Alumni Spotlight – Warren Payne (’78-’80)

By |2021-06-27T13:23:57-07:00February 18th, 2021|Categories: Alumni, History|
Who were your coaches? & any specific memories of your first day of practice?2021-06-27T13:07:37-07:00

I will always be thankful that I was approached by UCI Crew coach, Bob Newman, while registering for my first semester of classes in the fall of 1978 as a transfer student. Bob convinced me that rowing would be great for me, and that I could be great at rowing. Although, I’m pretty certain my 6′ 4″ height had a lot to do with that. Bob was a larger than life man by all accounts and a very convincing, if not intimidating, recruiter for his own cause as coach. He explained that as a novice, I would start trial workouts with the freshman in afternoon sessions just a few days a week. If I liked it, I could continue in the winter and spring quarters as a full-time member of the team. Like there was no pressure to continue and I could quit anytime….yeah, right!

After my first workout in the Pocock eight, I was hooked and found an instant connection with my future crewmates in the boat. How could I ever quit, or much less, miss a workout and let them down? What would they say?

Do you have a favorite race or memory of racing?2021-06-27T13:08:24-07:00

Racing at the collegiate level was like taking a very hard final exam except that your results are instantly known by all, the moment you finish. The preparation was hard work and the pre-race buildup, intense and stressful. The finish couldn’t come fast enough and the physical pain to get there was harder than anything I could have imagined. That all went away the moment the bow crossed the finish line and the cox yelled “paddle”! If we were lucky enough to win, the overwhelming elation was indescribable. I’ve never experienced anything like it in anything I’ve ever done. Too bad we didn’t win more. But then, how could anyone ever get too many wins?!

Unfortunately, I remember my first 2KM race more than any other. I was in the novice 8 rowing against UCLA on Bologna Creek. To reach the 1KM mark seemed like hours. Unfortunately, my crewmate, in the 4-seat,  jumped the slide around the 300M mark and wasn’t able to recover. To make matters worse he was by far the heaviest dude in the boat. So, our 8 became a 7 and we had to dig painflly deep to pull his 220 lb dead weight for an eternity to reach the finish line. That was the longest, but NOT the most forgettable race of my rowing days.

My favorite race was the 1979 dual meet UCI vs. Long Beach. I moved from Novice 8 to JV8 as the racing season began my first year. We ended up winning our race in Marine Stadium of Long Beach. We led from start to finish but the Varsity 8 lost. Of course, we didn’t let that put a damper on our big win! We were on cloud 9, celebrating while our varsity teammates quietly discounted our, comparably, tiny JV win. We were later advised that we showed too much enjoyment in spite of the V8 loss. Of course, the V8 had the last laugh that year when they avenged that loss and came from behind to beat Long Beach at the Western Sprints on a cold, windy Lexington Res. in Los Gatos. The JV8 took third. But, we were all so stoked and proud of our V8 crewmates that we all feasted that night at Charlie’s Chili and had a blast!

At the end of the ’79 season, Bob Newman took the UCI V8 to England to race at Henley. He then left UCI to coach at our rival, UCLA. Mike “Sully” Sullivan took over as head coach and I moved into the V8 boat. Sully, arranged for the JV8 and V8 boats to travel and compete in the “Opening Day Regatta” in Seattle, WA. It was a ton of fun, even if we didn’t win the race. Sully arranged for us to get a personal tour by Stan Pocock of his boat building workshop. As a young engineer, it was a fascinating experience!

Do you stay in touch with any of your teammates? Do you ever get together?2021-06-27T13:08:55-07:00

I keep in touch regularly with several of my UCI crewmates. Dan Angress was my “Best Man”, and I was “Best Man” at weddings for Karl Schnakenburg and Jay Collins. Over the past decades, I’ve also kept in touch with Dave Lebel, Bill Imhof, Mark Oemcke, Mark Bradburne, Peter Johnson, Jeff Brown, Christer Fiegekollman, Paul Marron, Val Valenti, Mark Orme, Didi Yeh, Mike Gilb, George Basile, Kim Reynolds, Stan Townsend, Bruce Ibbetson, coach Mike Sullivan, and a few others.

The 50th reunion of The Newport Regatta and UCI Crew in 2015 was an especially fun weekend. Conversations with old friends from my UCI rowing days picked up right where they left off, decades earlier. Our friendships and laughter hadn’t lost anything as we recalled old stories about crazy pranks and fun times we shared so long ago. The “Old Guys” match race was a blast too.

In 2019, Dave Lebel and I arranged for a group of us to attend ACRA on Lake Lanier in Gainesville, GA where Dave lives. We had so much fun, that we’re already planning for ACRA 2021 in Oakridge, TN.

I’d go anywhere with my UCI crewmates and do just about anything for them. They’re the greatest friends I’ve ever had and I’ll always be thankful and proud that I had the opportunity to row with them on The UCI Crew.

Any lasting words of advice for the 2021 Crews?2021-06-27T13:09:31-07:00

Get outside as much as possible doing hikes, runs, rides and whatever you can to stay in shape and protect yourself from the coronavirus. Rowing and social life will resume in good time. Friendships and bonds with crew-mates will endure the pandemic isolation and last a lifetime. Savor every moment!

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