Marine Alternative Fuels Test

Our writer rides a Sea Pro powered by twin Suzuki outboards fueled by VP Racing EcoGen90 bio fuel.
Sea Pro 259 Deep-V
The Sea Pro boat with Suzuki outboards fueled by EcoGen 90 bio fuel arrives in Washington, DC, piloted by Suzuki Marine Executive Vice President, Sales & Service, Gus Blakely (left), and Suzuki Marine President Nobuo Suyama (right). John Page Williams

It’s 147 miles (statute) from Broad Creek, just inside the mouth of Virginia’s Rappahannock River, out into the Chesapeake Bay, around Smith Point, and up the Potomac River to Washington Channel in the District of Columbia. Our Sea Pro 259 Deep-V’s 22.5-degree running bottom smoothly cleaved the light chop and dish-calm surfaces we encountered, and Capt. Matt Dugas kept the throttles pinned between 5,800 and 6,100 the whole way, with only one stop to refuel in the Potomac’s Neale Sound, Maryland.  The fresh fuel, however, came from a 55-gallon drum, not a pump on a dock. Therein lies a story.

The Test Trip

Over that long, hard run, the boat’s twin Suzuki 140s never missed a beat, and Capt. Matt didn’t bat an eyelash. He makes this sort of run every day in the Gulf of Mexico as a Suzuki endurance skipper, as does our companion on the trip, Capt. Nick Abraham. From hard-won experience, Matt and Nick knew the 140s would gladly do it all again the next day, even though they were pushing a boat that normally gets rigged with 150s or 200s, which have significantly more displacement and turn propellers with larger diameter. 

Twin Suzuki outboards
Twin Suzuki DF 140 outboards, fueled by VP Racing Fuels EcoGen90, a developmental marine fuel, powered a Sea Pro 259 Deep V center console from Florida to Washington D.C., in order to showcase the benefits of alternative fuels. Our contributing editor, Capt. John Page Williams, crewed on board during the last leg of the trip. Courtesy Suzuki Marine

Credit the performance of these Suzuki 140 overachievers not only to their toughness, the superior lubricants circulating inside them, and their efficient cooling systems, but also the EcoGen90 fuel from VP Racing that they were burning. 

Read Next: 2023 Suzuki DF115 and DF140

Below, you can see the standard BOATING speed/fuel profile we recorded during our trip, with comparison figures from Sea Pro, in the other chart, for a 259 rigged with twin Suzuki 150s. The 140s held their own remarkably well in both speed and efficiency, albeit turning 1,000 higher rpms at comparable speeds. They clearly liked what we were feeding them.

VP Racing Fuels is an innovator in specialty fuels, with a heritage in racing. It developed the EcoGen 90 fuel used on the trip described in the article, and which burns cleaner than other fuels, and also, reportedly, doesn’t suffer the drawbacks of ethanol blend fuels.

VP Racing fuel pumps
VP Racing Fuels is an established company. The EcoGen 90 that fueled the trip described in this article is not yet available for retail sale. Courtesy VP Racing

VP Racing Fuels

Suzuki Marine USA organized this 941.5-mile run from Jacksonville, Florida up the coast to the Capitol to promote sustainable marine fuel, in partnership with the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) during May’s American Boating CongressBOATING rode along on the last lap. In total, the boat burned 479 gallons of the EcoGen90 fuel, good efficiency for a high-speed run in a deep-V rig whose weight underway was around 7,000 lbs. The 140s’ cooling systems also carried Suzuki’s standard Micro Plastic Collecting Devices. The debris they collected during the run has gone to company headquarters in Japan for study under Suzuki’s Clean Ocean Project.

EcoGen 90 Fuel

EcoGen90 is a second-generation non-ethanol fuel that includes 10% ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE) as an oxygenate additive for clean burning, blended with gasoline for a 90-octane rating. The international chemical company LyondellBasell produces ETBE from natural gas-derived tertiary butyl alcohol and ethanol from renewable agricultural sources. Unlike ethanol, ETBE actually decreases evaporative emissions from gasoline and mixes readily in existing gasoline distribution systems. It also has low affinity for water, does not corrode fuel system parts, offers a higher energy content than standard pump gas, and reduces carbon emissions. 

This project is one element of a broad, ongoing effort by NMMA and its member companies to minimize CO2 emissions from recreational boating while maintaining boats’ range and performance. Although the marine manufacturers are investing considerable resources in electrification and hybrid power systems, there is considerable potential for reducing boating’s carbon impact through alternative fuels like EcoGen90 that are compatible with existing recreational boats, requiring no changes to fuel systems or engines. NMMA estimates that the U.S. recreational fleet includes about 12 million powerboats, with a very slow replacement rate of around -percent per year. Translation: a lot of our boats will be with us for a long time. Even as the industry develops new rigs with substantially lower or zero carbon footprints, its members are looking broadly for ways to reduce the impact of the fleet that’s already out there and will be for a lot more years. 

“With a focus on sustainability, marine fuel advancements in reducing emissions are one of several ways the marine industry is working to lower CO2 emissions,” says Jeff Wasil, Director of Environment, Health & Safety Compliance at NMMA. “There is no one-size-fits-all approach, so we are focused on providing boaters with access to a variety of technologies and products that make it easy and affordable for them to do their part to minimize CO2 emissions, including fueling their boats with sustainable marine fuel.  

“Further reductions in carbon emissions through use of sustainable marine fuels,” he continued, “have the potential for the recreational boating industry to reach carbon neutrality. Support of the fuels demonstrated by Suzuki on this trip and by other marine engine manufacturers will help facilitate further emissions reduction in the future.” BOATING readers will remember past stories of fuels with alternatives to ethanol. We will have more coverage of this important sustainability concern in an upcoming issue.

Sea Pro 259 Deep-V Pricing and Specs

Price:2023 MSRP for a 259 Deep-V Center Console with Twin Suzuki 150 Outboards is around $180,000
Weight:4,850 lbs. (dry)
Transom Deadrise:22.5 degrees
Bridge Clearance:8’7″
Fuel Capacity:140 gal.
Water Capacity:20 gal.
Max HP:400
VP Racing EcoGen 90 fuel
Boating Test Results: Burning VP Racing EcoGen 90 Boating Magazine

How We Tested: Burning VP Racing EcoGen 90

  • Engines: Twin 140-hp Suzuki outboards
  • Displacement: 124.7 (2044 cc.)
  • Props: 14 ″ x 22″ stainless steel 3-blades
  • Gear Ratio: 2.59:1
  • Weight: 419 lbs. (XL) Fuel Load: 85 gal. Crew Weight: 560 lbs. 
  • 0-30 MPH: 9.0 sec.
Suzuki results 89 octane fuel
Suzuki Test Results: Burning 89 Octane EO Gasoline Boating Magazine

Tested by Suzuki: Burning 89 Octane EO Gasoline

  • Engines: Twin 150-hp Suzuki outboards
  • Displacement: 174.9 (2867 cc.)
  • Props: 16 ″ x 21.5″ stainless steel 3-blades
  • Gear Ratio: 2.50:1
  • Weight: 522 lbs. (XL) Fuel Load: 30 gal. Crew Weight: 400 lbs.
  • 0-25 MPH: 5.2 sec.