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DON IGUANA'S CLIPPA / RESILON / RITC 802 SHORT PIPS SHOOTOUT

March 12th, 1999

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS

Yes, Virginia, there is an alternative to speed glued inverted offense! International celebrity and table tennis competitor Don Iguana played some of his most important matches with short pips on his side of the table (not that he bothered in most cases to pick them up).  

As Don explained (between cell phone calls from his agent and the pesky lady from the Smithsonian "Reptiles in American Life" exhibit), short pips are offensive in concept and are among the fastest sheets available, especially when comparing unglued surfaces. They are high speed, low friction. 

The four rubber sheets tested fell into two groups, based on their geometry. Butterfly Resilon Kawa and Stiga Clippa have similar top sheet dimensions and layout, with pips roughly 1:2 in height, covering about 65% of the surface area, arranged in "north/south" gutters that run from handle to head. Friendship RITC 802 over medium Japanese sponge and Friendship RITC 802 over hard Chinese sponge (both assembled by Diego Shaaf), feature a wider pip 1:3 in height, more densely arranged over 75% of the surface with "east/west" gutters running from side to side.

Mounted on 85 gram Kreanga blades, sheets were dry tacked with ASTI EX the night before the test. All were light compared to inverted sheets with 802 Medium at 37 grams, 802 Hard at 38, Clippa and Kawa at 40 grams (trimmed and dry).

It is the clear policy of Don's testing program to compare and not recommend rubber, but the sheet of Stiga Clippa forwarded for this test by Table Tennis Pioneers stands out as a very interesting product. It carried an unmistakable Mark V "rich red" top sheet, is attached to lively 2.0 sponge and was simply a dynamic playing surface. Strong stuff, but here's the Don Iguana Lab's scoop from Saturday's Short Pips Shootout.

SPIN

1. Clippa

2. 802 Medium

3. 802 Hard

4. Resilon Kawa

Compared to the other three sheets in the test, Stiga Clippa has grip. As measured subjectively by serving, pushing and mid distance spinning, Clippa's thin Mark V colored red top sheet and lively sponge actually push its performance envelope toward medium pips or even a low grip inverted like Selvid...but retains at-the-table speed of short pips. Quite unique, actually.

Friendship 802 Medium is also an all-round pips performer and is respectable both at and away from the table. Don felt, however, that some of the 802 Medium's spin is hampered because it lacks middle gears. The wide 1:3 pips and the softest sponge in the test make the 802 Medium directionally accurate but lacking in punch until you actually swing hard enough to feel wood, at which time it has strong spin and surprising speed.

802 Hard and Resilon Kawa begin resembling boards at more than 5 feet from the table and perform like a cushioned hard bat at best (an oxymoron tendered with full apologies to Mr. Gordon). The farther a ball travels from these sheets the less likely is to follow your flight plan...lack of rotation does that!

SPEED

1. Resilon Kawa

2. Clippa

3. 802 Hard

4. 802 Medium

In Don's low slung, ganglia driven, blocking and killing game, the two sheets with open geometry were the fastest in observed "terminal velocity". Clippa was the most versatile among the tested sheets when it comes to the speed of your own shot, and allowed testers choices between blocks, counters and aggressive added spin shots within rallies.

Resilon Kawa is the acknowledged king in this group for pick hitting off the push. Reportedly first offered in the US at the urging of US Women's Team members several years ago, Kawa's "rind of the loaf", wrinkled sponge is an ideal launcher for flat hitting and creates powerful, penetrating and predictable blocks. It is the clear winner in the "loudest in test" category. 

The Kawa and the two 802 variants all have two very specific gears. Among those three, the "gears" are spaced differently. Kawa offered "fast and real fast". 802 Medium Sponge provided "slow and fast" and 802 Hard, "numb and fast". One the reasons that Clippa comes off with such a unique feel (compared to others in the test) is that these distinct gears are blended into much more of an inverted feel when using this Japanese made, Swedish distributed product.

CONTROL

1. 802 Medium

2. Clippa

3. Resilon Kawa

4. 802 Hard

The first three finishers in this category fall in line based on successively stiffer sponges. When asked to steer a ball to its directed landing spot, short pips sheets should excel. Many player choose these sheets to improve control, especially shakehands combination players...and the top three here all offer control that exceeds offensive inverted coverings.

802 Hard is a more difficult rubber to assess. The dense yellow Chinese sponge mounted under wide, tightly arranged pips just felt vague compared to its test-mates, it did not sing at high impact like the other three nor did it create confident feedback and directional control at low speeds. It seems to somehow diffuse energy without directing it.

SUMMARY

The expectation in most Don Iguana Lab rubber tests is to uncover anddescribe a continuum of performance characteristics, even among rubbers that may fall into different categories. This test is a surprise in that regard.

The 802 family is recognized as an all-round choice by many pips fans and practitioners, giving players range from the table in addition to at-the-table speed. Resilon Kawa is a more special purpose attacking surface, stiffer than Resilon, and Resilon Flex. For true hitters, especially short hop penholders, Kawa deserves some time on your blade. But as it turns out, 802 and Kawa felt much more akin to each other than they did with Stiga Clippa.

By comparison, Clippa plays like a hybrid between short pips and inverted. It has the most spin and most range from the table among the four tested rubbers and, by far, the most available gears.

Why, we can only surmise. But Clippa has the thickest sponge (2.0 while others top out at 1.9) and a distinctly different feel and appearance. Perhaps the .1 mm gained in the sponge is the result of a thinner top sheet, which could allow for more pip deformation and energy transfer. This red Clippa feels noticeably more grippy, flexible and springy to the touch (the factory blurb says the sponge is hard, but it is very easy to squeeze). Whatever the reason, this sheet of rubber is fun, any shot that you can land on the table with inverted will also land with Clippa...just a little flatter and little faster.

It would be interesting to see how Clippa plays head to head against Butterfly Challenger and the TSP and Nittaku short pips contenders!

Courtesy of About.com - TT

 

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