The paper concerns the development of the PTO (power take-off) control of an OWC (oscillating-water-column) spar-buoy wave energy converter. The OWC spar-buoy is an axisymmetric device consisting of a submerged vertical tail tube open at both ends, rigidly fixed to a floater that moves essentially in heave. The oscillating motion of the internal free surface relative to the floater-tube set, produced by the incident waves, makes the air flow through a novel self-rectifying air turbine: the biradial turbine. To reduce the losses of the PTO system at partial load, an electrical generator with a rated power twice the maximum expected average power conversion of the buoy was adopted. The control of the turbine-generator set under highly energetic sea-state conditions was experimentally investigated by means of tests performed in a PTO test rig. In the reported tests, the hydrodynamics of the OWC spar-buoy and the aerodynamics of the air turbine were numerically simulated in real-time and coupled with the experimental model of the turbine/electrical generator set in a hardware-in-the-loop configuration. The experimental results allowed the dynamic behaviour of the PTO to be characterized and provided validation of the proposed control algorithms that ensure operation within safe limits.