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Review Donic Cayman:

1. Review by haggisv;
Donic's writeup: "All-round with good feel. DONIC developed with the CAYMAN, an extremely light and relatively fast all round blade with high rigidity and excellent control. This blade is especially suitable for players using pimples. The hard outer plies are particularly effective when using long or short pimples. Blocking and counter attacking become more deadly and more troublesome, especially for long pimpled players. Amazing control, with no lessening of speed, permits the player using this DONIC blade to attack and defend and enjoy his game. This does not only apply to players using pimples."
First Impression:
This blade really is light. The one I picked was only 60g, the others felt similar. Blade thickness is about 7mm, dimension look pretty standard, very close to me Stiga energy so it made it easy to fit my old rubber on. The handle is quite comfortable, but does not flare out as much as the Stiga, but this should not be a problem.

The blade has a thick inner soft balsa layers, which somewhat firmer layers after that, and some thin and hard outer layers. The blade has a very soft but fairly stiff feel. It feels quite slow when you bounch the ball on there softly, but when you bounch a little harder it feel a lot springier and has decent power. It would roughly be around OFF-

The main reason for trying this bat is for the long pimples.... I'm hoping it will block a lot better with better spin reversal, being a stiff balsa blade, but still chop very well due to the soft and slow feel.

I've just glued my usual TSP P-1R 0.6mm LP rubber onto it... Bounching the ball on it, it felt softer and deader than on the Energy, which sounds really promising...

First Hit:
I had a brief hit with it, although it needs more time.

For close to the table play this blade is better in every way compared to my Energy wood! My soft block were shorter, I double bounched blocked several spinny loops which I could hardly ever do before.

My aggressive blocks were faster and with more spin reversal and better consistancy.

For touch shots the soft feel of the blade is excellent...

Attacking and hitting it felt quite solid, and again the spin reversal was better. It felt more solid and faster, which improved my consistancy.

I need more time to test how well this blade chops, since the person I was playing did not give me that many opportunities... From the few chops against loops I did do, I found the blade faster and more springy.  This blade will certainly improve my close-in game, which I'm keep to improve, so if it still works well for the chopping game, I'm sold...

Second Hit:
I've had another hit with blade, this time more to evaluate the suitability for my FH. I put my trusty old 999 Nat glue up on there, since I know this rubber well.

For looping this blade is definitely a notch faster then my Energy wood. There was not as much dwell time and the balsa seem to kick the ball off a little quicker, so it wasn't as spinny for powerloops. For my slower brush loops it was just as spinny, and coz the weight was so much less, I found I could put more wrist into it, or change the direction at the last moment...My opponent found it noticiably harder to pick where I was going... which puzzled me a bit...

For hitting it feels really nice and solid, it was so MUCH easier to hit through spin. Blocking was also better, again the more solid feel made it easier.

Touch shots felt better too, in fact it felt slower and less bounchy for this...

Chopping (with the long pimples) against loops was not as consistant as with my Energy wood. It felt noticible faster, so I have to learn to adjust to this. I could however counter-hit some loops even from mid-distance, which I could not do effectively with the Energy wood. The kick of the inner Balsa seemed to give it the extra power needed.

The (slightly) reduced dwell time for my loops was my main negative for my particular style, as it reduced my spin and consistancy a little...
I will certainly persist with the blade for now, since if I can get used to looping issue with this blade, it feel better than my energy wood in every way.

This blade REALLY is great for pimple players, particularly the more aggressive ones. The control and feel when blocking and attacking with long pimples was impressive, and I assume short pimples players will find it good for this as well. The blade felt fairly fast to me at first, since I'm used to the Stiga Energy wood, which to me feels barely OFF-, which would put the Cayman near the top of OFF- or bottom of OFF. For pure loopers I don't think this is suitable, a more flexible blade would be better.

After a few more sessions:
Just an update on this blade, I'm really starting to like this! I feel I've adjusted well in chopping with this blade... I feel like I've got as much control as I did before (both with inverted AND with the long pimples), but any sort of attack or block are much more effective.

For my FH, a little softer rubber really helps, but after my Globe 999 Nat has been primed and glued a few times, it feels soft enough to still give very good spin. The extra pace that the cayman offer really help when I need to put the ball away... It really has not taken me that long to get used to this bat, and it outperforms my Stiga Energy blade in virtually every way... I'm relly happy!!!

The much lighter weight of the blade makes up for the heavier Globe 999 nationla rubber. So it's definitely a keeper for me!
2. Review by ChrisBuer;
Yes, I tested the Cayman out over the weekend and can now post some thoughts on it vs the Dr N. Special.

First of all, the Cayman feels a lot better in my hands. It's a more conventional size and I think it feels lighter than the Special. Because of this, I find it easier to twiddle and serve with because it can be manoeuvred more easily! Put it this way, with the Cayman I felt I could just pick it up and play whereas the Special would take a little bit more time to adjust to.

The Special is a touch quicker I think. There isn't a huge amount in it to be fair but it is that little bit quicker. When going for my loop shots, I managed to get more on the table with the Cayman than I could with the Special. Plus for some reason, I found that I generated more spin from the Cayman. Maybe this however was down to the blade size and feel in my hand as I felt more confident hitting the ball! The Special in comparison feels quite "springy" and the ball will ping off it more quickly.

Although I've only played with the Cayman once (and this was on carpet and a slowish table, so not great), it has a better touch to it, but I think the Special has more control. I did find that I had to work a little bit harder with the Cayman (but we're talking very small amounts here) and the Special made me play in quite a lazy fashion when blocking balls back and placing them. However I would say that apart from it's speed, the Special feels slightly better with it's control.

Which one would I choose? Hmmm....tough one that! I think given time and training with the Special it would be an excellent blade. The control is fantastic and you can really "zing" balls left, right and centre! However I must say that I didn't feel that I could generate the same levels of spin with the Special than I could with the Cayman.

I think the defining factor however is that where the Special is a great blade, I just feel that it lacks something. Blocking the ball and controlling spin, you cannot fault it, it's superb! Attacking? Well it does fire the ball off quickly but in terms of being able to loop with it, it just doesn't seem to want to generate the levels of spin that I'm used it! Oh and I'm using the same rubbers on all of my blades!

The Cayman is great and for the price, I would choose it over the Special! It's a better size, fits better in my hand, can generate good spin reversal, plus I can generate good spin with it.

But....I'm probably going to carry on playing with my Andro blade and will work with the Cayman in training! Why? Well because on my Andro blade, the ball is killed more on the pimples and is a lot slower. On the forehand, I can generate excellent spin and I feel that I have better control at the moment.

I can however see the weakness in my Andro blade and it's like this. The Andro is excellent for blocking the ball and reducing the pace, plus it does generate great spin. However, because it's so dead on the pimples side, all you can really do is block! When you get into a pushing game, it's quite hard to place the ball as well and when I twiddle, it's difficult to dig with the inverted side!

With the Cayman, although it's a faster blade, I can do more with the pimples. I can block, push and drop the ball where I want and above all, I can attack with it. Digging with the inverted side also is a lot easier for some reason!

After some training, I think the Cayman will take my game onto the next level!