Starbucks Dragon Boat Team Defends its Championship

*Update 7/27 Starbucks two teams won gold medals in their divisions

Matthew Mar is convinced he can make a paddler out of anyone. The Starbucks dragon boat racing team’s self-proclaimed “team manager, coach and the guy who screams a lot” takes justifiable pride in his ability to shape an assortment of competitors drawn from the Starbucks community into a winning team.

Standing in the steersman’s position behind a crew of 20 paddlers aligned two-to-a-row about the 40 foot watercraft surging through Seattle’s Lake Washington; Mar puts the squad through its paces. Good-humoredly mixing sternness and sarcasm throughout the instructions, he commands paddlers to keep inside arms over the side of the boat and extend, extend, extend!

A couple of experienced hands from the Sandpoint Outrigger Canoe Club, which provides team equipment, trail the dragon boat, offering encouragement and fine-tuning tips. Sure enough, one hour later, one can detect the squad is operating with something resembling winning efficiency.

“The beauty of this sport is that you don’t need to be a superstar athlete to be competitive and do well in a dragon boat,” Mar explained. “Timing, technique and form are more important than brute strength. It is not unusual to see the women out-paddle the men.”

An ancient sport that traces its origin to China some 2,500 years ago, dragon boat racing has caught on internationally in recent times. In the Northwest, the Seattle Dragon Boat Festival commemorates its 12th year, with some 10,000 spectators anticipated to line the shores of South Lake Union July 25 to cheer on something in the neighborhood of 1,000 competitors.

Among their ranks will be two teams representing Starbucks in the Corporate Division. Starbucks has been part of the local scene since the 1990s and will be shooting for its fourth consecutive gold medal in the Corporate Division and third consecutive gold in the Novice Division.

About Starbucks Hometown

For more than 40 years, Starbucks has had the pleasure of calling Seattle home. Starbucks is proud of its roots and honored to be a part of the community that has been with us from the beginning. Starbucks continues to celebrate the community at its SoDo headquarters, roasting plant in Kent, Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle, and in stores throughout Western Washington. Starbucks is proud to support local initiatives through partnerships with like-minded local organizations including the University of Washington, Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Sounders FC, Seattle Theatre Group, Seafair, and the Seattle International Film Festival. Learn more at

For more information on the Starbucks Dragon Boat team, email [email protected]. Find about more about the Seattle Dragon Boat Festival at

thumbnail for Starbucks Milano Duetto – an innovative ode to coffee, arts and culture

Starbucks Milano Duetto – an innovative ode to coffee, arts and culture