Kaizen 52 Boat Test

Russell Caporn has drawn on long experience to create his new version of the perfect gameboat. As Rick Huckstepp discovered, a lot of thought and finetuning has gone into the development of the Kaizen 52.

Author and photography: Rick Huckstepp

This boat test ran in ISSUE 76 of BlueWater magazine – DEC-JAN 2010

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase the back-issue here

Kaizen is a Japanese term that defines a philosophy of ‘continuous improvement’. It’s a small word with a big meaning – one that Russell Caporn seized on when he was building up this magnificent 52.

The Kaizen 52 is born of a long pedigree and has its roots in the hull design of the Precision 50, which later evolved into the Key West of the same size – both proven ocean voyagers and versatile gamefishing boats.

Russell has a history steeped in heavy- and light-tackle gamefishing and boats associated with the sport. His favourite hull of all time was the Key West 50. While not wanting to reinvent the wheel in its entirety, a few alterations were in store to bring the classic design and oceangoing attributes of the Key West to the Kaizen 52.

One thing Russell did not want to compromise was the seaworthiness of the soft-riding hull and the majority of its traditional lines. One of the adjustments he made was to lengthen the hull by 2ft, and he modernised the profile slightly (such as by raising the sheer), but left the rest of the hull mostly unchanged. And it has some great attributes that are better left like the original.

Kaizen 52 - User-friendly cockpit

A deep, fine entry at the bow gives the Kaizen 52 that soft ride its ancestors were renowned for, and a kick-up in the aft end of the hull at the transom gives the stern some lift when aggressively backing up on fish.

We could see this working well on the test day, with the aft coamings remaining well above the swollen waterline, pushing against the stern when the boat was under serious reverse throttle. Some water does splash up from the deep gutter that runs around the deck, forced in via the wide, centrally located scupper. However, seated in the Reelax gamechair you’re out of that spray and it might only be a small issue when running stand-up gear at the coamings.

While in the chair and attached to a 60kg outfit, a full swing of the chair will see the rod tip clear the aft corners should a rampaging fish play hard to get and turn toward the bow when at close quarters. This is attributed to the tapered beam at the stern, which is approximately 600cm narrower than its widest beam well forward – a feature intentionally included in the hull design for this very purpose.

This is just one of a number of practical features about this larger-than-life cockpit, making it a user-friendly environment for both angler and crew.

Another is the number of rodholders (there are eight) recessed in the gunwales. There’s nothing unusual about that for a boat of this size, but they sure come in handy when clearing the coamings after a hook-up. When there aren’t enough rodholders, rods get thrown through the aft door on to the saloon floor for crew to trample over in the mayhem. This can lead to tackle damage and the likelihood of hooks finding their way into feet and limbs.

The aft shoulders of the Kaizen’s lower superstructure hold six storage rodholders and, with time to stow more after the angler has settled into the fight, another 16 outfits can be stored in the rack of holders across the rear of the bridge. This leaves the saloon for what it was intended for: free and easy passage.

Full-length climbing ladders create an intrusion into any deck. On the Kaizen, this has been alleviated by running the bridge access ladder between the top of the freezer (built into the aft saloon wall) and an opening in the floor of the bridge. A substantial foot-step in the side of the freezer helps you on the way to and from.

This theme has been continued in the ladder design to access the upper bridge from the flybridge. It’s wall-mounted above the observer’s seat and performs its function perfectly. 

The top of the freezer in the cockpit is used as a bait-rigging station. There’s a cutting board and a pigeonhole shelf system that holds the accessories. A removable padded brow against the saloon wall acts as a leader holder and conceals pegs for hanging hook sets. With the padding in place your leaders are secure and not tangled or blown off by the wind.

Below the deck is a refrigerated brine tank, which is handy for thawing quality baits. Two large hatches in the aft corners open to the fishbox, and the test boat had an optional cleaning table, which sat on posts in the starboard coaming.

There are tuna tubes hidden under teak plugs on both sides of the cockpit and the unsightly plumbing is hidden inside stowage compartments, one of which contains the fire hose. Throw in a swag of recessed pop-up cleats on three coamings and you have the makings of a good work area.

Should things get too hectic in the cockpit, you’ll find it peaceful on the foredeck. Access is easy, with plenty of grabrails. Once there, you can operate the davit to easily lift the inflatable on to the water.

The inflatable was absent for our test, exposing an expanse of cabin roof that could be used as a good sunbathing space when doing the brownie points thing. And should you have the enviable problem of juggling anglers on a multiple hook-up, accessing the bow and using stand-up gear around the foredeck is an easy and safe affair.

Kaisen 52 - Easy living

And speaking of keeping the other half happy, your job will be made easy inside, with the boat’s opulent finish to a practical layout.

The large saloon door allows a horizontal jib crane to enter and lift the engines through the floor if need be. With the door open or closed, observers can sit in aft facing lounge seats against the forward bulkhead of the saloon, with armrests to support them in rough seas.

There are tackle drawers under the power panels on the starboard side of the entrance. These are accessible for anyone reaching in through the door from outside – so you won’t need to walk dirty or wet feet into the saloon. Meanwhile, those slaving away at the galley have a full-circle food processing station, with the fridge and freezer on the same side, then a C-shaped bench with galley and cooktop with microwave and cupboards in the fascia of the module.

The main lounge has a collapsible table and, if accommodating more than a full house, a couple of people could sleep here, as well as one or two on the opposite lounge.

From the dining table you can keep an eye on both the activities in the cockpit (via a big, aft window) and the widescreen TV, which is mounted on the forward bulkhead above the armchair lounge.

While viewing the TV or DVDs, you can also flick over to the cockpit camera and the TowCam, if the option is fitted, to see what’s happening outside and underwater. This video is also interfaced on to the large screen electronics on the upper bridge and flybridge.

Heavy-tackle outfits will be stowed in compartments under the lounges, but light-tackle and bait rods can be slung in the ceiling compartment of the saloon. Access is via a switch operating a hydraulic hatch that tucks them away, secure, out of sight and out of mind.

Kaisen 52 - Staying Comfortable

Every cabin with a door has air-conditioning, so there are plenty of places to get comfortable.

Up on the bridge, a cushioned bench seat provides a great position for an observer to keep watch over the lures astern. There are well-placed fence rails for safety.

Inside the air-conditioned bridge there’s a corner lounge with a table. This lounge converts to a double berth when the tabletop is lowered. There’s a wet galley with a fridge fitted in the module behind the plush co-pilot chair. It’s a good place to be when keeping the skipper company on a lengthy journey.

Plonk yourself in the helm chair and you’ll see why – it would be very easy to drift into sleep while relaxing in such comfort. With the bridge door closed and the air-conditioning cranking, the ambient noise is reduced to a gentle hum while you’re cruising at speed.

Kaisen 52 - Built to perform

The Kaisen boasts a dash full of GeoNav instrumentation and you can keep an eye on multiple sectors of the boat through video links to the various cameras, including the engineroom.

It’s a remarkable boat underway, with precise steering that reacts to the slightest turn of the helm. It leans into the corners at various degrees, depending on speed, and offers the best possible stability for occupants having to contend with high-speed manoeuvres.

The flybridge helm is too far forward for the skipper to see the cockpit action over the lip of the bridgedeck, so driving while fighting a fish takes place from the platform with a view.

The, corral-like arrangement of the upper deck provides a snug safety fence for the skipper to stand in so as not to get thrown about in rough seas. In this position, he still has access to the autopilot on the helmstation, and a view of the big screen GeoNav for navigation, depthsounding and video coverage. And, when action stations are called, he can easily stoop underneath to take control of the throttles.

Manoeuvrability while going astern is excellent. The five-blade, computer-cut propellers are nicely matched to the power plants. Now, let’s get down to the heart of the matter, the engineroom.

Kaisen 52 - The Power Plant

There’s been some pretty serious plumbing going on down here – to say the least! There are many through-hull fittings required so, to avoid compromising the  hull’s integrity, the large through-hull fittings are armed with manifolds that pipe water to various appliances, each capable of being shut off individually.

The battery system, consisting of two 150 amp-hour start batteries and two 200 amp-hour house batteries is housed high off the bilge in the aft wall of the engineroom. This enables easy maintenance, so you don’t need to be a contortionist – a very welcome improvement!

The water separators for the fuel line are mounted on the forward bulkhead. They, too, are within easy physical reach for servicing or changing while on the run (without the need for engine shutdown).

Access down the aisle between the boat’s twin MTU Series 60 diesels is easy and safe. Anything that may require attention will be within easy reach of this passageway, including the strainers, which are handy to the entrance to the engineroom.

Whoever designed this engineroom has lived in one for many years. The ease of access to all components in the Kaizen engineroom is something that is difficult to find in other boats.

With so much quality plumbing and electrical equipment down here, there is little room for anything else. I doubt you will be wanting: the Kaizen has it all and then some. And, somehow, the builder has got it all within reach, which is a feat in itself.

Kaisen 52 - Long-haul Boat

This Kaizen is going to be working in the charter industry, moving between Mooloolaba and Lizard Island in Queensland. It has been built with mothershipping in mind – with a stateroom berth with ensuite, a double bunk berth in the crew quarters and three bunks in the forward cabin for clients, using a separate water closet.

The entire rig is heavily reliant on 240V power created by either of two Onan generators, one 17kVa and the other 9kVa, ensuring clean and constant supply. It also has a three-phase shore power option and an endless supply of freshwater from a desalinator.

This boat has been designed for long hauling. It carries 5000 litres of fuel and 900 litres of freshwater.

At a slow pace of around 10 knots, fuel consumption for both engines combined is just 30 litres per hour. Put the throttles down and you can expect the consumption to jump to 200 litres per hour at 20 knots and 2000rpm.

Push it all the way, to a WOT of 2300rpm, and you’ll get 30 knots, but sacrifice 350 litres per hour. Realistically, these figures are quite acceptable for a boat just over 21 tonnes.

What a stunning boat! It’s classic in heritage, modern in layout and practical in so many ways. And so very comfortable to be in and command.

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  • Exceptional manoeuvrability forward and aft.
  • Modern boat built over classic lines.
  • Excellent working cockpit – obviously designed by a gamefisherman.
  • Much effort has gone into plumbing and electrical to make maintenance easy and reduce downtime.


  • People (day): 20
  • People (berthed): 10
  • Fuel: 5000 litres
  • Water: 900 litres
  • Blackwater: 150 litres


  • Material: Hull bottom – solid fibreglass; bulkheads/stiffeners – foam core fibreglass
  • Length overall: 15.95m
  • Beam: 4.81m
  • Draft: 0.97m
  • Deadrise: variable 19 to 25 degrees
  • Weight: 21,100kg (light)


  • Make/model: 2 x MTU Series 60
  • Type: turbo-charged diesels
  • Rated hp: 825hp each
  • Displacement: 14 litres
  • Weight: 1840kg each (with gearbox)
  • Gearboxes: MGX5114A twin-disc quick shift
  • Props: Five-blade Veem Interceptor

Options fitted: Davit, bow thruster, outriggers, gamechair, rodholders, dishwasher, washing machine, ice maker, desalinator, camera monitoring engineroom, additional 1800-litre fuel capacity, deck brine tank, teak deck and gunwales, second 9kVa genset, marlin tower, additional helm station in flybridge, inverter, fridge/freezer, underwater lights, transom door, bait tank, bait preparation area, fishbox, tuna tubes and built to survey.

Author and photography: Rick Huckstepp
Supplied by: Kaizen Boats Pty Ltd

This boat test ran in ISSUE 76 of BlueWater magazine – DEC-JAN 2010

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase the back-issue here

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