Hurricane Pho Real
General thoughts: Have you ever used a sheet of Hurricane 3 NEO and then immediately wished you hadn’t glued a cinder block to your paddle? I have – and the provincial version makes me rethink my dedication to euro-tensor-looping-machine-rubbers like Tenergy and Bluefire. In contrast to the commercial sheets of Hurricane III NEO that I have used in the past, the provincial version: 1) feels more elastic; 2) is less tacky yet somehow produces slightly more spin; 3) doesn’t feel like such a brick upon impact and instead has a bouncier, more energetic feel to it.
The two sheets that I ordered from PowerPingPong‘s Albert Huang are indeed legitimate, which is worth stating being as there has been so much talk about fakes on the market. Albert has connections with some of the provincial team managers in China and has been in the business of selling popular Chinese equipment for many years now. I spoke with him extensively about his thoughts on the different versions of Hurricane rubbers and after much consideration I purchased 1 sheet in red at 37 degrees hardness and 1 sheet in black at 40 degrees hardness.
I tried out the red sheet first and to my astonishment this was the bounciest sheet of Hurricane 3 I have ever used. It was soft, reactive, and had a similar trampoline effect to Tenergy. Serves felt very spiny due tacky top sheet and soft grabby sponge, looping underspin was a breeze, and loop drives felt great as well. The areas that the 37 degree sheet suffered in were areas of control; the soft sponge and tacky topsheet made it quite susceptible to incoming spin. Blocking also suffered slightly. Altogether though, I was in love with this rubber during testing, but ultimately left it behind because the sheet of black hurricane in 40 degree hardness simply gave me greater potential for power if I chose to penetrate the sponge, as well as more control.
Straight out of the package with factory tuning I felt the Hurricane III Provincial in 40 degree hardness was a little too hard. After all, that was a very typical degree of hardness during the speed glue era. However, after a couple layers of paraffin oil, this rubber really shined. The provincial sheet seems to be way more absorbent than the commercial sheet. I tried putting Dian Chi and paraffin oil on both and the commercial sheet took much longer to absorb the paraffin oil and actually wasn’t able to absorb all of the Dian Chi which caused a huge layer of it to dry up on the sponge. The provincial sheet sucked up the illegal goodness with haste and the results were as nefarious as its table manners. Serves were spiny (although still not the best I’ve ever seen due to the hard sponge), loops were powerful and loaded with heavy spin, and smashes and loop drives were spectacular. I can also say that the 40 degree hardness capitalizes on the weaknesses of the 37 degree hardness by being much more solid on blocks and considerably less sensitive to incoming spin.
All in all I loved the paraffin oil boosted Hurricane III Provincial (the 40 more than the 37). I’m not 100% sure that you can achieve Zhang Jike-like-forehands with a factory tuned, straight-out-of-the-package H3 (although that’s a whole different story being as he uses the nearly unattainable national blue sponge version), but a properly boosted sheet of provincial can get you pretty close to the won’t-shake-your-hand-if-he-loses-world #1. If you like Chinese rubbers, don’t be another commercial buying fool. Step up your game and order the Provincial version and laugh at those silly posers. Be sure to look for the degree of hardness printed on the sponge, as well as the special Chinese character, both of which can be seen in the video below.