Tom Thornycroft’s motor boat, Gyrinus II, won both the Class B and Class C events at the 1908 Olympics against scant opposition – in fact, the only other entry in both events failed to complete the course. Tom Thornycroft was the second son of Sir John Thornycroft, the founder of the engineering and boat building firm which took his name, and Gyrinus II had been designed by Tom and built in the family boatyards. On leaving St. Paul’s School, Tom Thornycroft joined the family firm but resigned from the Board in 1934 following differences of opinion over future company policy. Many of the Thronycroft family were distinguished sculptors and following the tradition of his parents and grand-parents tom himself became a sculptor of considerable note.
Although he was never a professional yacht designer, he had much to do with the development of the Swallow class. His greatest success as a helmsman came in 1931 when he won the Prince of Wales Cup. He was also a keen motor racer and in 1908 he placed fifth in the Tourist Trophy on the Isle of Man. Tom Thornycroft came very close to making a second Olympic appearance in 1952. At the age of 70, and 44 years after winning his two gold medals, he was an official reserve for the yachting team and although he went to Finland for the Games, he was not called on to compete.