To fulfill the ever growing demands of world energy consumption, the wave energy should be extracted economically. The oscillating water column is most commonly used to xtract energy from waves. It consists of a chamber in which waves drives the entrapped air column to rotate the Wells turbine. The Wells turbine is a self-rectifying low-pressure axial reaction turbine with 90ο stagger angle. These turbines consist of symmetrical airfoil profile to achieve unidirectional rotation for the bi-directional airflow. The turbine performance predominantly depends on the aerodynamic characteristics of the airfoil profile used. In this study, the performance of Wells turbine with various symmetrical airfoil profiles was analysed using ANSYS CFX 14.5. The CFD analysis was performed by solving three dimensional steady Reynolds averaged Navier-Stokes equation with k-ω SST turbulence closure model. The reference geometry has NACA0015 as blade profile and the CFD results were compared with the experimental values. The performance characteristics of the new airfoil profiles were compared with the reference case to analyse the suitability of airfoils in wave energy extraction. The NACA0021 airfoil profile showed better performance in the post-stall regime compared to the NACA0015 and the S1046 airfoil profiles. © 2018 The Authors, published by EDP Sciences.