The paper concerns the phase control by latching of a floating oscillating-water-column (OWC) wave energy converter of spar-buoy type in irregular random waves. The device is equipped with a two-position fast-acting valve in series with the turbine. The instantaneous rotational speed of the turbine is controlled through the power electronics according to a power law relating the electromagnetic torque on the generator rotor to the rotational speed, an algorithm whose adequacy had been numerically tested in earlier papers. Two alternative strategies (1 and 2) for the latching/unlatching timings are investigated. Strategy 1 is based on the knowledge of the zero-crossings of the excitation force on the floater-tube set. This is difficult to implement in practice, since the excitation force can neither be measured directly nor predicted. Strategy 2 uses as input easily measurable physical variables: air pressure in the chamber and turbine rotational speed. Both strategies are investigated by numerical simulation based on a time-domain analysis of a spar-buoy OWC equipped with a self-rectifying radial-flow air turbine of biradial type. Air compressibility in the chamber plays an important role and was modelled as isentropic in a fully non-linear way. Numerical results show that significant gains up to about 28% are achievable through strategy 1, as compared with no phase control. Strategy 2, while being much easier to implement in practice, was found to yield more modest gains (up to about 15%).