In 1857 we find many references to a Captain Austen and the cutter Tay. It sailed regularly between Auckland Coromandel and Thames. They also made journeys to Wellington and Northland. The ship's cargo seemed to include timber, maize, sugar, rope, "sundries" and passengers.
From the Hawke's Bay Herald on the 26th December 1857 comes this report:
Sailing Match At WELLINGTON--(.From a Correspondent.) A match took place this day (Wednesday, Dec. 16), between the fine little clipper cutter Tay, of Auckland — owned and sailed by Capt. Austen ; and Mr. Worsley's smart fore-and-aft schooner the "Matilda Hays." The race was from Swinbourne's wharf to outside the Heads ; the competing vessels to round the outer rock of Barrett's reef and return to their anchorage. The race was watched by a great number of people, both on shore and on board the other vessels ; and perhaps there has never been a sailing match in Port Nicholson that excited so much and such general interest. At starting — the Cheetah being flag- ship for the occasion — the wind, unfortunately, was very unsteady, and some difficulty was experienced by both crafts in getting clear of the shipping. The schooner made the best start — the cutter fouling the Glance and carrying away her own topmast stay. From the time thus lost, the schooner, to all appearance, would win, and that easily. She rounded Point Halswell 9 minutes before the Tay, and of course the general impression was that the Tay and her skipper had made a mistake, and that Wellington would carry off the prize. It was soon found out however, that the mistake was the other way About 7 o'clock in the evening a sail was observed coming round Point Halswell, and, to the astonishment of the knowing ones, it proved to be the Tay. The cutter, it appeared, notwithstanding her bad start, had rounded the outer rock two minutes before the Matilda Hays, and was a quarter of a mile ahead on opening out the town. She anchored just one hour before her less fortunate competitor. The latter had got becalmed towards evening, which Capt. Austen avoided by keeping well free of the shore. We congratulate the latter on the result.