Trond Lillestolen is retiring from TradeWinds, the publication he helped launch and then edited for more than 20 years, reshaping maritime journalism.

Lillestolen, who turns 67 on 17 December, championed a blend of independent and critical business journalism focused on the deals and people at the heart of the industry. It catapulted TradeWinds ahead of its established rivals, to build an influential publication and successful business.

Senior industry figures paid tribute to him as "Mr TradeWinds" and a "champion" journalist, while colleagues described him as pioneering, supportive and innovative.

"Without Trond there would not have been a TradeWinds," said Svein Steimler, president and chief executive of NYK Group Europe.

"With his retirement our industry is losing a journalist living for, and genuinely passionate about, spreading maritime news to the international 'maritime family'," added Steimler, a former John Fredriksen executive who also spent 20 years on the TradeWinds board as a non-executive director.

Another senior figure said: "Trond is 'Mr TradeWinds' in many ways."

Lillestolen was hired by Norwegian newspaper innovator Kare Valebrokk as part of the launch team of TradeWinds in 1990 from his job as spokesman for the governor of the Central Bank of Norway.

Two months after the first edition in October 1990, he was formally made editor, then later editor-in-chief. Since handing over that role to Julian Bray in 2011, he has continued to report and be a senior member of the management team.

Ian Lewis, a long-standing TradeWinds reporter, said: "We all owe Trond a great debt. It's all too easy to forget how pioneering TradeWinds was in the early days. As one of the founding fathers, Trond encouraged a bold, irreverent style of journalism that changed the way shipping looks at itself.

Impressive legacy

"That philosophy has entered the DNA of TradeWinds and sister publications. That’s an impressive legacy."

Another member of the launch team, Hege Hansen, who was marketing director and continues to work for TradeWinds parent NHST Media Group as data protection officer, said: "I want to thank Trond for his dedication to creating a quality product that is a must read in all the important shipping hubs worldwide.

"On a personal note, he was a most supportive manager, and I cannot recall a situation where we didn't see eye to eye. We’re proud of what our little 'blue baby' has grown up to be, and Trond has played a vital part since the birth over 31 years ago."

Trond Sundnes, NHST Media Group chief executive, paid tribute to Lillestolen's dedication.

"Trond was instrumental to launching TradeWinds. It was a bold move, not only bringing TradeWinds to the world from a mainly Norwegian newsroom, but also through journalism which first became known to the community as the 'Oslo rag'.

"Trond and the TradeWinds team went on an impressive journey, building up TradeWinds as a truly international publication, and a must-have for anyone in the shipping community. "