Having already proved she is a survivor, Tess Lloyd has again demonstrated why she is also one of Australia's emerging sailing prospects heading into the next Olympics.

The 18-year-old Victorian finished fourth in the 49er FX class of this week's sailing World Cup, which came to a climax in Melbourne on Sunday, but it was an achievement that did not need a medal to crystallise its significance.

Just being in contention was more than enough considering it was only 18 months ago that Lloyd, from Melbourne, was placed in an induced coma and facing the possibility of permanent brain damage after a serious accident where she was hit by a windsurfer during a race in Brisbane.

Only 16 at the time, there were real doubts as to whether she would survive brain surgery. Now, based on this week's World Cup performance, the 2016 Olympics in Rio and perhaps even a medal appear to be a real possibility.

Lloyd and her crew partner Caitlin Elks were leading the event going into the final day of racing on Sunday, and were only denied a World Cup crown when their boat capsized in tough conditions on Port Phillip Bay - a mistake that handed the fellow Australian crew of Olivia Price and Eliza Solly the victory.

Despite a deflating end, Lloyd has been through far greater setbacks to notch this, her most significant achievement since the accident in her first senior regatta.

''It has been hard to come back, starting with getting my speech back … learning people's names again … all those things,'' she said. ''A lot of doctors didn't want me to get back on the water, they were worried about me hitting my head again.

''But sailing is something I wanted in my life. Sometimes when I'm on the water I think about that day [of the accident].

''But I'm so glad that I didn't listen to the doctors.''

Lloyd, who now wears a helmet when she competes, spent three weeks in an induced coma with swelling around her brain and fluid on her lungs after being knocked unconscious when the windsurfer hit her boat, planed over the vessel and hit Lloyd in the head, knocking her into the water.

Lloyd's uplifting story fitted nicely into a triumphant World Cup for the host nation.

Australia topped the medal tally with 22, eight ahead of China, and had an equal-best five gold medals alongside the Chinese team, which also had five.

Aside from Price and Solly, Australian crews Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (49er class) and Darren Bundock and Nina Curtis (Nacra 17 class) also claimed gold medals on Sunday.

It followed Saturday's gold medal performance from Australian crew Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan in the 470 class - which continued the pair's 12-month undefeated streak - and that of world No.1 Tom Burton, who won gold in the Laser class.