All of your comments are valid as well. However, modulo the missing Unicode support, Perl 5.005_03 would
have performed similarly to, or better than, Java.
I find it interesting that cl-ppcre was suggested in Dom2's response. I know for a fact that they were also proud of beating Perl by around a factor of 2, but when I checked they did not handle this catastrophic case. I pointed out to the main author that they did not, and that Perl was about twice as fast until it did. There was some back and forth about possible solutions, and I don't know whether anything was ever implemented on their end. (I suspect not.)