An articulating wave energy conversion system (AWECS) formed of a forward barge hingedly-coupled to a two-part aft barge configuration for reducing the attenuation of available wave energy along the length of the AWECS. The two-part aft barge includes a buoyant section that is either rigidly-connected, or unitized with, a lever-arm barge. The lever-arm barge includes a draft that is much smaller than the drafts of the forward barge and buoyant section. In addition, the lever-arm barge includes a large waterplane area that results in large hydrostatic forces as the waves pass. One or more intermediate barges may be hingedly-coupled between the forward barge and the aft barge. Pumps can be positioned across every hinge to convert the barge articulations into mechanical energy for driving the pumps based on wave motion for a variety of functions, such as water desalination, electrical energy generation, etc.