At 8 years old, Christopher and Duncan Williford were introduced to sailing during the summer sailing program at Lauderdale Yacht club. Sailing is in their DNA, as their father David was a boat builder and met their mother, Tracey, through mutual friends at a sailing event in Miami. After growing up in south Miami, Tracey spent her college years as a competitive diver, fostering her love for competition and the water.
It is impossible to tell the complete story of one Williford twin without mentioning the other. Starting with a fight to get out of the womb, a defining aspect of their relationship remains their competitive nature. At every corner a contest manifested, be it playing catch with their dad or, the lesser known sport, peeing in the backyard. Be it little league football, basketball, soccer or baseball, they cherished any opportunity to compete with each other.
Entering middle school Christopher and Duncan decided to pursue sailing at a higher level. A significant part of their early training was spent living in Buenos Aires. All while adjusting to a foreign culture, they were afforded the opportunity to train with Lucas Calabrese and a handful of his peers. At 17, Lucas was already competing at a top international level and had already won a junior World Championships.
When the boys returned to the United States, they found their training in Argentina had paid off. They saw a lot of success in the Optimist Class, sailing under coaches Calabrese and Leandro Spina. Spina, the current Olympic Development Program Director, introduced the twins to the 29er skiff. To this day, he remains an instrumental part of their campaign
During their junior year of highschool, the twins were met with unprecedented circumstances, as their educational and athletic trajectories diverged for the first time. Christopher was diagnosed with ALL Leukemia in the Fall of 2016. In need of a higher level of care, Christopher and his mother moved up North for treatment at Boston Children’s Hospital. The twin’s father, David, was forced to split his time between home, traveling for work and visiting Boston. The communities at home rallied to support Duncan and their younger sister Sarah, the Toppa family providing the two with a stand-in family. Christopher grew a support network of his own consisting of sailing families from all over the world. With the community's help, he was able to endure through brutal chemotherapy and radiation. As Duncan finished up his Junior year and prepared for his summer sailing abroad, Christopher received his life saving bone marrow transplant, marking the beginning of his road to recovery.
That summer in Europe, Duncan found success in his 29er campaign along with his crew Matt Mollerus. Duncan headed into his Senior fall with a ninth place finish at Worlds and a first place finish at National Youth Championships under his belt. This fall presented the twins with a new set of hurdles, as Christopher worked to regain his strength and Duncan took his final steps in the college process. While they were working towards entirely different goals, it was incredibly rewarding to be doing so alongside each other.
The following months as Christopher regained his ability to walk, Duncan began his tenure at Dartmouth College. With close to full mobility back mid-fall of his Senior year, Christopher eagerly rejoined his highschool sailing team. As he jumped back into sailing, Christopher was given the opportunity to commit to Dartmouth College, as a sign of head coach Justin Assad’s faith in his abilities, despite setbacks. Without missing a beat Christopher won A division highschool nationals in the spring and continued on to place 3rd in the 29er World Championships that summer.
The fall of 2015 Christopher and Duncan were back in school together, this time sailing for Dartmouth’s sailing team. The three years together, both on and off the water, served as a time for immense growth and they still look back on this time as some of the best in their lives. Throughout their time at Dartmouth, the twins decided to pursue their dream of sailing at the Olympic level together. Upon graduating in 2018, Duncan started a 29er team in the Northeast, assuming the role of head coach while Christiopher completed his senior year.
As the Williford twins begin their campaign, they are excited about the opportunities that lie in front of them, ready to take on any challenges, as a team.