There is no doubt that the DHS hurricane II and III rubbers are one of the most popular in the world, partially because it’s so commonly used in China. No doubt the marketing and sponsoring by DHS has a lot to do with this, but the fact the many of the top Chinese players use this rubber does indicate that they have some very good properties.
It is well known that the top Chinese players may not be using the same version as the commercial version that’s available to the public. DHS has special versions of the hurricane rubbers for their Provincial and National team players. Whether these rubbers are actually manufactured differently, or whether they are hand-picked as the best ones from the production of the standard version is unknown. However according to DHS they ARE hand picked from the normal production run.
The standard commercial versions have an orange sponge for both the red and black rubbers. It is well known that there is significant variation in sponge hardness between batch to batch, or possible within each batch. This is due to different cuts of the sponge mass being used to make the individual rubbers. Sponge hardness varies within the sponge mass before the individual sponges are cut off.
DHS also produce a special commercial version with a blue sponge. This one is only made in black, because the red topsheet is too translucent, so a dark sponge would darken the red significantly, most likely beyond what’s allowed under ITTF regulations. This blue sponge is known to be a little softer and more flexible, and also reacts better with speed glue. This version is not as commonly available as it’s not part of their normal production runs.
Among DHS fans there is always talk about the national and provincial version. According to those that have tried the ‘real thing’, the sheets appear of better quality, are more flexible and have a softer sponge. There are special markings on the sponge indicating that these are special version, but the markings don’t always seem the same. They also do not come in the standard packaging, which makes sense as these rubbers are not commercially sold, so fancy packaging is not required. However there are also a lot of fakes sheet around which try to mimic the characteristics and markings on the rubber.
DHS used to sell their topsheets separately. This made it easy for the less reputable companies to add their own cheap sponge and markings, and sell it for a lot more than the commercial version. After this had been going on for several years, DHS recently decided to stop selling the topsheets separately, in order to cut down on the number of fake sheet around. There are however still a lot of fake sheets around.
According to DHS, the provincial and national versions of the hurricane rubbers are not sold to the public at all. They are only GIVEN to the national and provincial teams for their personal use. Of course there is always a big temptation for these players to make a quick buck, and sell these rubbers to other players and retailers, so this is how these rubbers find their way to the public.
According to DHS most of the provincial and national rubbers out there for sale are indeed fakes. In the last year or so more and more of these rubbers are sold by some online retailers and even on Ebay, all of course claiming them to be genuine. According to DHS these rubbers were not supplied to them by DHS, and the number of provincial and national version are quite limited, so chances are that these rubbers are not genuine. As some of these sellers are known to be quite reputable, and sell many other genuine items, it is most likely that they themselves believe the rubbers are genuine. Whether they are genuine or not, we cannot be sure.
There are ways of making the commercial versions a lot more like the provincial/national versions;
One way is to speed glue them… with enough layers to really soften them up. After this has been done a number of times, the sheet become more flexible and the sponge softer permanently… making it play a lot closer to the provincial/national version.
Another way is to use the so-called ‘super priming’ method which is a treatment of many layers of VOC based glue, which certainly has a permanent effect and works very well. It works best on the blue sponge version, but still works very well on the orange sponged version too. This is certainly a much cheaper way of getting a hurricane rubber softer and more flexible, and a lot more like the provincial/national version… and best of all you don’t have to worry about whether is genuine or not!
So is it worth paying the extra money to get a provincial or national version, without being 100% sure that it’s genuine? You be the judge…