After yet another magazine cycle of weather-deferred boat reviews following months of similar challenges thanks to a depressingly wet and windy winter, weather predictions for the rest of the year are looking up – for boaters, at least.

Weather experts predict the long anticipated El Niño weather cycle is about to kick in, and this El Niño is likely to be stronger than usual.

El Niño usually means drier than average conditions for New Zealand, with westerly winds predominating and far less chance of the sort of tropical moisture plumes that were such a feature of our weather in the past year.

This news will be a relief to residents of Hawkes Bay, Northland, Coromandel, Auckland and other regions which experienced extreme rainfall and flooding during the last 12 months. Instead, our first El Niño since 2016 is expected to bring less rain with warmer temperatures – some predictions are for 25°C plus from late September onwards. And while that is probably good news for waterlogged parts of the country, the outlook has the potential for drought in some eastern areas and an elevated wildfire danger.

For boaters and holidaymakers, many of whom stayed home last summer, frequently warm temperatures for eastern parts of the country and fewer easterly winds should mean a much better cruising season, full camping grounds and bustling seaside settlements.

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Let’s hope so.

On a more sombre note, on Friday September 8, veteran boating journalist, publisher, and New Zealand Boat Show Hall of Fame inductee Barry Thompson passed away, aged 72. Barry was about to head out for a day’s fishing when he collapsed in his driveway.

Barry “Thommo” Thompson was passionate about the boating industry and has probably done more to promote powerboating in New Zealand than anyone else. A huge supporter of powerboat racing in New Zealand, Barry and his boat-mate Glen Urquart, are the only Kiwis to have won a UIM World Powerboat Championship, in Guernsey in 1986.

Late last year, after more than 50 years of marine publishing, Barry announced he was scaling back his involvement with his business partner of 26 years, Doug Dukeson, to enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle.

In those 50 years, no one in this country has written more boat reviews than Barry, whose publishing history includes Seaspray, Powerboat, Nautical News, Boating World, NZ Fisherman, Propeller, and more recently, Alloy Boat and Pacific Powerboat magazines. I worked with Barry in the early 1990s, on NZ Fisherman, Seaspray, Powerboat and Boating World magazines. He was inspirational and supportive, always happy to share his experience and knowledge. Later, when we found ourselves on opposite sides of the publishing fence, he made sure to always keep Boating NZ on its toes, but while we were in competition with one another, it was always in good spirit.

Barry was highly respected in the marine industry and universally recognised as a good bloke – great fun to share a drink and a laugh with, and never short of a yarn. He will be sorely missed.

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Our condolences to Barry’s family, friends, and business colleagues everywhere.