EMMA Wilson has defended her title in the Girls’ RS:X after a tense finale at the Youth Sailing World Championships racing in China.

Wilson, from Christchurch, successfully defended her 2016 crown and added a further title to her previous gold and a silver acquired over the past three editions of this multi-class Youth Worlds, while Daisy Collingridge sealed bronze in the Laser Radial event.

The final race had a nailbiting conclusion with Wilson and Italian rival Giorgia Speciale locked in battle around the RS:X race track.

Wilson eventually broke away and crossed the finish line first ahead of the Italian to see them matched on points after five days and 13 races, and confusion then set in as to who had won the overall gold and how the tie would be broken.

The British windsurfer took the victory based on her superior placing in the final race and afterwards Wilson admitted that, as defending champion, she would have been disappointed to have left the Chinese venue with anything less than gold.

Wilson, 18, said: “I’m so happy and relieved!”

“It was so close for the whole week - I was second for the whole week and then finally on that last reach I pulled up. It was amazing.”

“I like all the conditions really, but to have some wind today was pretty nice. Today was offshore, really gusty and shifty. For the whole race me and the Italian girl were neck and neck, she was covering me the whole way round. On the last downwind I went the opposite way and managed to pump round. It was amazing - I still can’t believe I did it!”

Wilson now signs off her youth racing career to focus on senior campaigning in the build up to Tokyo 2020, but reflected on some valuable lessons from her days in the youth ranks.

Wilson said: “Probably my biggest lesson from my youth days is to never give up. This week proved that - you just have to keep going and keep going, keep chipping away, and then finally it came good.

“Hopefully I will keep on improving from here and see some good stuff at the senior level.”

In the Girls’ Laser Radial event Daisy Collingridge started the day in fourth but earned a bronze after overtaking on the final run.

Elsewhere across the fleets there were top ten finishes for the Girls’ 420 duo of Hatty Morsley-Pippa Cropley in fifth, with RS:X windsurfer Andy Brown and the Girls' 29er duo Bella Fellows-Anna Sturrock finishing sixth.

Cornish Nacra 15 duo Benno Marstaller-Chloe Collenette rounded off their regatta in 13th while Boy’s 420 duo Alex Smallwood-Ross Thompson were 14th, Ben Whaley was 19th in the Boy’s Laser Radial and Nick Robins-Billy Vennis-Ozanne were 20th in the Boy’s 29er.

James Gray, the British Youth Sailing Team’s Leader in Sanya said: “I think as returning champion Emma had put quite a lot of pressure on herself to defend that title at her last youth event, and it’s great that she managed to do so.

"The fact that it went down to the wire in the final race and she held her nerve to come through it I’m sure will be a fantastic quality and memory to have as she focuses on her Olympic campaign from now on.

“The team spirit among the group has been fantastic, and World Sailing and the Chinese Sailing Federation have done a great job in hosting us here.”