A fit young man has told police how his exhausted mate "slipped away" after they spent hours clinging to a surf ski off Brisbane.
Hopes are fading that 26-year-old Jordan Kelly will be found alive after he and his friend Jack McDonald went for a training run off North Stradbroke Island on Saturday.
They'd intended to paddle their surf skis from Dunwich, around the top of the island to Cylinder Beach on the ocean facing side of the island.
It should have been an easy, two-hour round trip for the pair who were training for an upcoming event. But they both wound up clinging to Jordan's surf ski after Jack's began to sink, Acting Senior Sergeant Mitch Gray told reporters on Sunday.
Jack, 28, was able to make it back to the Amity Point Wharf but not until about 8pm. Jordan has not been seen since despite search efforts involving eight aircraft, at least 16 vessels, and teams of rescuers scouring the island's coastline.
"What we've been able to establish from Jack McDonald, who paddled himself in, is that at about 1.30pm, Jack's ski started taking on water," Snr Sgt Gray said.
"Jordan has paddled over to assist him. They've both held onto that ski until such a time, after dark, that they've just become weak and tired from being in the water and unfortunately Jordan slipped away."
Jordan's New Zealand-based family are flying to Queensland, with the search expected to continue for the next two days.
Snr Sgt Gray said conditions in Moreton Bay, between the island and Brisbane, were not too bad on Saturday but were hazardous in exposed locations, with swells of four to six metres and winds of 20 to 30 knots.
"Not suitable for the activity they were planning to do," he said.
By the time Jack reached safety at the Amity Point Wharf, he was suffering from mild hypothermia. He was treated at the scene and has been reunited with his family.
The search will end at sunset and will resume again at first light on Monday.
"As time goes on, certainly we become more and more concerned we're not going to have a happy ending to this scenario," Snr Sgt Gray said.
"We're doing everything we can for the family, to keep them informed, and making sure that we throw absolutely everything at this to try and bring him home."