13 May 1951 - 8 September 2023

by Holly Dukeson

The family, friends and colleagues of the late, great, legendary, though characteristically very humble Kiwi marine journalist, father, husband and world powerboat racing champion, Barry Thompson have been left shocked and saddened at his recent passing, on Friday 8 September 2023.

Husband to Soraja, father to Carl, Mitchell and Travis – long-time business partner of Doug Dukeson and mentor to so many, Barry left this world far too soon and the tributes and celebrations of his life, both in NZ and Australia, are testament of the lives he touched. Barry, until recently, the co-publisher and editor of Powerboat and Alloy Boat magazines, was a familiar sight at boat shows, factories, and international marine industry events. His relaxed persona, wit and good humour, was a testament to his humble nature, even though many would say that his industry and product knowledge surpassed that of most others in the marine industry. Barry first entered the marine industry working under the great John Malitte at the New Zealand Herald. Since then, the magazines he has worked on read like a history of marine publishing over many decades: Seaspray, Powerboat, Nautical News, Boating World, NZ Fisherman, and more recently, with his good mate Doug Dukeson, Propeller, Alloy Boat and Pacific Powerboat Magazines. 

Barry had also been a keen participant in and supporter of powerboat racing in New Zealand, and it would probably be fair to say that no one has done more to promote the sport than Barry. Barry and his good mate Glen Urquhart were the only Kiwis to have won a UIM World Powerboat Championship, achieving the title in Guernsey in 1986. Barry’s early years saw him confront some significant challenges with an offshore accident in 1986, where Barry sustained serious injuries. The strength and fortitude of the man were evident when, within a month, he was back to writing, and within a year, he was back behind the wheel of another race boat. As a result of this accident, measures were taken to make the sport safer for participants. In 2009, Barry was inducted into the New Zealand Boat Show Hall of Fame by the Hutchwilco NZ Boat Show for his services to the industry, where he had been helping to promote the event and the marine industry for almost 40 years. In receiving the award, it was said that “In that time, he has probably spent more time afloat, in boats of all sizes, than any other member of the industry.” Without a doubt, Barry has written more boat tests and done more to promote powerboating than anyone else in NZ. Locally, he was revered for his promotion of New Zealand overseas, introduced engine shoot-outs, and was instrumental in making offshore powerboat racing a safer sport.

Late 2022 Barry with over 50 years of marine publishing, had negotiated a semi-retirement package with 26 year business partner Doug Dukeson, to enable him to kick back and enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle, which he had been doing in more recent times. Barry is a loss to our industry, and his absence will be deeply felt.

There were hundreds of calls from friends and industry associates past and present, along with many messages received from around the world following Barry’s passing… these are just some of them…

Thank you to all those people who showed kindness and support to the Thompson family. Whether it was an email, phone call, card, a louise slice or flowers, in our time of great sorrow, it was much appreciated. From the Thompson family

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