In my experience Opera is the slowest of the major offerings. It has a got a lot of cool features that you dont see in any of the others though.
Safari certainly isnt any faster than any other browser I have used, apart from Lynx on Unix, which is text only. Once you apply the HTTP Sessions patch to Windows (XP, not sure about other flavours) I can't pick a speed difference between vanilla IE and vanilla Firefox. Once you add a bunch of security addons to Firefox, its markedly slower in computing terms than IE (you wont really spot a difference) but far more secure.
Apple are notorious for releasing poxy ports of their software from native MacOS to Windows, particularly in the user interface department. Whether or not this is due to poor programming, poor design or a deliberate attempt to say 'look, its better on a Mac!', I don't know. Safari is no exception to this.
The greatest delight is to mark one's enemy, prepare everything, avenge oneself thoroughly, and then go to sleep.