any other opportunity at the same time.
How’d your first year on the CT compare to your expectations?
It was a lot different. To be honest, I thought I was going to do better. Growing up, I didn’t really lose that much in the Juniors and on the QS. But this year, I couldn’t even make a heat in the first four events. It was driving me crazy. There were times when I was pretty much crying, times when I thought about quitting. Right now, I still have a chance to re-qualify at Pipe — but, honestly, I’m OK with whatever happens. I’m excited to face any challenge ahead.
You’ve had some good heats through all that though.
I’m surfing better than I’ve ever surfed before. I guess I have a higher average heat score than some people in the top 15 or even top 10, but I don’t think about that much. To succeed on tour, you need to consistently beat the best surfers in the world. That’s a really hard thing to do. So many of the heats are true battles. If I fall off, it’s because I wasn’t a good enough surfer or a good enough competitor. I definitely learned a lot this year.
What have you learned?
Mostly, I learned how to lose. I learned that instead of freaking out, you have to do something about it. You have to figure out how to be better next time so it doesn’t happen again. That’s what I’m working on now.
So, what’s your goal now?
Right now, my goal is to have fun, learn as much as I can and enjoy life. But in the long term, my goal is to win a World Title. In the next 5-7 years, I really want to be going for that.
What’s your surfing going to look like in 5-7 years?
I have so much to improve on. Airs. Power. Flow. Everything. The crazy thing is that everyone can get better — even John and Gabriel, which is insane to think about. I want my surfing to improve every day. Every single surf, I focus on different things to work on.
We're just gonna say it, Leo is smoking!
About a year ago, you were voted the best Lady Killer by your peers in a poll by Surfing Magazine. You think you still hold onto that title?
[Laughs] I actually hate being called the Italian Stallion. It’s such a cheap name — I don’t know how that even started. But am I still the best Lady killer? I don’t know. I just be myself. And if girls like me then cool, let’s enjoy it, right?