Two surgeons, a doctor and an anaesthetist couldn’t save a 39-year-old German sailboarder who apparently drowned in big surf at Gnaraloo beach north of Carnarvon, West Australian police say.

The man had been camping at the beach with his wife and was last seen alive out on his sailboard about 2pm (WST) on Thursday, they said.

“He was recovered from the water by onlookers and it appears that he’s drowned,” Sergeant Peter Payne of Carnarvon police said on Friday.

“There were lots (of sailboard riders in the area) apparently. It was quite well patronised at the time.

“The area is well known for extreme wave riding.”

Police said the German tourist was last seen about 300 metres off Gnaraloo Beach by his partner, who was watching from the shore using binoculars.

Between 20 and 30 other sailboard riders were in the area at the time.

“The woman lost sight of her partner when a larger than normal set of waves came through,” police said in a statement.

“Another sailboard rider later spotted the victim floating in the water and took him back to the beach on his board.”

Doctors tried to resuscitate him and a vehicle taking him to Carnarvon was met by an ambulance en route, the police statement said.

The man was pronounced dead while being transferred to the ambulance, it said.

His name has not been released.