It only seems like yesterday that Doug Dukeson and I launched the first issue of NZ Propeller magazine at the 1996 New Zealand Boat Show. The country’s first magazine totally dedicated to trailer boats, NZ Propeller magazine proved an instant success.
That first issue featured a Buccaneer 720 Elite on the cover and our first boat tests were the Buccaneer 720 plus a Bonito 685 Calais and an Alli-Craft 450. We also ran the first of our on-going features on buyers guides with a look at twenty 5.5m GRP cabin boats and a story on the growth in sales of diesel sterndrives. We followed that over the years with the industry’s first engine shootouts on everything from 30hp through to 300hp outboards and compared petrol, diesel and outboard power on the same boats.
One thing we have prided ourselves on over the past 17 years is our well-researched and in-depth technical articles.
Interestingly, we had advertisers in that first issue, such as Buccaneer, Fi-Glass, DMW Trailers, L&B, Tohatsu, Rayglass, CSB Huntsman, Volvo Penta, Mercury, Stabicraft and Yamaha that are still with us today and in this 100th issue.
Boat tests have always been a strong point of the magazine, with many hundreds of trailer boat reviews to date. Many of those are already on our website for purchase and in time we hope to have just about all of them available to download. We have always tried to offer a mixed bag of boats in each issue and not concentrate on one particular style or size.
During the buoyant years pre the GFC, there were plenty of boats available, with local manufacturers and importers endlessly coming up with new models, so the choices were vast. That has certainly changed in recent years, with slim pickings in some areas, although the alloy boat market seems to keep producing new offerings more so than the fibreglass builders.
In 1998 we could see a gap in the non-trailerable boat market so we launched Pacific MotorYacht to cater for powerboats over 10m. This was at a time when the America’s Cup was in New Zealand and the big boat industry was riding a high. Initially a quarterly, this soon changed to a bi-monthly and was published on alternate months to NZ Propeller. With interest building for the magazines in Australia, we expanded our horizons in 2001 and started distribution across the Tasman. Sales were good but we could see the need for a specialist Australian edition. Along with experienced and well respected marine journalist Barry Tyler, who took up the role as our Australian editor, we launched Australian Propeller in May 2003. While we enjoyed some buoyant times, as the market got tighter so did the advertising returns and in March 2005, after 12 issues we decided to absorb it back into NZ Propeller.
50 Issues Young
In August 2004 we published our 50th edition of NZ Propeller magazine. It had taken 4544 pages and over eight years to arrive at this point. The market was strong and boats were selling and we continued to bring forth pages and pages of great reading that could be enjoyed both sides of the ditch.
In December 2007 I handed over the ownership and running of the magazine to business partner Doug Dukeson so I could concentrate all my efforts on Pacific MotorYacht magazine. After 36 years of writing about trailer boats it wasn’t really possible to go ‘cold-turkey’ so I remained as a contributing editor to the magazine, while under the editorship of Doug. The following issue the words “New Zealand” were dropped from the masthead to better reflect the Australasian content of the magazine.
In May 2011 we decided the timing and market was right to bring the two titles together and from that union, Pacific PowerBoat was born. Up to that time we had kept both magazines separate and while in the last few years both were produced by different publishing groups, our initial company, D&B Publishing Ltd was still active, so we simply brought it out of hiatus as the publisher of the new title.
So while Propeller effectively disappeared as a masthead in March 2011, it has been retained within the pages of Pacific PowerBoat… and this is why we are calling this the 100th issue of Propeller. We have done an amazing number of boats tests and there have been some amazing boats. I never tire of the innovation that trailer boat builders put into their products and in my mind they are equal and in some cases better than anything anywhere in the world. A couple of examples that come to mind are the globally successful Rayglass Protector and the Sealegs brands. Both have broken new ground and are still in high demand today. As I have said before. Kiwi boat builders lead the world in trailerable hardtops, both in aluminium and GRP.
We have visited some great destinations, from Stewart Island and Fiordland and from the Whitsundays to Rarotonga. It would take pages to list all the adventures we have had in the past 17 years, but suffice to say that it’s been a great trip and I am glad that we have been able to share it with our readers along the way.
Over the following pages I have however put together a listing of 40 boats that I found interesting for whatever reason. Some are still available today; some have long since gone and some, well, never really made it anyway.
What the future holds is anyone’s guess! Will there be a 200th issue? Maybe, but I know I will be long retired by then and someone else will be at the helm. While the marine market is showing signs of improvement, there are so many variables that can change that, so I am not prepared to speculate.
I can say however that at least for a few more years anyway, our intention is to continue publishing Pacific PowerBoat and bring you a great read on everything to do with powerboats. Fear not, we will not be adding sailing yachts or rock fishing to the magazine – it will remain a strictly powerboat magazine. Happy reading!