Britain yachting team win Youth America's Cup

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Hamilton (Bermuda) (AFP)

Britain fended off the ferocious challenge of New Zealand to snatch victory -- with a little help from Sweden and Germany -- in a wild finish to the Youth America's Cup on Wednesday.

In an event conceived as a path to professional sailing -- which has already proven an efficient pipeline to the America's Cup proper -- the British team affiliated with Ben Ainslie's Land Rover BAR Academy finished the two-day, six-race fleet race final with 50 points to the 48 of New Zealand.

The victory for Britain, skippered by Rob Bunce, owed a lot to their consistency on Tuesday, when they won once and twice finished second.

They came into the final day with 28 points, while New Zealand, skippered by Logan Dunning Beck, languished in fifth place on 18.

But the aggressive Kiwis nearly turned the tables -- winning all three races on Wednesday.

Britain had finished second and fifth in Wednesday's first two races, and New Zealand looked to have done enough when they crossed the line in the final race as Britain -- needing a third-place finish to win -- lagged in fifth behind Germany, Sweden and Switzerland.

Everything changed on the final leg, however, when Sweden and Germany almost collided. Sweden were penalized and Germany crashed into the mark itself.

A penalty for Switzerland then let Britain sail into second place.

"You cannot top things like this," Hans Peter Steinacher, who created the event in 2013 with Roman Hagara, said of the dramatic ending.

"We came round that right hand mark in pretty good pressure," Bunce said. "We saw that we had to get past one of either Sweden or Germany because New Zealand looked to be getting away.

"They were having a really big fight for second place. we knew there was always a chance one of them would get a penalty or it would get pretty scrappy at that bottom gate, and fortunately for us it was."

Switzerland finished third, with Sweden and France rounding out the top five in the final field of eight.

The Youth America's Cup, raced in 45-foot versions of foiling catamarans, debuted in San Francisco in 2013 as an event for sailors aged 18-24.

Nine who took part four years ago have gone on to compete in this year's America's Cup -- most notably Peter Burling, the helmsman who has Emirates Team New Zealand in command against defenders Oracle Team USA going into the second weekend of racing on Bermuda's Great Sound.