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Review: Skyline 3 Provincial 40-degree Blue Sponge

31 December 2020  | Posted in: Table Tennis Reviews

DHS Skyline 3 Provincial 40-degree Blue Sponge

      I have been using tacky Double Happiness (DHS) rubbers on my FH for the past ~4 years, starting with Hurricane 8, before transitioning to Hurricane 3. I typically use the 40-degree orange sponge non-Neo versions for practice play (regular or provincial), and the slightly more dynamic 40-degree blue sponge versions for tournaments (provincial or national versions). I have previously tested the Neo version of Hurricane 3, as well as Hurricane 2 (regular and Neo), and Nittaku’s Hurricane 3 Pro Turbo Orange and Hurricane Pro 3 Turbo Blue, especially liking the latter but ultimately deeming it too heavy. Given this background, I was of course thrilled to try out the DHS Skyline 3 provincial 40-degree blue sponge version, which has recently become available from    

     The provincial DHS Skyline 3 (40-degree, blue sponge) comes in a shiny silver-and-white-on-blue cardboard wrapper. No rubber-specific information is provided on the package. In fact, it is remarkably difficult to find any information about this rubber from DHS. The only information I was able to dig up is that the Skyline 3 blue sponge rubber has been designed to be a fast forehand rubber for classic offensive players and that some penhold players from the Chinese National Team, including – supposedly – Xu Xin, use the blue-sponged Skyline 3 rubber. 

     The surface of the Skyline 3 is protected by a thin adhesive film that includes DHS’ authenticity sticker. The topsheet is extremely sticky, being even stickier than DHS Hurricane 3, and matte with the contours of the underlying pips clearly visible. The blue sponge feels similar to a DHS Hurricane 3 40-degree blue sponge to the touch and has a faint rubbery smell. I could not see any pores with the naked eye. The rubber weighs 61 g uncut (height x width, 167 x 164 mm, two corners cut). The boosted Skyline 3 sheet (see testing protocol) weighed 47 g when cut to the 158 mm x 151 mm Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition test blade, putting it in a similar range as the regular Skyline 3 and Hurricane 3 Neo. 

Testing protocol

     I tested the Skyline 3 provincial blue sponge rubber on a Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition blade using Spinlord Waran 2 short pips in my BH. Before attaching the Skyline 3, I boosted the rubber by applying 2-3 grams of the Haifu Sea Moon booster (which has recently become available from directly on the sponge, waiting for ~36 hours for the ensuing curl to largely subside. At this point, I attached the rubber to the blade using three layers of Revolution 3 medium viscosity glue. For an article regarding boosting see The test set-up weighed 172 g. I compared the test set-up relative to an equivalent set-up with a DHS Hurricane 3 40-degree provincial blue sponge rubber in my FH. I evaluated these set-ups over three sessions, playing a series of regular and match-focused drills against a high-level practice partner. We used Nittaku J-Top training balls throughout the test. 

Playing Impressions


     DHS rubbers are often excessively tacky and slow straight from the box, requiring a break-in period. However, while the Skyline 3 rubber is very tacky, it felt quite dynamic right from the get-go. The hard nature of the rubber slightly subdues the contact point from the otherwise crisp test blade. Nonetheless, the contact point is still clearly felt and is harder than with the corresponding Hurricane 3 rubber. I enjoyed brilliant control on FH drives, on par, if not better than with the provincial Hurricane 3 blue sponge rubber. While the Skyline 3 rubber hardly is a speed monster (mid-to-high OFF-), it is noticeably faster and more dynamic than its regular counterpart, which I tested a couple of years ago. In fact, the difference between the regular and provincial version is more pronounced for Skyline 3 than for Hurricane 3 rubbers. The strength of the Skyline 3 provincial blue sponge rubber – like most of these types of rubbers – is that it allows the player to precisely calibrate the output power since there is minimal if any catapult. 


     FH looping with the Skyline 3 against blocks is outstanding. Power loops, i.e., loops played with particularly prominent physical effort, are even more powerful (= combination of spin and speed) than equivalent shots with the Hurricane 3. The trajectories of FH loops executed with the Skyline 3 are slightly flatter than with the Hurricane 3, resulting in more shots clipping the net unless a minimally greater bat angle is used (easy adjustment). FH loops against backspin have even more spin than Hurricane 3 judging by my practice partner’s blocks and result in either outright winners (due to inability to controlling the topspin) or easy follow-throughs on 5th ball attacks, which the Skyline 3 excels in. Lazily executed loops with low levels of input power, however, have lower spin levels than Hurricane 3, something that I attribute to the Skyline’s harder topsheet. Skyline 3’s dynamic sponge and the OFF pace of the blade complemented each other well for FH-to-FH loop rallies away from the table. The shot trajectory is long and sufficiently high to clear the net.


     The Skyline 3 offers a spectacularly solid feeling on blocks. The incoming energy is absorbed more efficiently than with an equivalent Hurricane 3, and the slightly lower throw prevents the blocks from going too long. Although it has a very tacky topsheet, the Skyline strikes me as being less spin sensitive than Hurricane 3, perhaps because the topsheet feels harder.   


     Normally, smashing is a weakness of tacky DHS rubbers. However, the Skyline 3 rubber works quite respectably in this regard, in all likelihood due to synergy between the reasonably dynamic sponge, harder and more stable topsheet, and the fast blade. Thus, I was able to put away smashes and flat hits as needed and out of reach for my practice partner.  


     Flicks are normally one of my weaker shots. However, with the Skyline 3 rubber, I enjoyed exceptional control on FH flicks. The tacky and firm topsheet guides the ball over the net and gave me the confidence to fully commit to my flicks. This, together with the dynamic sponge and underlying fast blade, resulted in flicks that were sufficiently fast to be out of reach for my practice partner. Top-marks in this category. 


     When brushed appropriately, long FH pushes were loaded with higher amounts of spin than with Hurricane 3, rendering it difficult for my practice partner to loop effectively. When brushing incorrectly, however, i.e., hitting the ball too thick, the pushes tended to go long. And this happened more often than with Hurricane 3. In other words, full focus and proper technique are required for effective pushing. Like most tacky Chinese rubbers, it is very easy to play short touch shots with scalpel-like precision using the Skyline 3 as there is a complete absence of catapult.  


     I was able to serve short backspin serves with high amounts of spin, though the spin levels perhaps were minimally lower than with Hurricane 3. Topspin/sidespin serves, played using greater input power, were loaded with spin. I found it easy to place these serves near the end-lines. The Skyline 3 is very predictable in its behavior, which renders it an excellent great rubber for serving.   


      I am deeply impressed with the DHS Skyline 3 provincial blue sponge rubber. The Skyline 3 is a harder-feeling, tackier, more powerful, slightly lower-throwing, and a little more predictable rubber than Hurricane 3. It excels in power-looping, 5th ball attacks, flicking, and aggressive blocking while being slightly more difficult to handle in the pushing game than Hurricane 3. I don’t understand why there isn’t more hype around this rubber, which seems particularly well-suited to the 40+ balls. Like the Hurricane Pro 3 Turbo Blue, the Skyline 3 is more direct than Hurricane 3 but does not share the disadvantage of a high weight like the Hurricane Pro 3 Turbo Blue. Anyone who uses Hurricane 3 or Hurricane 8 in their FH, should order a sheet of the DHS Skyline 3 provincial blue sponge rubber and try it out. I doubt you will be disappointed.     



About the Reviewer

     Patrick Hrdlicka is a table tennis enthusiast with a Ph.D. in chemistry who combines his analytical and experimental skills with his love of table tennis in order to test and review a wide range of table tennis equipment.