by Rich & Linda Hughes members of the Toronto/Manotick Chapters

The Clarion project was one of the most challenging yet interesting builds to date. Clarion boats already have the reputation for building high-end quality craft that perform as well as they look. So to take a new stock GR21 racer hull and transform it into the Hughes Edition would require lots of thinking, planning and some new resources.

The best way to keep focused on a build is to develop a theme that will direct the design decisions toward the final product. Our own taste is to build our boats with an automotive flare. In this case, the Clarion GR21 had some very strong art deco design elements to it, especially the long forward deck and very stylish bow flare that is reminiscent of the 1920’s Duesenberg. At the same time, there was an opportunity to bring in characteristics of the classic British sports cars such as Jaguar and Aston Martin. But overall, it is a new boat so there would be some modern technology that would be highlighted instead of hidden.

Now that we had direction on how the boat would look, we would have to focus on performance and in specific, the engine. There are a number of standard choices for engines available when it comes to a fuel injection small block V8. However, we needed an engine that would be stock, yet at the same time have exceptional performance and be a bit different from all the rest. As luck would have it, we were on a boating holiday with Mike and Lisa Gridley of the Toronto Chapter. While chatting after dinner one evening, the Clarion project became the topic. Mike was working with Power Boat Television and had just got back from the Mercury factory where they were demonstrating their newest engine that was designed and built completely by Mercury. In a nut shell, we needed an engine, Mercury wanted some advertisement and Mike was looking for an episode. I love boating holidays!

In total, four film shoots were required as well as a number of other visits before the two episodes could be completed and aired at the end of the 2017 season. And once the editing was complete, the short time it took to install the engine on film actually took several weeks of prep work in real time. My movie career may not go much further, but getting to experience what it takes to put a show together was fascinating. Thanks to Mercury for developing one incredible machine and a big thanks to Mike Gridley for putting this all together. Got to run now, Spielberg wants to meet for lunch!


  1. Beautiful,I like to own one . For me it is a new Clarion with evolution. In the old days a 1957 Chris Craft was not like a 1953 but both were Chris Craft . It is a wood boat but up to date whit the commodity and whiteout the hassle of the old boats

  2. Fantastic job Rich, next year it would be great to see it at the Michigan Chapter Show in Algonac. I happen to know a place for you and Linda to stay on Harwens Island!

  3. Hi Rich and Linda
    Saw this on the virtual show last summer and reviewing it again reveals your talents when it comes to design and finishing! Bravo to both of you, because I know Linda very much had her hand in this project.
    Would love to see any videos of the boat up and running at speed.
    Take care – stay safe
    K & J

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