In January 1993 the Tornado Class undertook a major development program as part of the Miami Olympic Classes Regatta after a request from the IYRU to improve the public and media awareness of the sport of yachting.
Two weeks of intensive testing and development was carried out involving the three medalists from the Barcelona Olympic Games as well as Tornado designer and 1976 Olympic Gold Medalist Reg White, Edward Hyde and Mike Lennon from Hyde Sails UK and the ITA Technical Committee of that period. The Tornado Class Association spent nearly US$22,000 to ensure that the Ballot for both the rig plan, regatta format and course shape selection was infallible and by all means the best for the class.
The testing involved 10 standard (competitive) Tornados, one team with a larger main and jib and two teams with an assortment of larger mains, jibs and spinnakers up to 32sq m. A total of 14 races were contested over the Regatta and the conclusion was reached that on the Olympic Triangle course or the new short windward/leeward course with gates that the boat with the larger main and jib was marginally quicker than the standard boat, with the spinnaker clad boat only beating the standard and big sail boat in 2 out of the 14 races. The ITA then decided to ballot the larger main and jib to the class for the possibility to change and that rules for a one-design spinnaker be established for special long distance and one-off events. An extensive booklet was prepared by the ITA to explain to the sailors the testing procedure and provide an insight into the reasons for the rig selection.
A two-third majority (as required in the ITA Constitution to implement change) was not reached in the ballot and the Tornado Class sail plan remained as is for the next 8 years. The course and race format received greater than the two-third majority and so the short windward/leeward style course with gates was adopted by the Class.
At the time, the Tornado Class felt that the new style of course will have a far greater impact on the media and public awareness than any change in the boat as the course can be adjusted in length (both time and distance) to compensate the wind strength of any particular day or the number of boats competing.
The shorter than conventional windward legs also allows spectators and media to be able to see the majority of the racing without having to move from the designated areas. The fixed start/finish line allows Race Committees to remain on station all day, rather than having to relocate for each start and finish as required in the past. This allows for a quicker "turn-around" time in between the now common multiple races per day format. Since 1993 all World Championships have been contested using this style of Course and Regatta Format and it was well received by Race Committees and Competitors alike.
While the Ballot process was taking place the Class experienced an incredible decline in the number of boats built and attendance at regattas. The ITA would very strongly refuse any major testing and development in the future in order to help the Class keep its stability and constant growth. This is not to say that the ITA is not willing to progress with the times. In fact, the class has recently made legal the use of mylar sails and is still pursuing the possible introduction of the newly developed carbon mast and increased popularity of the one-design spinnaker. However, the method in which the Association is undergoing the testing is on a much lower scale of publicity and will continue up until November 1996 until a new ballot decision is reached.