The Tornado was designed in the autumn of 1967 by Rodney March from England, with help from Terry Pierce, and Reg White, specifically for the purpose of being the new Olympic Catamaran, which was to be selected by the IYRU in an Olympic Catamaran Trials. The boat was developed mainly in Brightlingsea, England.
The one-design Class Rules have allowed the Tornado Class to insure close racing from sailing like-designs, but with the ability to alter the shape of the sails within the approved sailplan to control power. This has allowed teams to be competitive regardless of weight combination or stature, an important feature of the Tornado that has survived the years and the change to the new rig.
The problem often associated with one-manufacturer classes, where in addition to the boats the sails are also strictly controlled, is that a standard weight/height combination dominates. With the ability to alter the sail shape within the Tornado sailplan has resulted in a class where minimum crew weight is not necessary; in the final results in a Tornado event, it is common to have teams whose total weight varies by 40 kg to appear in the top 10.
Over 4,800 Tornados have been built, with 1,200 class association members worldwide. The Olympic status of the Tornado has brought some of the finest sailors from all over the world to the class. With over 22 nations regularly attending the annual World and Continental championships, and with the medals won at the Olympics going to sailors from all the continents where the boat is active, the Tornado has a world-wide level of racing matched only by a very small handfull of other classes.