Paddles Up: Pickleballers use science to take up the fight against court closures

Paddles Up: Pickleballers use science to take up the fight against court closures

A science experiment drew dozens of Saanich Peninsula pickleball players to Oak Bay’s Carnarvon Park Wednesday, with the goal of silencing some critics.

“We just want to show the research and the data with all these courts in play and just how effective sound mitigation can be,” says Saanich Peninsula Pickleball Association president Brad Watson.

Watson will be presenting the findings to North Saanich council in hopes that it will reconsider the recent closure of the pickleball courts on Wain Road due to noise complaints.

Carnarvon’s five courts were booked for the demo, which involved recording sound from different distances. Pickleballers would play for three-minute intervals using regular racquets, then with noise-friendly Owl racquets, which were developed in Victoria by businessman Howard Haugom.

“There are a lot of ways to mitigate the sound, and that includes the Owl paddles,” says Victoria Pickleball Association’s Trish Fougner.

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The reason the experiment was held at Carnarvon Park is due to the sound mitigating panels that have been installed around the courts due to noise complaints from neighbours. The panels, combined with the quieter racquets, produced a much-diminished din.

“From 50 metres away on either side of the courts, we’re seeing about a five per cent decibel drop, which is quite significant,” says mechanical designer Jordan Mikkers, who captured and recorded the sound.

Watson says any consideration from North Saanich Council was the goal, and adds that noise-diminishing panels come at a cost.

“It’s in the $35 to 38,000 range,” he says.

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