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#Tokyo2020 - Mercedes-Benz has extended its involvement in sailing with its support of Howth Yacht Club’s Aoife Hopkins as she prepares her challenge to qualify for Ireland’s team at the forthcoming 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The arrangement sees Mercedes-Benz retain its status as the only vehicle manufacturer supporting Ireland’s bid for further Olympic glory in the Laser Radial class, in which Annalise Murphy won the silver medal at Rio 2016.

From Howth, 19-year-old Aoife Hopkins is currently Women’s Laser Radial Irish champion and U21 European champion, following her gold medal win at the 2017 Europeans in France — which earned her Afloat.ie’s Sailor of the Month honour for July 2017.

Daughter of Niamh and Troy Hopkins, Aoife hails from a family of sailors and herself started sailing when she was only nine years old.

Her father and brother Daniel currently sail Lasers, while her other brother Conor formerly took part in the sport, all at Howth.

A former student of Santa Sabina school in Sutton, where she achieved more than 600 points in the Leaving Cert, Aoife is now a first year maths student under a sports scholarship at Trinity College Dublin.

“I am delighted to have the support of Mercedes-Benz whose involvement in sailing ensures that my preparations for Tokyo are off to a flying start,” she said at the announcement this week.

Aoife has taken delivery of a 181-registered Vito Mixto, which she will use to transport her team, herself and her equipment to events both here in Ireland and overseas.

Fitted with features fit for a sailing star, specifications include a leatherette interior, leather multi-function steering wheel, interior chrome package, air conditioning, audio 15 sound system, a reverse camera and more.

It will have an eye-catching presence at sailing events throughout Ireland and beyond thanks to its subtle yet eye-catching silver and grey livery.

Wishing her every success in her preparations for Tokyo, Fergus Conheady, sales manager for Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles, told Aoife: “We are proud to support another of Ireland’s amazing young sailors and wish them every success as they challenge to be the sole competitor in the Laser Radial class to qualify to represent Ireland.”

Published in Tokyo 2020

William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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