In this paper, a maximum energy extraction and tracking strategy for direct-drive wave energy converters (DDWECs) based on back-stepping and sliding mode control strategies are developed. It is well known that the existence of the chattering phenomenon degrades the control performance of conventional sliding mode control (SMC). To mitigate the effects of flutter and external disturbances, a back-stepping sliding model control (BSMC) scheme is proposed. The main features of the proposed methodology are as follows: (1) By using the proposed BSMC, the maximum wave energy of DDWEC can be captured. Moreover, the speed tracking of the permanent magnet linear generator (PMLG), which is a subsystem of DDWEC, tracked in real-time. (2) By virtue of the proposed BSMC, the closed-loop control system is asymptotically stable in finite time. (3) With the superior controllability of the BSMC, it can handle disturbances that the SMC cannot handle. Comprehensive and comparative studies are proved to be superior to the most advanced method.