The Classic Tornado Guide

The “ Classic Tornado “

The aim of this information provided below, is to provide a guide to getting started when considering a Tornado.  A comprehensive history, this can be found on the A.I.T.A website under Tornado Info.
Sailing Clubs where sailed:
Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club – Victoria
Somers Yacht Club


Length  -- 6,10m
Beam    --   3,05m
Mast      -- 9,30 m
Weight  -- 160KG
Mainsail  -- 15 square meters
Jib            -- 7 square meters
Single Trapeze


To see these flying multi hulls competing at speed with white spray flying up past the crew is too see the best.

The Classic Tornado provides a very good option for people looking to get into, or return to big cat sailing.  The combination of a 3m beam, 6m overall length and buoyant hull shape make the Tornado a surprisingly forgiving boat to sail in most conditions.

Buying A Tornado

When looking to buy a Tornado when starting off, a good place to start would be on the AITA website or contacting sailing clubs where there is some activity.

Foam Sandwich hulls are the way to go here, as they are stronger and stiffer than wooden hulls.

There have been several different manufacturers of good quality foam boats, Reg White, Boyer, Handley just to name a few.  All of these have proved to be very reliable and remain competitive at a club racing level after more than 20 years service.

Most classic rig Tornado’s have aluminum Sailspar or Mastrom masts.  These have also provided to be very reliable, with very few breakages when used with the Classic rig.  Sports rig boats commonly use Carbon masts due to the extra load from the Spinnaker, however the common view is that these do not offer any advantage over aluminum masts for Classic rig boats (there is a view the more flexible aluminum mast may actually be better).

Simple things to look for when buying a boat are corrosion around the beam bolts, the point where the beams contact the hulls, between the front strap and the beam and around mast fittings.  It is also worth checking the boat is at or close to the minimum class weight (127 kg); in the absence of major repairs, most foam sandwich boats will be, even after many years sailing.

Honeycomb foam sandwich boats are generally a bit stiffer but are more prone to crushing of the core.  At club level both honeycomb and conventional polyurethane foam core boats can be competitive.

For local travel, Tornado’s are commonly trailed on tilt trailers. Provided sensible precautions are taken in strong winds and the overall height of rig is the checked prior to travelling under low bridges, canopies, etc. this is no more difficult than trailing any other boat.

Tips for setting  up  the “ Classic Rig Tornado”

Mast Set up:

This will always depend on the type of mast being used be it tapered or un tapered. The other factor governing this is the fullness of the sail and crew weight.

There are a number of aluminum different sections around still being used, ie Sailspa, Marstrom for example.

Sailspa, actually, produced a few different sections with different tapers and different lengths.

Many are still around on the “classic rigs “.

Diamond Rake: ( how far the arms are set facing rearward on the mast )

Diamond rake is the first step in setting up the mast pre bend.

This is achieved by having the diamond wires removed from the arms, winding or unwinding the adjustment screws at the mast end of the arms itself, to a pre set value. These must set equal on either side of the mast.

An ideal setting depending on how much power you need varies from 25 -45 mm.

Simply stating, the diamonds are eased with the amount of mast bend required to flatten the sail and de power the rig.

Pre bend: ( how much the mast bends forward )

Once the diamond rake has been set, the diamond wires can now be placed back on to the spreader arms themselves and the pre bend can be tensioned by winding up the adjustment at the front of the mast section via a turnbuckle.

Note: Some older style set ups, have a turnbuckle on either side of the mast for individual diamond wires. These must be tensioned equally, so the mast is completely square.

The actual diamond arms should then be checked to make sure that they are both 90 degrees or right angles to the mast section once the adjustments have been made.

Mast Rake:

The actual mast rake sets up the basic balance and feel of the boat itself.

A simple way to set up this initially is to use the ( trapeze wire method ) . This is done by using the trapeze wire and placing it next to the front forestay attachment point (noting the distance ) and measuring how far past the rear beam when placed on the inner hull. It should be around 50 -75 mm.

Mast Sections : Still not finished


Un tapered

Spare Parts:

Local Sail Makers:

Goodall Sails

Ashby Sails

Lindsay Irwin




Apart from keeping the hulls reasonably clean for marks and grime, attention must be given to the main bolts and the threads inside the hulls on the beam landings.

Often these are neglected and fail due to over tightening, or a lack of lubricant….etc when remounting the beams or they are corroded with salt due to the dissimilar metals used in construction.

The bolts must be clean first of all, and the threads in good condition.

If in the beam landings and the threads themselves are suspect, drilling them out and the use of “ Helicoils “ are a better option here as a replacement.

Helicoils are stainless steel and the use of an “ anti seize paste “  can  avoid a lot of problems. Even a high quality grease will suffice here.

Front and Rear Beams:

A lot of early foam boats had small beams front and rear. These consisted of primarily an oval shape with the front beam having a rectangular groove on the leading edge ( centered )  to attach the trampoline and  the mounting bolts through the top.

Quite a few of the rear beams however, had one mounting bolt on the top ( outer edge ) while the inner bolts mounted via a stainless bracket  to the side of the hull underneath the trampoline and included an extruded traveler car track as part of the beam section itself.

Later versions of the beam set ups, were to have a larger sectioned beam.

The front beam consisting, of a rounded front edge with the rear of the beam being squared off, to attach the trampoline.

The later rear beams were reasonably square with rounded edges and extruded traveler car track as part of the beam section itself. These also included a stainless bracket to mount on the inner edge of the hull as an attachment point.

Perhaps one of the most critical point on the front beam to check is the bolts holding on the strap itself.

Over time, these stretch and the strap may lose some of its tension, particularly if it is an alloy strap. If this happens, a small plate maybe placed between the strap and the tie ( centre post ) to tension the strap up again.
The maximum amount of pre bend allowable is 15mm.

Stainless straps do not stretch as much as the alloy ones.

The easiest way to take the tension off the strap is to obviously remove the front beam and place the beam on a flat bench upside down, with a block of wood underneath either end of the beam.

Then carefully using sliding clamps in the centre of the beam, wind the clamps up slightly to increase the beam deflection. This should then remove the tension on the strap itself, enabling removable of the mounting bolts.

A diagram can be found under the “ Class Restrictions” section.

Sail Battens:

When tying in the sail battens in to the mainsail, be careful not to over tighten the batten as this will distort the batten itself.

Also after sailing, a good idea is to remove the batten completely from the sail and not roll them up in it, as over time this can lead to the batten forming a twist

Below is a basic guide to sail batten weights and tension. ( these I got from Scott Anderson many moons ago )


Weights  in KG                       Sail Batten Drive

1.     5.5 – 8.8                           48% - 50 %

2.     3.5 – 1.2                           48% - 50 %

3      3                                        42 % - 43 %

4      2                                        42 % - 43 %

5      1.5                                     42 % - 43 %

6      1                                        42 % - 43 %

7      1                                        42 % - 43 %

8      1                                        42 % - 43 %

9      1                                        42 % - 43 %

10    1                                        42 % - 43 %


Fittings. Still not finished

Rudders Still not finished

Centreboards Still not finished