The History

The Tornado Olympic Catamaran has a 30 plus year history, beginning with its inception in 1967 and continuing through to the present day as a legendary sailing vessel.


1967 – 1976

Inception and Olympic Debut

  • The Tornado was designed in 1967 by Rodney March, Terry Pierce, and Reg White in England specifically for Olympic catamaran competition.
  • It gained international recognition by winning the Olympic Catamaran Trials held in England.
  • The Tornado made its Olympic debut in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, establishing itself as the premier catamaran for Olympic competition.

1977 – 1992

Dominance and Development

  • Throughout the 1980s, the Tornado solidified its reputation as the ultimate one-design catamaran, remaining largely unchanged in design and rigging.
  • The class saw widespread adoption worldwide, with sailors from over 30 countries competing in Tornado regattas.
  • Despite minor refinements in hull, sail, and spar technology, the basic design of the Tornado remained consistent.

1993 – 2003

Evolution and Challenges

  • In 1993, facing challenges from smaller catamarans and a desire to enhance public and media awareness of yachting, the Tornado class underwent a major development program.
  • The class explored sail configurations and course adjustments to improve spectator experience and media coverage.
  • By the late 1990s, the Tornado faced evaluations from the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) regarding potential replacements for Olympic competition.
  • The ISAF ultimately mandated the inclusion of double trapeze and spinnaker-equipped catamarans for the 2004 and the 2008 Olympics, prompting modifications to the Tornado class to accommodate these changes.
  • The class adapted with new mainsail designs, redesigned jibs, and allowances for spinnaker handling equipment, while retaining its one-design principles.

2004 – Present

Modernization and Legacy

  • The Tornado continued to evolve in the 21st century, incorporating modern racing features while maintaining its status as a premier Olympic-class catamaran.
  • Its rich history, competitive spirit, and adaptability have ensured its enduring legacy in the world of sailing.
  • While no longer an Olympic class since its removal from the program after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Tornado remains a beloved and respected vessel among sailors worldwide.
  • Today, the Tornado class continues to thrive as an international racing class, with enthusiasts and competitors still participating in regattas and events around the globe, preserving the legacy of this iconic catamaran.
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