A model-free algorithm is developed for the reactive control of a wave energy converter. Artificial neural networks are used to map the significant wave height, wave energy period, and the power take-off damping and stiffness coefficients to the mean absorbed power and maximum displacement. These values are computed during a time horizon spanning multiple wave cycles, with data being collected throughout the lifetime of the device so as to train the networks off-line every 20 time horizons. Initially, random values are selected for the controller coefficients to achieve sufficient exploration. Afterwards, a Multistart optimization is employed, which uses the neural networks within the cost function. The aim of the optimization is to maximise energy absorption, whilst limiting the displacement to prevent failures. Numerical simulations of a heaving point absorber are used to analyse the behaviour of the algorithm in regular and irregular waves. Once training has occurred, the algorithm presents a similar power absorption to state-of-the-art reactive control. Furthermore, not only does dispensing with the model of the point absorber dynamics remove its associated inaccuracies, but it also enables the controller to adapt to variations in the machine response caused by ageing.