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Review by Patrick: Nittaku Hurricane Pro 3 Turbo Blue

09 July 2019  | Posted in: Table Tennis Equipment

Nittaku Hurricane Pro 3 Turbo Blue (2.0 mm, super-thick, black) – A game-changing addition to the Hurricane 3 family.

     Approximately 18 months ago, I reviewed Nittaku Hurricane Pro 3 Turbo Orange (NHP3TO). I found the NHP3TO to be somewhat bouncier, softer, and more dynamic than the regular orange-sponged DHS Hurricane 3 and Hurricane 3 Neo rubbers, which gave it a slight edge in ease-of-looping while sacrificing some control in the short game.   

     In the present test, I was given the opportunity to review the new Nittaku Hurricane Pro 3 Turbo Blue (NHP3TB) rubber, which Nittaku describes as being much harder than the NHP3TO and more specifically aimed at high-level players. This description made me very excited to test out the NHP3TB as I prefer hard rubbers that require fast arm swing speeds and prominent physical engagement to generate topspin power while offering a controlled, dead feeling in the short game. This is also why I normally use DHS Hurricane 3 40-degree blue sponge provincial or national rubbers for my FH. Unfortunately, their availability from reputable vendors, such as Tabletennis11.com, is limited, and they are quite expensive although their second-to-none durability results in very favorable performance/value ratios.  

     According to Nittaku, NHP3TB combines the iconic topsheet of DHS Hurricane 3 rubbers with a new, fast, and elastic Japanese sponge that increases the power from longer distances, which is a well-known weakness of unboosted Chinese rubbers. NHP3TB comes in blue glossy cardboard packaging with silver text inside a thin, non-vacuum plastic foil bag. The topsheet, which is covered by a thin protective foil, is thick, very glossy, and exceptionally sticky. The contours of the pimples are faintly visible below the surface. The topsheet has a different ITTF registration number than regular DHS Hurricane 3 and the text is also slightly different. The blue sponge has tiny pores and an extremely pungent rubbery smell, leading me to believe that it is factory-tuned. In fact, the odor was so strong that I assembled the test paddles in a well-ventilated space. However, NHP3TB does not have a visible tuning layer and does not dome. NHP3TB sponge is rumored to have a hardness of 43-degrees on the DHS scale. In agreement with this, NHP3TB feels harder to the touch than any other rubber I have tested before. The two uncut test sheets (see testing procedure) exhibited considerable variation in their weight, weighing 85 g and 91 g uncut (174 mm x 170-172 mm), respectively. When cut to the 157 x 151 mm test blade, the unboosted sheet (from the 91 g sheet) weighed 63 g, whereas the boosted sheet (from the 85 g sheet) weighed 59 g. This renders NHP3TB as the heaviest rubber that I have tested by a significant margin, as seen from the following comparison of related rubbers: DHS Hurricane 8 (53-57 g), NHP3TO (55 g), DHS Hurricane 3 National 40-degree blue sponge (52 g), DHS Hurricane 3 Provincial 40-degrees orange sponge (50 g), DHS Hurricane 3 Provincial 40-degree blue sponge (49 g), DHS Hurricane 3 Neo (47 g), and DHS Hurricane 3 (43 g). 

Testing procedure: I tested two NHP3TB sheets side-by-side on two Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition blades, which have a classic 7-ply  limba-ayous-ayous-ayous-ayous-ayous-limba construction. One NHP3TB sheet was used as-is out of the package, whereas the other sheet was boosted with one thin layer of Falco Tempo Long Booster, applied directly on the sponge 12hrs before assembly, which resulted in moderate doming. I used Spinlord Waran 2 short pips on my BH (2.0 mm, red). The NH3PTB sheets were attached to the blades using three layers of Revolution 3 normal viscosity glue. I tested the setups over several sessions, playing drills and matches against my usual training partners and using Nittaku J-Top training balls. 

     Playing impressions with the unboosted NHP3TB sheet: Initially, like most Hurricane 3 rubbers, the NHP3TB is incredibly tacky and slow. Balls can be lifted easily and remain attached for many seconds. In fact, the rubber is so sticky that the ball can be held vertically without falling off for a couple of seconds. Once the most extreme tackiness subsides, NHP3TB reveals itself as a brilliant FH rubber. Although NHP3TB is very heavy and extremely hard, it is remarkably crisp and responsive, with a clearly felt ball impact. FH drives produce a cracking sound in combination with the 7-ply test blade. The rubber offers an incredibly solid feeling, yet, at the same time, generates a subtle catapult effect that propels the ball with additional speed and depth. The catapult effect is more subtle than the trampoline effect encountered with softer-sponged tensor rubbers and feels as if it originates from the topsheet-sponge interface rather than from the sponge itself. I suspect this is a result of factory boosting. As expected, the topsheet grips the 40+ plastic ball phenomenally well, allowing for effortless looping with long and dangerous medium-low trajectories. Slow opening loops against backspin are slightly less spinny than with my usual DHS Hurricane 3 40-degree blue sponge rubber and are less forgiving of lazy technique, timing, and footwork. Loop drives, played with a fast arm swing speed and waist rotation,  produce flat and deep trajectories with very high spin levels, instilling a feeling that there is no upper limit to the amount of power that can be imparted on the ball, save for the player's physical condition. Lazily executed loops, however, have a higher-than-normal probability of going into the net or long. In other words, NHP3TB requires an attentive style. Due to the rubber’s linearity, it is possible to play very powerful loop-to-loop rallies from afar. However, it is important to time the strokes well to generate the necessary arc for safety. The test setup was fast and I still managed to overshoot the table on some occasions. 

     As expected, passive blocking NHP3TB is rock solid, due to the hard sponge, which efficiently absorbs incoming energy. I found it particularly easy to block “hooking loops” (i.e., loops with considerable side-spin) by cutting against the direction of the spin. However, if cut with the direction of the incoming spin, the block was greatly affected, resulting in a shot that careened off the end of the table. Simply put, NHP3TB is spin-sensitive, which is great if a player can take advantage of that but not so great if a player doesn’t take that into account. I thoroughly enjoyed the unparalleled control on aggressive counter-loops close to the table and was able to convert incoming loops into direct winners on several occasions, which likely is due to the combination of the rock-hard sponge and the tacky topsheet. The biggest surprise, however, was the phenomenal feeling on flat hits and smashes, i.e., shots that normally are a weakness of Hurricane 3 rubbers. The OFF-level speed and hard sponge of the NHP3TB allowed for fast rapid-fire shots from close-to-the table and mid-distance and gave me the confidence to play high-risk shots with full commitment. 

    Unsurprisingly, the short game with NHP3TB is excellent. Pushes can be played very low and short, with high levels of spin. Aggressive service returns are aided by the crisp feeling upon contact and the rubber’s tackiness, which helps lift balls over the net. Once again though, it is necessary to have good timing and an understanding of how the spin-sensitive rubber will react to incoming spin. NHP3TB works phenomenally well on serves, especially short back-side spin serves, which can be absolutely loaded with spin. 

     Playing impressions with boosted NHP3TB sheet: Frankly, I did not feel a major difference between the boosted and unboosted NHP3TB sheets, perhaps because the factory boosting dominated over my conservative boosting. The boosted sheet was minimally softer and more dynamic, which had the expected effects: loops played with low to medium swing speed were marginally faster, whereas loops played with full commitment had a slightly higher probability of going long. However, the differences are minor and honestly, I am not sure I would be able to tell unboosted and boosted NHP3TB sheets apart in a blind test.

     Conclusion: Nittaku and DHS have managed to engineer a rubber that retains the fundamental characteristics of a Hurricane 3 (excellent short game control, power through spin) while providing a subtle boost of speed when swinging quickly through the ball. Make no mistake, the Nittaku Hurricane Pro 3 Turbo Blue is a FH rubber for high-level players who are able and willing to swing through the ball with a fast swing, and excellent timing and technique. Those who do will be rewarded with, what I believe, will become a game-changing rubber. The NHP3TB will appeal to the same type of players who use the coveted DHS Hurricane 3 blue sponge rubbers. The NHP3TB is harder and more solid and offers advantages in the fast, close-to-the-table and counter looping game with minimal concessions on opening loops. The only disadvantage of the NHP3TB is its extreme weight. Setups with two inverted rubbers will approach and even exceed 200 g. If you can live with that, you will be rewarded with an absolutely brilliant rubber. 

Serves: 9.7/10  

Serve receives and short game: 9.5/10

Looping: 9.5/10

Flat hitting: 9.3/10 

Blocking: 9.2/10