Nick Hoffman, Software Engineer on Surfing

Hi, I am Nick Hoffman, and I am a Software Engineer and Front End Developer. I currently live in Vail, Colorado after moving from San Diego, California six months ago. The fresh Rocky Mountain air, open spaces, gorgeous surroundings, and world class snowboarding lured me here. I have just opened up my own business here, a web development store called East Vail Tech. I am much happier in Colorado, despite not being able to surf daily. While there is no nearby ocean, I can still snowboard, kite surf, kayak, camp, and hike in one of my favorite places on earth!

I have always been interested in board sports. While living near the beach in Southern California, it was natural to begin surfing. I used to surf everyday when I lived there. You get a natural high from riding a nice barrel or throwing buckets off a big turn.

Surfing changed everything for me. For example, my first surf trip was to K38 in Baja Norte. That inspired me to become fluent in Spanish in order to sample Latin America’s tasty waves. It also taught me to think differently about how I work and learn. It is important to push your limits all the time. Each wave is different, and you can always learn from both your success and your failures. The same applies to any other kind of work – everything is a learning experience.

For newcomers, I would say start with a long board. After about 6 months of that, switch to a short board. Gradually reduce the length of your board, and surf as much as possible, at as many breaks as possible. Push yourself and do not be afraid to get hurt. Injuries are always bound to happen, and even more likely with heavier surf and reef, or point breaks. You also need to be aware of other surfers so they do not get hurt, and the other way around.

Having an outlet like surfboarding is incredibly beneficial for my tech work. While I consider my field to be creative, I still need a way to unwind. For me, that is surfing, snowboarding, or skating. Sometimes, these outlets can even help with networking. In between sets when there has been a break, I have met people from all walks of life. Conversation can naturally turn to what one does for work. That might allow an opening for networking, a potential opportunity to gain a client, or plainly finding a new surf buddy.

Moving to Colorado has allowed me to pickup snowboarding as well. Surfing and snowboarding are both board sports, with a couple different concepts of balance and turning involved. I look at snowboarding like surfing on frozen water. Since you are going downhill with your feet attached to the board, I just visualize hard turns to burn speed, like you would while surfing. All your weight is shifting from heels to toes. Since I consider balancing on a piece of foam and glass in the water more difficult, I would say that surfing has helped me to advance more quickly as a snowboarder.

The pace of life in Colorado’s High Rockies is much more relaxed than the rat race of Southern California. There is definitely a similar culture in Vail to that of CA beach & surf life, just substitute snow. I look at the snowboarding/mountain tribe as cousins of the surfing tribe. People are here to board, live life for what it is, and take full advantage of nature.

I am fortunate that my job has given me so much freedom. I have always preferred being my own boss, as it allows me to work remotely, instead of being inside at a desk all day. My time on the board can be just as important as at work, so I have always made sure to give myself time for both. I would rather take the risk of being happy and poor over getting a big salary and wishing that I was living.

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