A sea search for a missing surfwear brand boss has been suspended, with no sign of him.
Pierre Agnes, chief executive of Boardriders, which owns brands including Quiksilver, Roxy and DC Shoes, set sail from the French surfing resort of Hossegor at around 7.30am on Tuesday.
He had planned a solo fishing trip.
Later, the 54-year-old sent a message to port authorities saying he was delaying his return due to thick fog in the area, according to officials in Landes Prefecture.
Almost three hours after he had set off, his 36ft sailboat – the Mascaret III – was found empty and washed up on the French Atlantic coast.
Helicopters, boats and a jet ski have been searching the Bay of Biscay but on Wednesday afternoon, authorities announced that the sea part of the search was being suspended.
The Maritime Prefect said in a statement: “At 2.35pm, after consultation with the director of the CROSS (Regional Operational Monitoring and Rescue Centre) of Etel, the maritime prefect of the Atlantic decides to suspend research at sea by directed means.”
Search conditions had improved on Wednesday, compared to the waves up to 8ft high and poor visibility that were seen on Tuesday.
Sud Ouest reported the search was now focused on the shoreline with the possibility that Mr Agnes’s body or other clues could be washed ashore.
“Given the weather, in water ranging between 11 and 13C, and while it has now been more than 24 hours since the alert was given, the hope of finding the CEO of Boardriders Inc alive is almost zero,” the newspaper wrote.
“Under such conditions, the theoretical survival time is estimated at 20 hours.”
Father-of-three Mr Agnes joined Quiksilver in 1998, when the Australian brand began to expand internationally.
He had previously been an international surfer.
Among those hoping the Frenchman will be found safe and well is former surfing champion Kelly Slater, who wrote on Instagram: “I pray for a miracle but it’s just starting to hit me what a profound effect this man had on my life and the surf community at large.
“He loved his morning fishing trips, family, Quiksilver, surfing, friends, motorbikes, Capbreton… I’m not even sure how to let it sink in.”
The World Surf League wrote on Twitter that news of Mr Agnes’s disappearance was “deeply troubling”.
They added: “Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family all at this time, as well as the search and rescue teams.”