Young David Nuckles didn’t seem to mind that his native South Carolina was always in the shadow of its more wave-rich neighbors Florida, North Carolina, and New Jersey. When it came time to put on his ESA contest singlet — whether that was at his homebreak of Myrtle Beach, or elsewhere up and down the East Coast — Nuckles was impervious to intimidation, channeling his hero, David Nuuhiwa.
Throughout the 1970s, Nuckles dominated the Eastern Surfing Association’s Boys, Junior Men’s, and Men’s divisions, collecting a total of six championships. Predictably, Nuckles’ next maneuver was taking on the world. In 1978, he competed in the ISA World Surfing Championships in South Africa, where, to the astonishment of fellow competitor Shaun Tomson, he pulled off a 360, then an unknown maneuver, which helped the Americans snag a second-place finish. The following year, he won a US Junior Championship. In 1980, he won the coveted Nancy Katin Award and officially turned pro. His first year on tour, he was ranked third, ahead of fellow future East Coast Surfing Hall of Famers, Jeff Crawford (Class of 2002) and Pat Mulhern (Class of 2006). In 1982, Nuckles won his first pro event: the prestigious Record Bar Pro in North Carolina.
Nuckles’ passion for surfing has kept him on the pulse of the sport ever since. He continues to work closely with the ESA, as well as coach two of the East Coast’s most promising young surfers, Nate Dorman and Cam Richards.
Nuckles was inducted into the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame in 2018.