What are 30 yachts doing anchored in the mouth of the Amazon?

Jeannette Priest will never forget her day on a buffalo ranch on the Amazon Delta.

The 62-year-old yachtswoman rode on the back of a buffalo as it swam across a river, towing a canoe behind it.

It´s not an normal experience for cruising sailors, but the Iles du Soleil yacht rally isn´t a normal event.

Thirty-two yachts have sailed in company from Madeira, via Tenerife, Senegal and Cape Verdes to Brazil. The crews are principally French but there are two British boats as well as Americans, Australians and other nationalities.

The boats are now poised at Soure, at the southern edge of the Amazon Delta. Next week they will start the final leg of their adventure – a 1,000 mile trip up the Amazon river.

First they have time to explore the region where rain forest runs down to the shore and buffalo carts outnumber cars in the sleepy settlement of Soure.

There´s a Wild West feel to the place and the cowboy is king. These cowboys care for the huge herds of buffalo for which the region is best known. They are a tough breed, as the rally crews learnt when some of them visited a local ranch – riding the local horses and taking an unforgetable waterborne buffalo ride.

Read more about this unique rally in a future issue of Yachting Monthly.