Coccoluto Grabs the Headlines – Neom Day One

Published 19th October 2022 by Andrea Susanne Opielka


19th October 2022
Day One: Qatar Airways GKA Freestyle-Kite World Cup Neom

Freestyle heaven at Neom Beach Games


The rich, deep turquoise hues of the lagoon water contrasting the yellow sands of the Neom Beach Games kite spot looked out of this world, but it was the 8.87 that Gianmaria Coccoluto scored for his tail grabbed KGB7 in heat three of round three that was the stand out visual on day one of the Qatar Airways GKA Freestyle-Kite World Cup Neom.

This brand new location has made a very favourable impression on the freestyle riders. Constantly craving ideal flat waters for their tricks, the athletes are helped as much by very clean take-offs as they are by such assured and consistent landings.

The wind dropped just before the end of round three, but winning their heats and already advancing directly to round five were Juan Rodriguez, Maxime Chabloz, Gianmaria Coccoluto, Arthur Guillebert, Manoel Soares and Posito Martinez.


The day begin early with a rider’s briefing at 8am in order to make use of the better morning winds. A small handful of heats for the unranked riders and wildcards followed to find the riders that would join the top seeded tour riders in the eight heats that made up round three.

Juan Rodriguez (COL), currently lying in third on tour, was the first big name to test the waters against Belgian Goetgebuer and Egyptian Moussa.

The Colombian won easily and, when asked about being the first man to land a 7 ever in competition in Saudi Arabia, he said,

“I’m really happy because this is my first time in Saudi Arabia. The guys at the Neom Beach Games have helped a lot with all the food and the set up and the accommodation, it’s really good. Yeah I like the freestyle conditions, because in Colombia at my home spot we don’t have freestyle waters like this!”

Maxime Chabloz was next to compliment the set-up, after banging home a win in R3 heat two that contained a high trick score of 8.33 for a massive 319. Only he and Coccoluto would break heat scores of 30 points on day one.

“Conditions are good. We have flat water, it’s a bit gusty,” said the Swiss ripper, who is also a current Freeride Ski World Champion, “… but I like having flat water best. I started off with an easy trick and then went for heart attack 7, which I have locked like 99% of the time, but I guess I hit the one percent and crashed. I then wanted to try something new, so look out for that later in the heats.”

Gianmaria Coccoluto was up next in heat three, but had a testy fight on his hands against Luiz Alberto Cruz who can always bring the biggest tricks. The Domincan looked over powered and just couldn’t add in the extra poise and style we know him for. Cocco kept the pressure on and remained in control throughout.

In his interview with Lewis on the livestream, the popular Italian answered the questions very simply:

Great performance Cocco, tell us about it.
“Wind was good, I did almost all my tricks, including KGB7, 317 so I’m super happy.”

Why do you take a bigger kite than the others? (Gianmaria took an 11m when others were on 9s and 10s in the 25 knot winds).
“I take always one metre more so I can have my kite extra low for more points, and to add an extra grab.”

What are your goals here?
“I’m going to win this event, bro.”

Perhaps he will! Everyone knows Coccoluto is due a win, but he’ll have to beat the world’s most fearsome freestylers.

Going Cocco

The wind dropped too much to continue the event around 1pm local time, but having already reared up and looking in very relaxed form, doing just enough to also win their R3 morning heats were current tour leader Manoel Soares, 2021 World Champion Arthur Guillebert and powerful all-round kiter Posito Martinez.


The winds here are always stronger in the mornings and with the technical set-ups of day one clear and the seeding rounds complete, we look forward to cranking straight into the heart of the action tomorrow, re-starting the last heat of men’s R3, between Adeuri Corniel, Valentin Rodriguez and Luca Seer.

Plus, look out for the women getting their second event of the season underway.

No doubt, this event is only just starting to really rumble into life…

First possible start is 9am local Neom / Saudi Arabia time (GMT +3). See you there!

Watch the livestream and also find all the heat ladders and more on the official event live page:


Report: Jim Gaunt
Photos: Svetlana Romantsova



NEOM, the sustainable regional development taking shape in northwest Saudi Arabia, hosts the NEOM Beach Games 2022, bringing together leading world class sport events with high performance athletes from over 25 countries, as the region aims to become a hub for sport. The series of major sport events will launch on October 19 and feature five dynamic sports; kitesurfing, triathlon, 3×3 basketball, beach soccer and mountain biking.

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