How Thalassa and Georges Pernoud left their mark on Brittany

How Thalassa and Georges Pernoud left their mark on Brittany

Violet Field inPlanetJan 12, 2021 6 min read0 views

The presenter of the flagship show of the maritime world has died at the age of 73

Former Thalassa presenter Georges Pernoud died in January 2020, at the age of 73. He poses here on Sillon beach, in Saint-Malo, in 2002. - P. Leroux / SIPA
  • Georges Pernoud, the former presenter of the sea magazine Thalassa, has died at the age of 73.
  • In Brittany, where he had been shooting all his live shows for years, he left the imprint of a deeply human man.
  • If some sailors have sometimes criticized him in the past, many admit that he has contributed a lot to the media coverage of their sport.

“These forty-two years spent aboard Thalassa were first of all a great pleasure for me. It is with great emotion and with all my heart that I wish you all: good luck! ". These words are the last of Georges Pernoud at the head of his flagship program. The emblematic presenter of Thalassa, who died this weekend at the age of 73, had spoken them on the beach of Sillon, in Saint-Malo. A place he knew well and was particularly fond of. He came there at least every four years, to watch the start of the Route du Rhum. An offshore race that he has greatly contributed to making popular, to the point of seeing hundreds of thousands of visitors pouring out every four years on the pontoons of the corsair city. “I will never forget what he did for our sport. Georges was someone who didn't take himself seriously. He remained accessible, he knew how to explain in a simple way ”, recalls Matthieu Sarrot, director of the Route du Rhum from 2006 to 2018.

In Brittany, many sailors and fishing professionals know that they have just lost their best ambassador, carried away by a long illness on a cold day in January. At the helm of the show for nearly forty years, Georges Pernoud took a whole generation on trips to the end of the world. But he will also have greatly contributed to promoting Brittany, where he had decided to shoot all his last broadcasts live, at the foot of the Pointe Saint-Mathieu lighthouse (Finistère).

“He's never been a star. It was very simple ”

“Georges was a deeply human person. He had a natural kindness to people. He always asked us to focus on meetings, even if it means taking the time, ”recalls Jean Loiseau. The mayor of the island of Arz (Morbihan) spent thirty years as editor-in-chief of Thalassa. In addition to unforgettable reports from all over the world, he remembers the deep humility of the emblematic presenter of France 3. “He was a former cameraman. He had high standards for the quality of the images. But he was never a star. He was very simple, he attached a lot of importance to people ”.

The humility displayed by the former presenter of Thalassa perhaps stems from his origins. Born in Rabat (Morocco) in 1947, Georges Pernoud has always claimed his love for the mountains, showing his affection for Savoy, who spent his holidays in the Dordogne. “He never claimed to be a sailor. And that's why he spoke so well of the sea. He wanted the general public to understand. He forbade us to use too technical terms, ”continues Jean Loiseau. The somewhat closed world of sailing has sometimes criticized him for this, criticizing him for not talking enough about racing. Pernoud did it but also liked to talk about the men and women who lived by or for the sea. “France has no maritime culture. We have great sailors but we don't have big boats because we burnt everything down. Thalassa spoke of these traditional boats, of the people who sailed on them. It has done a lot of good to the sea, ”says Saint-Malo sailor Bob Escoffier. In 2004, it was he who had skippered the Marité, a cod boat on which the show had made an improbable tour of the ports of France. “As soon as we got somewhere, everyone wanted to see Pernoud,” laughs the navigator.

"He was someone a little lonely, who loved his freedom"

For many, the broadcast of Thalassa will remain as a marker of Friday evenings spent in front of the TV. Some have even drawn their love for the sea from it, dreaming of one day sailing these rarely explored seas. “This show, she was talking to everyone. It offered the sea to all of France. When we weren't at the seaside, Thalassa was our dozen oysters, our dose of iodine when we lacked it, ”summarizes Cancale sailor Gilles Lamiré. “I never missed a show. When I couldn't watch it, I recorded it with my VCR, ”remembers Claude Renoult. In 2017, the former mayor of Saint-Malo presented Pernoud with the city's medal, who had devoted around sixty subjects to it during his career. “He was a bit lonely, who loved his freedom. He did not let himself get carried away where he did not want to go, ”continues the former mayor.

🗣 "It is with great emotion and with all my heart that I wish you all: good luck."

When Georges Pernoud bade farewell to #Thalassa , on June 30, 2017 after having held the helm of the cult show of France 3 for more than 40 years. pic.twitter.com/PIiC00iq87

- franceinfo plus (@franceinfoplus) January 11, 2021

These qualities also marked the former director of the Route du Rhum. “I remember when he decided to equip a motor trimaran with Kersauson (the Ocean Alchemist) to take pictures of the race in the open sea in 1998. He was mocked by the Guignols, but his bet was dared! », Recalls Matthieu Sarrot. Despite the galleys, France will discover for the first time images of racing sailboats in the open sea. More than twenty years later, the skippers on board the Vendée Globe can be contacted by WhatsApp at any time and send their shot images themselves. onboard. "This technical development and this media coverage have revolutionized ocean racing", recognizes Gilles Lamiré. And Georges Pernoud is doubt no stranger to it.