Print and Go Back Surfing [Print without images]

Friday, October 29, 2010
Updated: November 2, 11:52 AM ET
The Prince of Pungo

Jersey is Guido. Floridians are rednecks and Californians are shallow and so ... so "bro."

These stereotypes suck. Transcending them is near impossible in our suspicious, frat house culture. Unless you live in a celebrated performance hotbed like San Clemente or Haleiwa, your legitimacy as a "real surfer" will always be compromised.

Lucas Rogers' bread and butter.

When it comes to surf stigmas, growing up in the valley ain't nothing compared to growing up in the sticks. But despite hailing from the bucolic back hairs of Virginia Beach, VA, in a place called Pungo, Lucas Rogers nonetheless carries the rep of one of the most dynamic and photogenic aerial surfers on the East Coast. However, his recent entry into Taylor Steele's online video contest,, shows that Lucas isn't running from his decidedly uncool image, but embracing it. Exploiting it, even.

And who are we to argue? After all, unlike your average valley kid, this kid has shotguns.

Pungo, just 15 minutes from Sandbridge.

Where the heck is Pungo?

I'm 30 to 45 minutes from the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, but Sandbridge is only 15 minutes away. But growing up, if you didn't surf First Street Jetty you weren't considered a good surfer. I was over it from the start. Why surf with a thousand people there when I can surf with only a couple guys and get any wave I want? It wasn't until I started doing ESA contests at the Oceanfront when people said, "Oh, this kid can actually surf."

You were probably better off driving the extra 45 minutes to the Outer Banks.

I give my dad, Lawson Rogers, all the credit for teaching me what Hatteras is all about. I remember mornings sitting in class, when the principal would ring me down to the office. I thought I was in trouble and my dad would be standing there out front with the teachers and staff, "We're outta here, boy! Hatteras is pumping!"

How involved were you with farm chores as a kid?

My older brother, Dylan, and I pretty much had to do it all. We had two acres of grass to cut. We'd water the chickens, get eggs out of the chicken coop. We used to have a pig that we'd feed all the scraps to. And we had to cut firewood. Our dad uses the wood stove to heat the house in the winter, so we go to my grandma's house in the woods up the street, cut the trees down and into logs, roll them up the back of the truck, and put 'em on the splitter. I have to do that this weekend actually.

This is a legit frontside by any standard.

Talk about humble beginnings.

Yeah, the Oceanfront kids are right there near the bars and hotels, so it's a lot easier for them to start making the wrong decisions at a young age. Whereas out here the worst thing that ever happened was a firecracker blowing up in a kid's hand or someone wrecking their dirt bike. Pungo kids didn't get in too much trouble. We were just always hurting ourselves.

You remained caged in anonymity until 2004, when you scored a breakthrough cover shot on Eastern Surf Magazine's World Travel issue as a 17-year-old. How did that enhance your profile?

That trip to El Salvador with (Tom) Dugan and Mez (Dick Meseroll) is what took me to the next level as far as being a recognizable East Coast guy. Plus, the ECSC was an ASP 2-star that year. I got 2nd in the Pro to Aaron Cormican and won the Junior Pro. That mag came out at the tradeshow a couple weeks later. That's when the ball started rolling a little more. I had travel incentive contracts before that, where I'd cook at a restaurant, spend my own money on trips, bring back the receipts and get reimbursed months later. By the time I was 18, I was getting a salary.

Who was the primary force in helping you go pro?

Raven Lundy helped get me on a Billabong flow program at 15, which turned into a small travel fund at 17, and the next year I was getting paid. But to be honest, it was my mom and dad. They've always backed me 110 percent. There are a lot of industry people in Virginia Beach, and I won't name names but a few guys had the power to make that call and take me to the next level. And they didn't.

Not just an air guy, Rogers craves Outer Banks juice.

Their loss, as subsequent photos had you flying out of the frame more often than not. Where do you stand on amplitude vs. technical?

A lot of the videos I used to watch showed Christian and Nathan Fletcher stomping these huge, no-handed airs, so I always thought amplitude was sicker. Going huge with a ten-foot air looks way more insane than a Passion Pop a foot out of the water.

Tell us about your experience?

Basically, I put myself out there to the world and didn't make it. Joe Cheshire, the video guy, and I decided to just go for it this summer. We filmed on the Caribbean and Pacific sides of Panama, then hopped the border to Pavones. The rest of the footage was from Hatteras.

I would've liked a few giant tubes in there to break that stereotype of the small-wave guy. That's what I was missing. We wanted to go to Mexico to get that, but it was so expensive. I had already worked for three weeks straight to pay for the first trip, where I knew people to stay with to keep expenses down. I think other surfers had a little more time to work on their sections. We waited until the last minute to submit. But that's what we got and I'm thankful for the experience.

Thankful it's over?

Yeah, it was nerve-racking. We had to make a skit, which was cool, but I wanted to make it shorter. I had to have a couple beers the night before it went up just to be able to sleep. I was so nervous about the comments. But for the most part, people were pretty positive.

What was the worst comment you received?

"Don't bother with the dirty hippie-surfer thing. Brian Conley's got that covered. Stay on the farm." (laughs.) But Nate Yeomans wrote in with some encouraging stuff, and Taylor Steele wrote something along the lines of, "You guys got something different going on over there, keep it up." I was just stoked to see myself up on the same panel as Kelly and Parko. It was kind of a bummer when I found out I didn't make it, but two days later Hatteras was epic and I didn't even care anymore. I stayed at Dallas Tolson's house on the island for three days, got barreled, and forgot all about Innersection.

The Quiksilver King of the Peak is approaching, as well, and word is they've spiced up the ESM Airshow. Will you be entering both?

Yes, that contest is really good for a guy like me -- do one explosive maneuver and get a score for it. That's all I ever wanted to do as a kid. The first couple years I was just ruining waves. I'd race down the line as fast I could for the section. Until I started landing airs all the time that's what I was trying all the time. Nowadays I can do a cutback and smash the whitewater, maybe blow the tail, and then do an air. I feel like I'm surfing with nobody around most of the time. So it would be nice to find a video guy to do a weekly blog with -- show us surfing, skating, four-wheeling, shooting shotguns ...

So you're proud to be a farm boy?

I'll be at the WRV Battle of the Banks getting shacked with overalls atop my wetsuit.