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.
Nearly three hours later, his 36ft sailboat - the Mascaret III - was found empty and washed up on the French Atlantic coast.
The coastguard was alerted after Agnes' 11-metre vessel was found on the coastline on Tuesday.
The region is known for having occasional risky waves.
Before the boat was found, the 54-year-old sent a message to port authorities saying his return was delayed due to the fog, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
"I'm praying 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 wrote. The French Maritime Gendarmerie began the searches with two patrol boats backed up by three helicopters.
Quiksilver, which was founded in Australia, makes clothing for surfers and surfing aficionados.
The Quiksilver Europe headquarters are located in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, around 30 miles south of Hossegor. Later in the morning his boat was recovered on the beach near his hometown and Pierre has not been heard from since.