Oscillating wave surge converters are a promising technology to harvest ocean wave energy in the near shore region. Although research has been going on for many years, the characteristics of the wave action on the structure and especially the phase relation between the driving force and wave quantities like velocity or surface elevation have not been investigated in detail. The main reason for this is the lack of suitable methods. Experimental investigations using tank tests do not give direct access to overall hydrodynamic loads, only damping torque of a power take off system can be measured directly. Non-linear computational fluid dynamics methods have only recently been applied in the research of this type of devices. This paper presents a new metric named wave torque, which is the total hydrodynamic torque minus the still water pitch stiffness at any given angle of rotation. Changes in characteristics of that metric over a wave cycle and for different power take off settings are investigated using computational fluid dynamics methods. Firstly, it is shown that linearised methods cannot predict optimum damping in typical operating states of OWSCs. We then present phase relationships between main kinetic parameters for different damping levels. Although the flap seems to operate close to resonance, as predicted by linear theory, no obvious condition defining optimum damping is found.