The French coastguard on Tuesday searched for Pierre Agnes, the chief executive of U.S. surfwear retailer Boardriders Inc, after his 36-foot (10.97 m) sailboat was found washed up on the country's Atlantic coast.
Rescuers were scouring the Bay of Biscay waters
off Hossegor, a surfing resort from where the 54-year-old Agnes set sail early in the morning, the Landes prefecture said.
Agnes sent a message to port authorities indicating that he was delaying his return because of thick fog. His beached boat was later found empty not far from Hossegor.
"An air and sea search operation is underway," the Landes prefecture said in a statement, adding that two helicopters and two boats were involved in the rescue operation.
Winds were light, the prefecture added, but waves as high as eight feet were hampering visibility.
Boardriders, which is 85 percent controlled by U.S. private equity firm Oaktree Capital, owns the Quiksilver, Roxy and DC Shoes brands.
Boardriders Inc announced on Jan 5 that it had agreed to buy Australia's Billabong International Ltd in a deal that valued the company at A$ 197.7 million ($159.92 million).
($1 = 1.2362 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Claude Cannelas; writing by Michel Rose; editing by Richard Lough/Mark Heinrich)