Corn Commentary

Proving Boats Run Well on Ethanol

Ethanol sometimes gets a bad rap in the boating world, but some high performing race boats are proving that charge is all wet.

Boat racers from coast to coast gathered this past weekend in the ethanol-producing town of Garnett, Kansas to speed around Cedar Valley Reservoir running ten percent ethanol fuel (E10) at the National Boat Racing Association (NBRA) “Garnett Ethanol Hydroplane Nationals.” The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) partnered with NBRA earlier this year to help dispel concerns about the use of ethanol fuel in boat engines. The partnership includes the use of the RFA “Fueled with Pride” logo on signage around the racing events, as well as on all the racing boats and haulers.

“This was an opportunity to tell our story that E10 blends will run in any commercial type of vehicle, whether boats, auto or whatever,” said Steve Gardner, general manager of Garnett’s ethanol plant East Kansas Agri-Energy located in Garnett. “If this will run in racing boats, it will run in any type of boats.”

Garnett is also home to the Kansas Corn Growers Association and they joined with representatives from RFA and East Kansas Agri-Energy at the race where they provided fan bags with information and answered questions about the use of ethanol in marine engines.

Listen to my interview with Steve Gardner here: East Kansas Agri-Energy at NBRA Boat Race

All of the boats that race in NBRA competitions around the country this year have to prove they are using 10 percent ethanol fuel in order to be eligible for additional prize money in the race. “We test all the fuel before the race and then the top three entries in any class are tested when they come in to make sure they are running ethanol,” said NBRA president Dan Crummett.

The NBRA races include a number of different classes of hydroplanes and runabouts with stock and modified outboards that run as fast as 96 miles per hour. Crummett says most of the issues that boaters experience when using ethanol-blended fuel can be addressed with better maintenance. “Any fuel will degrade over not a long period of time once the oil is mixed in it,” he says, which is why it’s so important for boaters to avoid leaving fuel set n the tank for an extended time.

Listen to my interview with Dan Crummett here: NBRA President Dan Crummett

Here’s a little video montage of representatives from the town of Garnett and the Renewable Fuels Association welcoming the racers and some race footage.


See photos from the race here: NBRA Ethanol Boat Race